Two Cardinals Play in 2010 DSL All-Star Game

Pitching phenom Carlos Matias and catcher Luis Perez, both 18, are Dominican Summer League All-Stars.

The St. Louis Cardinals had two players participating in the 2010 Dominican Summer League All-Star game on Sunday. Right-hander Carlos Matias and catcher Luis Perez earned their chance to show off their talents in the mid-summer classic.

Matias, 18, had made seven starts posting a 2-1 record, 1.25 ERA, and 0.67 WHIP. He's allowed 16 hits, six runs (five earned), one home run, eight walks, and struck out 42 over 36 innings. The MiLB official site does not yet reflect his July 9 start (three scoreless innings) vs. the Brewers since the twice-postponed game is not yet official.

The Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic native already has a storied past as he begins his young professional career. Matias originally signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2009 for a $160,000 bonus, but that contract was voided after an irregular background check. He was handed a one-year mandatory suspension by Major League Baseball for age falsification.

When Matias came back on the market, teams such as the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks were among those at the front of the line to try to snatch him up for a price that reportedly ranged from $500,000 to $1 million. The St. Louis Cardinals entered quietly and signed him to a $1.5 million deal.

The bonus is being held up as another investigation into Matias' background is underway as part of his visa application to enter the US. Cardinals VP of Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow has said several times that Matias has cleared the organization's tests and that they remain optimistic they will receive the green light in the next few weeks. Matias is expected to be promoted as soon as all the paperwork is approved, but his US destination remains unknown at this time. If he is not allowed to enter the country, Matias' contract will be voided, Luhnow told Brian Walton last week.

Cardinals Director of Minor League Operations John Vuch said that Matias has great velocity and arm strength, can hit 97 mph with his fastball, and has a pretty good breaking pitch. Baseball America's Ben Badler has said that Matias could be the biggest steal in the international market if he passes all the road blocks needed to get his visa.

If/when this signing is made or not made official could dictate the extent the Cardinals pursue any other international prospects. If it goes through, they may avoid making attempts to sign other high-dollar prospects.

Luis Perez, 18, was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals on August 20, 2008 out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He began playing in the Cardinals organization last season in the Dominican Summer League. He played in 30 games going 20-for-65 (.308) with eight doubles, seven RBIs, 28 total bases, 18 runs, 22 walks, two stolen bases, eight strikeouts, two caught stealing, .494 OBP, .431 SLG, and .925 OPS.

This season, without missing a beat, the right-handed hitter has taken over the catching position handed down to him by Yorbel Alcala, Jesus Montero, and Juan Castillo. Perez has currently played in 38 games going 34-for-109 (.312) with four doubles, one triple, one home run, 20 RBIs, 43 total bases, 26 runs, 43 total bases, 21 walks, eight stolen bases, 12 strikeouts, two caught stealing, .431 OBP, .394 SLG, and 825 OPS.

Perez has improved in slowing down base stealing by opponents. In his rookie season, he threw out 19 of 49 (38%) and this season is up to 43% at 13 of 30. In comparison, Audry Perez had 45% in 2008, Alcala 52% in 2009, Castillo 40% in 2009, and Montero 31% in 2009. All stats reflect time with the Dominican ball club only.

In the DSL All-Star Game on Sunday, Matias entered the game in the fifth and pitched to one batter, striking him out and keeping his inherited runner on base. Perez came in the game in the fourth and grounded out in his only plate appearance. They were not the only two in the contest with a history connected to the Cardinals as former free agent signee Wagner Mateo manned the outfield for the National League team. The American League beat the National 4-3: Boxscore

One intriguing name that was not a part of Sunday's All-Star Game but perhaps should have been is Bryan Martinez. The right-hander has struck out a team-high 55 and walked 13 over 36 1/3 innings this season. He could be in line to start on Monday or as Luhnow hinted, may soon be on his way to Florida. The organization is known to promote one or two from their DSL club during the summer in past years as Audry Perez came up in 2008 and Jose Pasen and Juan Cabrera were called up in 2009.

Find Josh Jones blogging at Cardinals Best News Links or visit his Twitter account for occasional commentary.

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