VSL Cardinals Report: August 2, 2009

Josh Jones' weekly report on the 2009 Venezuelan Summer League Cardinals. The fourth-place club went just 1-4 on the week.

The Venezuelan Summer League Cardinals took a pretty good hit this period only winning one of five games.  The Redbirds sit on a 32-32 record and 13.5 games out of first with five (possibly six) games left in the season.  The team sits in fourth place and need to win all their remaining games to make a run for the championship game.  The Cardinals are 16-16 at both home and on the road.


The Cardinals opened this last week on the road against the Mets.  The Redbirds received almost perfect pitching from their starter.  When it came time to hand the game over to the bullpen, the game ran away from the Cardinals.  The Redbirds had a 2-1 lead heading into the sixth and the Mets plated 11 runs in the final three frames.  The Mets won 12-2 taking advantage of the weak Cardinals relievers and the seven errors the team committed.


The Cardinals stayed on the road and visited the Phillies in the next game.  The Redbirds were able to all over the Phils starter and following reliever, scoring seven runs on him in the first five innings.  The Cardinals starter pitched great and the bullpen came in to hold the lead despite coughing up four runs in the final four innings.  The Cardinals went on to claim their only victory of this period with a 7-5 win.


The Tigers came to town to take on the Cardinals in the next contest.  Once again everything went wrong for the Redbirds.  The Cardinals fell behind early and committed a couple errors while the starting pitching and bullpen did a nose dive mid-game.  The Tigers scored six runs in the fifth and didn't look back winning 9-3.


The Cardinals went back out on the road to face the Pirates.  The Redbirds hoping to get a solid outing from their ace were surprised by his off day.  The Bucs took an early lead with four runs in the first four frames, with the help of the Cardinals errors.  The Redbirds bullpen changed it up and pitched well in the final four innings, but the team's offense didn't make the big comeback falling short 5-4 to the Pirates.


The Mariners welcomed in the Cardinals in the next game.  The Cardinals hoping an off day would refresh the team were mistaken.  The M's jumped all over the Redbirds spot starter for five runs in the first four innings.  The Cardinals then committed a pair of errors giving the M's a 7-2 lead heading into the final three innings.  The Redbirds again fell short adding two more but losing 7-4 in the end to the Mariners.


The Cardinals were scheduled to visit the Rays in the final game of this period, but the contest was postponed due to rain.  The game may or may not be made up, probably depending on the standings in the final days.


Who's Hot


Jem Argenal came alive in this past week and ended it with a four-game multi-hit streak.  The 17-year old left-handed hitter went 9-for-20 (.450) with one double, one triple, six RBIs, two runs, one walk, one sac fly, and four strikeouts.  He played all his games in left field except for one where he split time in both right and left and committed on fielding error.  The rookie VSL player is hitting .342 (13-for-38) in his last ten games with nine RBIs.


Wilfred Vivas is riding a seven-game hitting and 11-game on base streak.  The 19-year old right-handed hitter went 7-for-20 (.350) with one triple, two RBIs, three runs, two walks, two stolen bases, one sacrifice, two strikeouts, three caught stealing, and grounded into one double play.  He split his five games between both second base and shortstop, where he assisted in four double plays.


Roberto Perez has been walked in six straight games and is back to swinging the bat like earlier in the season.  The 20-year old right-handed hitter went 6-for-18 (.333) with two doubles, one home run, one RBI, five runs, six walks, and five strikeouts.  He played three games at first base and the last two as designated hitter. 


Deimer Bier was one of two starter to put together a solid outing for the team (other being Carlos Oraa).  The 18-year old right-hander made his start on July 26 pitching five innings and allowing four hits, one earned run, one walk, and striking out seven.  Since June 9, the second-year VSL pitcher has given up 35 hits, nine earned runs, 11 walks, and struck out 59 over 45 innings for a 3-2 record and 1.80 ERA.


Gregorio Ramos was one of the few arms out of the bullpen that came through for the club.  The 19-year old right-hander came in on July 29 to eat up some innings for the Cardinals after their starter was knocked out early.  Ramos proceeded to pitch three innings only giving up three hits, one earned run, one intentional walk, and striking out one.  The second-year VSL pitcher has made much improvement in the month of July allowing ten hits and four earned runs over 10.1 innings.


Who's Not


Alexander Castellano is still struggling to find his swing and get back into the starting lineup.  The 20-year old switch-hitter went 0-for-6 with three strikeouts during this past week and is 5-for-34 (.147) in July.  He played two games as the teams designated hitter and has watched his batting average make a major drop since the beginning of the season.


Tharick Martines had his chance to catch an eye and earn more playing time, but fell very short.  The 18-year old right-handed hitter went 0-for-10 with one RBI, one run, one walk, and three strikeouts.  He played two games in right field and split one game between right and center, committing one fielding error and showing off the cannon with two outfield assists (one leading to a double play).


Javier Avendano had one of those 'un-ace' like starts that many have.  The 18-year old right-hander started on July 29 allowing seven hits, four earned run, three walks, two wild pitches, and striking out two over four innings.


Sergio Nieves is watching his starts gradually get worse as the season winds down.  The 17-year old right-hander was knocked around for nine hits, seven runs (five earned), one home run, and struck out two over four innings for his fourth losing decision.  Over the last couple weeks he is giving up more and more earned runs as his innings pitched decline.


John DeAguas had an unpleasant second spot start this season.  The 17-year old left-hander made his start on July 31, giving up eight hits, five earned runs, three walks, and striking out one in just under four innings (three and two-thirds).  His first start of the season he logged five scoreless innings and his latest he gave up his first earned run all year.


The Happenings


Angelo Echeverria (June 12) and Gerwuins Velazco (July 6) are both still out with injuries and most likely done for the season.


Jose Weffer has not pitched since July 24 and Hector Corpas since July 25.


Both Jose Cortez and Carlos Yegues have not played since July 26.


Ildemaro Vargas returned to action after being out eight days.  The 17-year old right-handed hitter went 2-for-8 (.250) with one run, two strikeouts, and one caught stealing in two games.


Ramon Ulacio also returned to action on the mound.  The 18-year old right-hander made two appearances pitching three innings and allowing four hits, three earned runs, three walks, and striking out two.


The Nicaraguan Prospect League will begin play August 1, 2009.  This is the same league that Jem Argenal, Johnny Polanco, and highly touted prospect Chelsor Cuthbert all played in last fall-winter.


And Nicaragua will re-open its winter league program on October 23.  Last season they did not play due to lack of finances, but several businesses have put money into the league so it can return for the 2009-10 season.  A couple changes to the league....San Fernando is the only team not returning and Granada (who won the Nicaraguan National Championship this summer) will take its place, no team will handle the money for each individual club, and teams will be limited to only three foreign-born players and must include at least five prospects for development (and scouting purposes) on their rosters.  In past seasons Ryde Rodriguez, Amaury Marti Cazana, and Luke Gorsett have participated.


Venezuelan Summer League Stats


The Cardinals hitting dropped even further down from .257 to .255 and now find themselves second-to-last in the league.  The team ranks second in strikeouts; third in home runs; fourth in walks, OBP, and OPS; fifth in total bases and SLG; and sixth in runs, doubles, triples, RBIs, and stolen bases. 


The Cardinals pitching also took a big hit with their ERA rising from 3.68 to 3.88 and their WHIP tip-toed from 1.40 to 1.43 on the season.  The team ranks first in saves; second in strikeouts and holds; third in ERA, shut outs (tied), hits, and walks (tie), fourth in WHIP; fifth in runs and earned runs; sixth in home runs; and seventh in hit by pitches.


Hector Garcia is seventh in batting average, tied for ninth in hits, tied for third in doubles, tenth in RBIs, tied for seventh in total bases, ninth in SLG, and tied for eight in OPS.

Ildemaro Vargas is tied for third in triples and tied for tenth in stolen bases.

Kaizer Inojoza is tied for seventh in triples.

Roberto Perez is tied for sixth in home runs and second in walks, tenth in SLG.

Osmir Medina is tied for eight in stolen bases.

Anthony Fonseca is tied for tenth in stolen bases.

Javier Avendano is in second in ERA, tied for third in wins, sixth in innings pitched, tied for fourth in strikeouts, and tied for sixth in WHIP.

Deimer Bier is in sixth in ERA and second in strikeouts.

Carlos Oraa is in eight in ERA and tied for sixth in WHIP.

Hector Corpas is tied for second in saves and sixth in game finishes.

Francisco Guzman is tied for second in saves and tied for third in game finishes.

Sergio Nieves is in seventh in innings pitched.

Fernando Cedeno is in first in holds.

Ramon Ulacio and Johnny Polanco are tied with others for sixth in holds.


Final Week Schedule (Overall, vs. Cardinals)

August 2: Mets (27-37, 3-7)

August 3: Phillies (24-40, 4-7)

August 4: Off Day

August 5: @ Mets (27-37, 3-7)

August 6: Off Day

August 7: @ Mariners (36-27, 9-2)

August 8: Rays - Possible Doubleheader (37-27, 6-4)



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