Elvis Has Left the Cardinals Building Forever

The St. Louis Cardinals have released five minor leaguers, including Elvis "The Mosquito" Hernandez.

With the conclusion of the 2009 regular season, the St. Louis Cardinals have begun their annual process of pruning their ranks in preparation for others to move up in 2010.

The five released players are Elvis Hernandez, Guillermo Toribio, Jack Cawley, Tyler Leach and Matt Rigoli. They came from four different clubs at the A-Advanced level and below. Two are pitchers, two are infielders and one is a catcher.

Two were international signings from the Dominican Republic, while three were draft picks, one from high school and the other two from the same college. The five range from having put in five professional seasons down to two.

Name Pos 2009 Team Acquired
Elvis Hernandez RHP Palm Beach (A Adv) FA 03/05
Guillermo Toribio 2B Quad Cities (A) FA 04/06
Jack Cawley C Quad Cities (A) 34th 2008
Tyler Leach RHP Batavia (SS-A) 39th 2005
Matt Rigoli 1B Johnson City (SS-R) 21st 2008

Elvis Hernandez was signed in March, 2005. Because of his tall and slender build, the 6-foot-3, 180-pounder acquired the nickname, "The Mosquito". The right-hander began his professional career in the Dominican Summer League in 2005 and moved up the Johnson City the next season.

2007 brought another promotion, this time to the Midwest League, where he joined Quad Cities' tandem starting rotation. Elvis was a mid-season All-Star but also missed time with a quad strain and a shoulder problem.

After not being activated until May, 2008 because of the shoulder issue, Hernandez was moved into the bullpen shortly after joining with Palm Beach. He was back on the DL by early August.

An oblique strain with Springfield returned him to the DL with the 2009 season barely a month old. Upon his July 1 return, Hernandez was sent back down to Palm Beach. He rejoined the disabled list in August.

Each year, Hernandez' control worsened to the point he walked more than one batter per inning in each of the last two seasons. Since becoming a reliever, he was mostly unable to keep his ERA under five.

Guillermo Toribio was signed in April, 2006 and debuted in the Dominican Summer League where he batted .198 at the age of 19. In 2007, he showed one of the top batting eyes in the Gulf Coast League. Toribio had the third-highest walk total in the GCL and his .389 on-base percentage ranked fourth.

The switch-hitter moved up to Johnson City in 2008, batting just .212. Primarily a second baseman, Toribio moved into an infield utility role. The Cardinals tried to jump him over Batavia in 2009, but he hit just .153/.240/.200 in 85 at-bats over 31 games for Quad Cities.

Toribio was sent down to the New York-Penn League Muckdogs at the end of June where he actually posted a lower OPS, .159/.196/.182. Still, after five weeks, he was returned to Quad Cities, where he finished his final Cardinals season.

Jack Cawley got off to a good start with the bat, finishing his initial professional season with a line of .330/.426/.413 in 33 games for the 2008 Johnson City Cardinals.

This season, the now-23-year-old right-handed hitter moved from Batavia to Quad Cities in early July. Cawley had reached base often in his nine games with the Muckdogs with a .300/.417/.333 line. With the River Bandits, he struggled the rest of the way with a .222/.322/.333 line, as his power continued to lag.

Tyler Leach was drafted in the 39th round out of a North Carolina high school way back in 2005. No offense to the right-hander in any way, but how he managed to remain under contract for five years despite pitching in a total of just 38 games is amazing.

After his 2005 debut in with Johnson City, Leach sat out the entire 2006 season following Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. He returned to the Appalachian League in 2007 only to have to sit out all of 2008 due to shoulder problems.

Leach actually achieved his career high in 2009 with 36 1/3 innings and 15 games with Batavia. Unfortunately, he also hit a personal high in ERA at 6.44 and ends his Cardinals career with a 6.02 ERA and a 1.734 WHIP.

Matt Rigoli was Cawley's former teammate at Pace University in New York. The left-handed hitter struggled with the bat as a minor leaguer, not rising above Johnson City in his second professional season.

Turning 24 next month, the clock ran out on the son of Joe Rigoli, a professional scout for the Cardinals. Across his two Appalachian League seasons, Matt's line was .194/.339/.281 in 139 at-bats over 58 games.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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