Gulf Coast League Cardinals Notebook: Week 9

More scouting reports plus all the news from the back fields of Jupiter, Florida about the St. Louis Cardinals' Gulf Coast League club as the playoffs near. Luis Perdomo, Ramon Ulacio, Max Foody, Kender Villegas and Handel De Los Santos are among this week's featured players.

Comings and goings

RHP Ramon Delgado, who had a setback during extended spring training when he developed shoulder inflammation while recovering from Tommy John surgery last June, was assigned to the GCL Cardinals and made his season debut Friday with a 1-2-3 inning, including a strikeout. Delgado, a 41st-round selection in the 2007 draft out of Pima Community College in his native Tucson, Ariz., pitched for Springfield last season.

Weekly Recap

After losing their first three games this week, allowing an average of 10 runs a game, the Cardinals had lost nine of 12. Then, seemingly from nowhere, they won in back-to-back shutouts.

The Cardinals (32-22) finished the week Saturday with a loss to the Marlins, who started rehabbing Alex Sanabia. That gave the Cardinals their second consecutive losing week after going the first seven weeks without one. Meanwhile, the second-place Astros' game with the Nationals was suspended, so the Cardinals' magic number to clinch their first-ever GCL division title remains at two.

It is those shutouts, in games started by Johnny Polanco and Fidencio Flores, and the continued effectiveness of his top relievers – mainly Norge Paredes, Josh Renfro and Anderson Gerdel – that keep manager Steve Turco from worrying about his presumptive first postseason appearance.

"I don't assume anything," Turco said after Saturday's loss left the division unclinched. "As long as we don't spot a team too many runs early in a game, I think we have a chance to finish on a positive note."

With games against the Astros on Monday and Tuesday, Turco said he hopes to wrap up the playoff spot early in the week so he can "give days off to some of the guys who've been playing a lot, though we've been doing that throughout the season."

With a week to go in the GCL regular schedule, the Cardinals hold the biggest division lead at six games, but the Pirates and Tigers have a one-game edge in the push for the best overall record, which earns home advantage in the postseason.

The Pirates and Tigers are tied atop the North Division at 33-21, while the Yankees lurk one game back. The Red Sox lead the Twins by two games in the South Division Here is a link to the GCL playoff procedures page.

The younger Perdomo
Player spotlight

RHP Luis Perdomo is first cousins with the Minnesota Twins right-handed pitcher of the same name who also was once property of the Cardinals. The new Cardinals' Perdomo, a 19-year-old who was signed in 2010, is almost nine years younger than his cousin, who is the son of his father Teofilo's brother Mateo. Both Luis Perdomos were born in San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic.

The Twins' Luis Perdomo, who made his major-league debut with San Diego in 2009, was originally signed by Cleveland in 2003, but did not make his professional debut until 2006 in the Gulf Coast League. In July 2008, the Cardinals acquired him from the Indians for Anthony Reyes, but lost him to San Francisco that winter in the Rule V draft. San Diego claimed him on waivers in April 2008. He signed with Minnesota last November as a minor league free agent.

A Closer Look at …

By the end of the GCL season, we will have at least one report on every player who appears on the GCL Cardinals roster. This week, we look at three players who are new to the GCL Cardinals this season. These assessments are based on interviews with Cardinals pitching coach Tim Leveque.


Kender Villegas: The 19-year-old Venezuelan right-hander has been hit consistently by opponents this season, his first on American soil after compiling 55 innings over two seasons as a reliever in Venezuela and the Dominican. While his strikeout-to-walk ratio is decent (35/14), Villegas "doesn't miss a lot of bats and has given up a lot of hits (67 in 48 IP, though only two home runs)," Leveque said.

His fastball ranges from 87 to 90 mph, and he's been working on a two-seamer in an effort to develop more late movement. For his secondary pitches, his changeup is better than his slider, Leveque said. The coach said Villegas has learned a lot and showed good improvement this season.

Max Foody: The 19-year-old Florida native who was the Cardinals' 12th-round pick in June has temporarily lost his command. After allowing one walk in 12-1/3 innings over his first four appearances, Foody has walked 14 in his last three starts, getting no more than three outs in any of them.

At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, it can be easy to forget the left-hander is fresh out of high school, and didn't pitch in his senior year after labrum surgery.

"He's had flashes when he's been pretty good," Leveque said. "But he's never faced professional hitters before." Foody's fastball sits around 90 mph and touches 92. Because he lost the tip of his left index finger in a dirt bike accident when he was 14, Foody has natural movement to his pitches that sometimes gets away from him. Leveque said Foody has a plus curveball in the 77-81 range, but his changeup is a work in progress.

Like most young pitchers, when Foody gets in trouble he tries to throw harder, but ends up rushing his mechanics and losing his rhythm and release point. Instead, Leveque said, he needs to learn from great pitchers like Greg Maddux and Sandy Koufax, who though almost complete opposites in most regards, had at least one thing in common.

"When I was in a jam, I always thought softer, not harder," Leveque said Maddux told him.

De Los Santos
Hansel De Los Santos: The Dominican right-hander turned 21 this month and celebrated two days later with the best outing of his brief career, seven no-hit innings in a 7-1 win over the Astros. The next start after that, however, was disastrous, with nine earned runs on 11 hits and three walks in 4-1/3 innings.

Like most pitchers, when he elevates his fastball, he gets hurt, Leveque said. "Sometimes in the GCL you can get away with it, and sometimes you don't," he said.

Like Villegas, De Los Santos is not a strikeout pitcher, but doesn't hand out free passes easily either. His fastball runs 88 to 91 mph and he also features a decent slider and changeup, with an occasional splitter that is still a work in progress.

Before the roller coaster of his most recent two starts, De Los Santos had been among the team's most consistent starters.

Ramon Ulacio: After a pretty good showing last year in his first season in the GCL, the 21-year-old Venezuelan seems to have regressed some this season, his fourth year in pro ball. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-hander has allowed 48 hits and 23 walks in 35-2/3 innings, mostly in relief. His WHIP increased from 1.20 in 12 starts last season to 1.99 this year.

Leveque said Ulacio "has pretty good stuff," a fastball that runs 89 to 92 mph, a pretty good palm ball and a curveball. Ulacio seems to lack consistent mechanics, though in the past two weeks Ulacio has shown some improvement and more consistency.

Ulacio's problem, Leveque said, is "not about his stuff being consistent but being able to repeat good pitches."

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