2009 VSL Cards: One All-Star, Two Gold Gloves

Cardinals Hector Garcia, Roberto Perez and Carlos Oraa receive 2009 Venezuelan Summer League honors.

The Venezuelan Summer League announced its 2009 award winners Thursday following the Rays championship win over the Pirates. Cardinals third baseman Hector Garcia was named to the 2009 VSL All-Star team and the league awarded first baseman Roberto Perez and starting pitcher Carlos Oraa with Gold Gloves.

Garcia, 19, was an undrafted free agent signed by the St. Louis Cardinals on June 29, 2007. Assigned to the VSL branch of the Cardinals system, he played in 25 games batting .174 with three doubles, two home run, nine RBIs, eight runs, and 18 strikeouts in 92 at-bats during the 2007 season. The right-handed hitter spent the following year in Venezuela where he hit a much improved .282 with nine doubles, two home runs, 23 RBIs, 18 runs, and 37 strikeouts in 206 at-bats. Garcia was a candidate for the Scout.com VSL Cardinals Position Player of the Year in 2008 falling short of co-winners Gerardo Mambell and Alberto Rivero.

In 2009, the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder has put together his best season yet, batting .314 with 16 doubles, five home runs, 36 RBIs, 103 total bases, 27 runs, 17 walks, 32 strikeouts, .378 OBP, .450 SLG, and .828 OPS. He led the Cardinals in batting average, hits, doubles, RBIs, total bases, OBP, SLG, and OPS. Among the league leaders, Garcia was ranked sixth in doubles and ninth in slugging.

Perez, 20, was an undrafted free agent signing by the Cardinals on February 15, 2007. He played 43 games in 2007 with the VSL Cardinals, batting .155 with four doubles, two home runs, 13 RBIs, 13 runs, 15 walks, and 36 strikeouts in 136 at-bats. Perez played in four different positions that season mainly at first base, but also took turns in right field and as catcher with a perfect fielding percentage of 1.000. In his 2008 season, the right-handed hitter went 31-for-179 (.196) with five doubles, three home runs, 16 RBIs, 17 runs, 18 walks, and 39 strikeouts in 54 games. He had a .987 fielding percentage playing all his games in the field at first base.

The 6-foot-0, 185-pounder had probably one of the biggest improvements from last season to this year, compared to the rest of the team. He batted .262 with 13 doubles, eight home runs, 30 RBIs, 28 runs, 35 walks, and 42 strikeouts in 63 games. Perez also carried a .992 fielding percentage and committed just four errors in the 56 games he played at first base. In his career he has been involved in 86 double plays and has a career .989 fielding percentage.

Oraa, 19, was an undrafted free agent signing by the Cardinals on February 10, 2007. He began his professional career with the Venezuelan League Cardinals and made 14 relief appearances posting an 0-1 record, 3.44 ERA, and one save. The right-handed thrower gave up 13 hits, eight runs (seven earned), nine walks, and struck out eight over 18.1 innings. In 2008, he remained in the bullpen and made 19 relief appearances posting a 3-2 record and 2.31 ERA. Oraa allowed 38 hits, 13 runs (nine earned), one home run, 14 walks, and struck out 24 over 35 innings. He did not commit an error in his career until his second season of pro ball and also assisted in two double plays.

In 2009, Oraa was moved into the starting rotation where he made 14 starts posting a 5-2 record and 3.04 ERA. He gave up 65 hits, 25 runs (23 earned), one home run, 13 walks, and struck out 48 over 68 innings. The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder did not commit a single error over the 68 innings pitched and even assisted in one double play.

All three should receive heavy consideration for a possible shot at fall instructional league in Florida and/or extended spring training during the spring. If not, you will most likely catch them in the Venezuelan Parallel League in October through December this coming winter.

For a full list of the Venezuelan League All-Stars and awards visit Comandante de Beisbol here.

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