Rebuilding the Cards Bullpen: Minors Lefties

Part two of a look at how the St. Louis Cardinals could revamp the left side of its bullpen for 2009.

On Thursday, 561 minor league players were declared free agents by Major League Baseball.  Of those 561 players, the St. Louis Cardinals might be most interested in the southpaws as the team continues to rebuild its left-handed relief corps. 


In part two of a series looking at how the Cardinals could revamp its ‘pen, a look at these newly recognized free agents is in order.  (Link to part one: "Rebuilding the Cardinals Bullpen: Southpaws".)



Ricky Barrett


Lifelong Minnesota Twins' farmhand made 50 appearances in Triple-A posting a 3.21 ERA.  In 70 innings, Barrett struck out 81 batters and held opponents to a .218 average.  The 27-year-old has spent the last three plus seasons at Triple-A Rochester where he has 139 appearances during that time.  During his time with the Red Wings, the Californian has averaged more than a strikeout an inning. 


Mariano Gomez


Effectively pitched out of the bullpen for the Twins' Triple-A affiliate.  Originally signed out of Honduras by the Cleveland Indians, Gomez posted a 2.76 ERA in 56.1 innings for Rochester in 2008.  Previously, he had spent seven seasons in the Indians farm system.  If Gomez makes the Majors, he would become only the second Honduran to become a big leaguer. 


Daniel Haigwood


Played only at Double-A in 2008 but he did strike out 70 in 67 innings while giving up only 55 hits.  The Chicago White Sox to traded Haigwood, Gio Gonzalez, and Aaron Rowand the Philadelphia Phillies for Jim Thome in November of 2005.  Has since been traded two more times with the Boston Red Sox being his latest organization. 


Ian Ostlund


The Virginian is an interesting 30-year-old that could provide nice depth at Memphis.  Last year for the Toledo Mud Hens, he made 44 appearances and posted an ERA of 2.45.  In 69.2 innings, Ostlund struck out 77 while walking 17. Ostlund missed most of the 2004 season due to Tommy John surgery.  


Zack Parker


Former Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers farmhand, Parker is a sinkerballer who has posted a 2.26-to-1 groundball-to-fly ball ratio in 31 Mexican League innings.  A capable swingman who made 27 appearances for Frisco including nine starts, Parker posted a 1.7-to-1 groundball to fly ball ratio in the Texas League in 2008. 


Juan Perez


The live-arm Dominican put together another successful year at Triple-A Indianapolis.  In 22.2 innings, opponents hit only .207 against him while striking out 35 batters.  Missed considerable time in 2008 due to an elbow issue.  Now playing in the Dominican Winter League, the 30-year-old has been tagged for a 12.71 ERA in nine games. 


Heath Phillips


The 26-year-old split time between the Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays Triple-A affiliates in 2008.  For Durham, Phillips posted a 2.86 ERA in 22 innings.  Now pitching in the Mexican League, lefties are hitting only .069 against him in 31 innings of work.  Phillips possesses a high-eighties sinker to go along with a 12-to-6 curveball. 


Carmen Pignatiello


The Illinois native has made six appearances for the Chicago Cubs over the past two seasons.  At Triple-A Iowa in 2008, lefties hit only .182 in his 45 appearances.  Pignatiello has appeared in 285 games in nine seasons as a Cubs' farmhand. 


Steven Randolph


The journeyman reliever struck out 96 in 62 innings with two organizations in 2008.  The former Texas Longhorn kept the ball in the park, with only three home runs allowed, and hitters managed only a .172 average against him.  Named in the Mitchell Report, Randolph posted an 8-1 record in 50 relief appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2003. 


John Rheinecker


The St. Louis area native was a supplemental first round pick of the Oakland Athletics in 2001.  The Missouri State product missed all but two minor league appearances in 2008 after being diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a shoulder condition that also hampered pitcher Kenny Rogers in the past.  Could the Cardinals continue their trend of inviting local products to Spring Training? 


Royce Ring


The former first round pick was roughed up with the Atlanta Braves in 2008.  In 42 games, he was tagged with an 8.46 ERA.  At Triple-A, Ring posted an ERA of 3.00 while holding his opponents to a .167 average.  Ring has always had a live arm but control issues have delayed his career.  Good be worth a flier as a Duncan-project. 


Chris Seddon


Made 28 appearances including 27 starts for the Florida Marlins' Triple-A affiliate.  The numbers don't jump out but he did hold left-handed hitters to a .230 average.  He needs to improve his command, with 69 walks compared to 126 strikeouts in 152 innings.  The Californian doesn't have overwhelming stuff but gets by due to his knowledge of the game. 


Andy Sisco


The 6-foot-10 giant was released in October after missing all of 2008 due to Tommy John surgery.  Sisco was superb in 2005 after the Kansas City Royals took him in the Rule 5 draft.  The former Cub then took a big step backward in 2006 and was subsequently dealt to the White Sox before the 2007 season.  The 25-year-old continued his struggles on the South Side and finished with an ERA close to eight.  If healthy, it could be interesting to see if the National League is more to his liking.  When healthy, Sisco had the ability to throw his fastball in the mid-to-high nineties. 


Jason Stanford


Made 25 appearances including 22 starts split over four organizations including a stay in Mexico.  In 37 innings in Pacific Coast League action, lefties hit only .194 against him. The 31-year-old missed most of 2004 and 2005 due to Tommy John surgery.  Once considered one of the top prospects in the Cleveland Indians organization, Stanford made his major league debut in 2003. 


R.J. Swindle


In 38 minor league relief appearances, Swindle posted a 1.53 ERA while striking out 67 in 53 innings.  The 25-year-old made three appearances for the World Champion Phillies and gave up four earned runs in 4.2 innings.  Now pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League, Swindle has pitched 12 innings and lefties are hitting only .154 against him.  Swindle has a five-pitch repertoire including a 55 MPH curveball. 


Erick Threets


The native Californian made seven appearances with the San Francisco Giants posting a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings for the Giants.  He did struggle with his control during his call-up, walking nine compared to six strikeouts.  For Triple-A Fresno, Threets recorded over two groundball outs for every fly ball out over 66 innings for the Grizzlies.  Now playing in the Mexican Winter League, the 27-year-old has a 4.30 ERA in four starts.  Threets was the number 20 ranked prospect in the Giants system according to Baseball America. 


Randy Williams


The 33-year-old made 33 appearances at Triple-A Albuquerque.  For the Isotopes, he held lefties to a .240 average while posting a 2.46-to-1 groundball to fly ball ratio. 


Ryan Wing


The Oakland farmhand posted a 2.33 ERA in 47 appearances for Sacramento.  Left-handers hit .272 against him while right-handers were held to a .182 mark.  The 26-year-old is a former second round pick who possesses an excellent off-speed repertoire.



Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at


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