Dominican Winter Draft Takes Four Cardinals

Four Cardinals minor leaguers currently playing in Palm Beach and Quad Cities may be participating in the 2009 Dominican Winter League.

The Dominican Winter League held their pre-season draft to select from a pool of players from the major and minor league levels on Wednesday. The Pittsburgh Pirates' 2008 first round pick Pedro Alvarez was the overall first pick by the Estrellas Orientales and the St. Louis Cardinals had four selected by two separate clubs. The Gigantes del Cibao took left-handed starter Hector Cardenas in the sixth round, first baseman Osvaldo Morales in the tenth round, and right-handed reliever Miguel Tapia in the 11th round while the Estrellas Orientales selected right-handed reliever Joel Pichardo in the 14th round.

Cardenas, 22, was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the St. Louis Cardinals on April 20, 2006 out of Santiago, Dominican Republic. He is pitching his fourth season in the Cardinals organization in 2009. Over his first three seasons in the Cardinals' farm system, he has made 47 appearances (six starts) posting an 8-6 record, 2.75 ERA, and one save. He's allowed 82 hits, 48 runs (35 earned), four home runs, 65 walks, and struck out 108 over 114.2 innings during that period of time.

For the 2009 season, the 6-foot-3, 188-pounder was assigned to Single-A Quad Cities where he has made 18 appearances (14 starts) posting a 6-4 record, 3.61 ERA, and one save. Cardenas has allowed 74 hits, 43 runs (31 earned), three home runs, 22 walks, and struck out 49 over 77.1 innings but has been out of action since mid-July with a left arm injury.

Morales, 22, was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the St. Louis Cardinals on March 3, 2006 out of the Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He's currently in his fourth season in the organization and prior to 2009 he combined for a .235 batting average with 40 doubles, three triples, 31 home runs, 89 RBIs, 91 runs, 77 walks, and 227 strikeouts in 192 games over those three years.

This season the right-handed hitter began with Single-A Quad Cities where he went 78-for-361 (.216) with 16 doubles, 15 home runs, 74 RBIs, 42 runs, 35 walks, and 119 strikeouts in 100 games. During the early August organization roster shuffle, Morales received a promotion to A-Advanced Palm Beach to fill a spot left by injured first baseman Matt Arburr. He is currently hitting .245 with two doubles, six RBIs, two runs, two walks, and 20 strikeouts in 49 at-bats with the Florida State league club.

Tapia, 21, was a non-drafted free agent signing by the St. Louis Cardinals on November 25, 2008 out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Like Morales, Tapia is in the ending stages of his fourth season in the Redbirds Organization. Before the 2009 season, the right-hander had allowed a combined 145 hits, 74 runs (54 earned), six home runs, 78 walks, and struck out 124 over 150.1 innings over those three seasons. He also has made 51 appearances with 19 of those being starts, an 8-5 record, and earned ten saves during that time.

The 6-foot-1, 198-pounder was promoted to Single-A Quad Cities to begin the 2009 season after a quality year with the Short Season Single-A Batavia Muckdogs. He again shows the signs of being a solid long reliever and spot starter this season as he has pitched in 32 games (eight starts) with a 3-4 record and 4.92 ERA. Tapia has given up 89 hits, 52 runs (45 earned), four home runs, 39 walks, and struck out 63 over 82.1 innings. However he was placed on the disabled list on August 17 with right shoulder issues.

Pichardo, 21, was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent on April 1, 2006 out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Like the two previous, Pichardo is also finishing his fourth season in the Cardinals organization. The right-handed thrower has made a combined 52 appearances (eight starts) posting a 7-8 record, 2.68 ERA, and one save over his first three seasons. He allowed 108 hits, 43 runs (31 earned), 30 walks, and struck out 93 over 104 innings.

This season the 6-foot-0, 165-pounder received a jump over Batavia straight to Single-A Quad Cities at the end of extended spring training in late May. Pichardo has made 23 relief appearances posting a 2-1 record and 2.59 ERA. He has given up 28 hits, 12 runs (nine earned), two home runs, eight walks, and struck out 28 over 31.1 innings. Pichardo was just activated off the disabled list on August 17 in place of Miguel Tapia after taking time out with a right triceps injury.

Being selected does not necessarily mean that these players will in fact play in the league. Last season Francisco Samuel and Tony Cruz were picked but neither participated. Samuel sat out and rehabbed all off season with an injury sustained in the Florida State league playoffs and Cruz went on to play in the final season of the Hawaii Winter League.

For the full list of draft picks, visit Leones del Escogido Official Site.

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories