Cards Rookie Reliever of the Year

Batavia's Josh Squatrito is the Cardinal Nation Rookie Reliever of the Year. We offer a recap of his superb professional debut along with comments from Squatrito.

Josh Squatrito might not have been drafted until the 25th round but with the season he put together, one would not know he was a late round pick. With a record of 4-1 to go along with 1.37 ERA, the 22-year-old is the Cardinal Nation Rookie Reliever of the Year.

The Towson University career leader in saves racked up 35 strikeouts and only six walks in 26.1 innings during his professional debut. Along the way, he picked up his first pro save while finishing 11 games for the Batavia Muckdogs.

In his last 10 appearances on the season, he allowed only one earned run while striking out 22 in 12.2 innings. Over his last 9.2 innings, he did not issue a walk.

With the third most appearances on the team, he posted a BB/9 mark of just over two while holding opponents to a .220 average. On a team chock full of control artists, he held his own with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.83-to-1.

Of the batters he faced, 33.7% were relegated to the bench shaking their head after falling victim to another Squatrito strikeout.

He ranked 12th in the New York-Penn League in K/9 with 11.96 and ERA of those pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched. His FIP of 0.02 was the fourth best mark in the league.

Recently, Josh was kind enough to talk about his first season in professional baseball.

Dustin Mattison: First off, Congratulations on being named the Cardinals Rookie Reliever of the Year.

Josh Squatrito: Thanks, Dustin.

DM: Now that your first season is complete, can you compare the pitcher you were when you first made it to Batavia to the pitcher you are now.

JS: When I first got to Batavia I had no idea what pro ball would be like. To be honest, it was tiring at first. I was inexperienced. But as the season grew, so did I. Now, I am much smarter and more confident in my stuff.

DM: What does it mean to you that your manager Mark DeJohn called you the team's most improved player?

JS: Being considered the most improved player means a lot. Looking back on how hard it was for me just to get to pro ball shows what kind of work ethic I have. This is what I want to do for a living, and improving everyday is a must.

DM: Your manager also had this to say: "All of a sudden, this kid started throwing a little harder and he started spotting, locating his fastball like a big leaguer. He had a lot of strikeouts. He was just lights out when we would bring him in. He would get strikeouts just throwing his fastball and hitting corners. He would just keep doing it and keep the ball down. It was amazing." Can you put your finger a moment when everything came together?

JS: Everything came together after the advice from (Batavia pitching coach) Tim Leveque for me to go to the windup and use more momentum towards home plate. I was always confident in my fastball, but going back to the windup gave me more momentum and it allowed me to be more relaxed. This changed in an outing at Auburn early in the season where I threw two innings and had four strikeouts.

DM: What are you working on this winter?

JS: This winter I'm working on getting down to 210 lbs to be more prepared for a full season. When I start throwing again I need to work on my off-speed stuff, figure out either a consistent curveball or slider. This season I didn't use much off-speed but I know I need to in order to move up the ladder and pitch against more disciplined hitters.

DM: What are your goals for 2010?

JS: In 2010, I want to be on a full season squad. After that I want to just throw strikes and get people out. If I'm not throwing strikes, I won't have a chance to move up.

I thank Josh for his time and once again congratulate him on being the Cardinal Nation's Rookie Reliever of the Year.

Honorable Mention

David Kington was named an Appalachian League All-Star after posting a 2-1 record to go along with a 3.31 ERA. His eight saves paced the league.

Teammate Aaron Terry was even more dominant out of the bullpen than Kington. Terry finished with a record of 6-0 with six saves to his credit while holding his opponents to a 2.08 ERA. Along the way, he logged 36 strikeouts in 26 innings.

Note: To follow our entire series of Players of the Year at each level of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system, check back here at The Cardinal Nation daily. To see the roster of winners and article schedule, click here.

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