2009 Gulf Coast League Cardinals Team Review

Senior Minor League Writer Dustin Mattison takes a look back at the 2009 season of the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.

In only its third year of existence, the Gulf Coast League Cardinals had what has to be considered a successful campaign despite the team's record. The Cardinals posted the team's best ever winning percentage, .446, and a new mark in victories with 25.

GCL Cardinals Record History
Year Record % GB
2009 25-31 0.446 13.5
2008 17-38 0.309 16
2007 24-30 0.444 15.5

The team's longest winning streak of the season was a modest three games starting on August 3 and continuing during a double header the next day. On the other end, the team experienced losing streaks of five, four, and three games.

But more important than wins and losses, the GCL gives Latin American players an environment to make their North American debut on the field as well as adjust to a new culture off of it. The most notable of those was last year's big dollar international signee, Roberto De La Cruz. The now-17-year-old third baseman received the largest bonus ever paid out by the Cardinals on the international market.

Along with the Latin players, the Cardinals sent 12 youngsters from the 2009 MLB Player draft to their GCL club.

Not only did the Florida site provide a place for a young player to get his feet wet but it also offered a site to begin rehab play for the likes of David Freese, Joe Mather, Mike Parisi, and Jaime Garcia.

Team Hitting

The Cardinals offense included six players drafted in 2009 including sixth round selection Virgil Hill. As a team, Cardinal batters posted a .243 average, the fifth best mark in the league. That is a drastic improvement considering the team ranked last in the league in BA the previous season.

Other bright spots include the team on base percentage of .328, the fourth best mark in the league, along with the team scoring the fifth most runs, 245.

Team Pitching

The pitching staff was also headlined by six players signed from this June's draft. Hector Hernandez was the highest drafted player to debut at Roger Dean Stadium. The Cardinals drafted him in the 10th round out of Puerto Rico.

The pitching staff finished 15 out of 16 teams with a 4.14 ERA and with a WHIP of 1.39. Interestingly enough, that is drastically better than the team's 2008 ERA of 5.49 and WHIP of 1.63.

The pitching staff finished with 13 saves as a team, led by Keith Butler's six which was the sixth best mark in the league. The team ranked 10th in strikeouts with 410 and 14th walks with 214.

One of the few bright spots was that the team kept the ball in the park, ranking fourth in HR allowed with only 11.

Dustin can be contacted at dustin@whiteyball.com. Follow Dustin on Twitter.

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