Saturday, February 7, 2009

St. Louis Cardinals In The Mexican Pacific League 2008-09

Now that the Caribbean Series is wrapping up we are going to focus in on the Cardinals players that participated in the Mexican Pacific League, Venezuelan league, Dominican Republic League, and Puerto Rican League during this past winter season.

First to serve will be the Mexican Pacific League with Hugo Castellanos, Fernando Salas, Francisco Rivera, Joe Rogers, and D'Marcus Ingram. Castellanos and Salas pitched in the big league LMP while Rivera, Rogers, and Ingram played in the Veracruz Instructional League or minor league version of the Mexican Pacific League.

Castellano pitched for Yaquis de Obregon and the team finished with a 29-38 record, 11 1/2 games out of first, and tip toed into the playoffs where they were eliminated first round. Salas pitched for Venados de Mazatlan in the month of December. Mazatlan finished the winter season with a 41-27 record, rebounding from a 4th place ending to their first half. They went on to claim the Mexican Pacific League championship and are gonna hold second place in the Caribbean Series. Salas did not pitch for the team in the playoffs.

Rivera was listed on the roster for Tomateros de Culiacan (LMP), but later was placed on the inactive list and latched on with Tobis de Acayucan in the Veracruz League. Ingram joined him for a couple games in December. Rogers made his long awaited return to the mound for Gavilanes de Minatitlan, after missing most of the 2008 season recovering from elbow surgery. Minatilan finished with a 36-19-1 record (2nd place in the South Division) and Acayucan with a 16-39-2 record (4th in the South Division). Both teams made the playoffs are were swept in four games.

Hugo Castellanos (Memphis-Free Agent) made 36 appearances (one start) posting a 1-3 record, 4.50 ERA, one save, and 12 holds. The 28-year old right-hander allowed 35 hits, 19 runs (18 earned), one home run, hit five batters, walked 18, and struck out 25 over 36 innings. He had a ground out-to-fly out ratio of 45-to-30, let 11 of 21 inherited runners score, and a 1.47 WHIP.

The former Memphis Redbird pitched a decent winter even if his overall numbers don't look that great. 27 of his appearances he did not give up a run and 13 no hits. This leaves nine games without a run allowed and only three of those were for three or more. Castellanos' only start came on October 22, where he was knocked out in the second inning. He gave up seven hits, six runs, one home run, and struck out one. Between December 3-19, he had a steak of nine games with a run spanning 12.2 innings. His best outing came on December 3, when he pitched three hit less and scoreless innings and struck out a season-high four. Castellanos had five appearances where he struck out two or more. However, Castellanos was the pitcher that gave up the losing run to end Obregon's season in the playoffs.

He should pick up with a team sometime during the 2009 season. I won't go out on a limb and say it will be a MLB team, but probably he'll make a return back in the Triple-A Mexican League when it opens for play on March 24 and 25.

Fernando Salas (Springfield) made seven relief appearances posting a 2-0 record, 9.39 ERA, and one hold. The 23-year old right-hander allowed eight hits, eight earned runs, three home runs, four walks, and struck out five over 7.2 innings. He had a ground out-to-fly out ratio of 7-to-10 and 1.57 WHIP.

The second-year Cardinal pitcher was activated on December 1 and made his debut on the third, much like last winter. Salas had a warm welcome in his debut when he chalked up a solo home run in his first inning pitched and gave up another three runs in his next outing. As soon as the rust wore off he was pitching lights out. Over his next four appearances he gave up one hit, no runs, and struck out three in 5.2 innings. But his very last game ended badly with him allowing four hits, four runs, two home runs, and one walk. Salas picked up his first of two wins on December 12 and only hold on December 16.

The 2008 Futures Games participant has been getting a lot of praise from the Cardinals scouts and had a great first full-season in the organization in 2008. I'd look for him to get a big look during the 2009 St. Louis Cardinals spring camp, and a spot on the Triple-A Memphis roster when all is said and done. I also wouldn't rule out him getting a cup of coffee later in the regular season in the big leagues if he continues to pitch like he did last year, especially if the current closer options do not work out.

Joe Rogers (Memphis) made five appearances (four starts) posting a 1-0 record and 3.88 ERA. The 27-year old left-hander allowed 18 hits, seven earned runs, four home runs, three walks, and struck out eight over 16.2 innings. He had a ground out-to-fly out ratio even at 18-to-18.

The second-time Cardinal affiliate made his return debut to the mound on November 21 after missing the 2008 season with Tommy John surgery. The club started him out slow and he was pitching up to five innings into his fourth start before being moved into the bullpen. Rogers didn't allow a hit or run in his first game and no runs in his second. But gradually start showing signs of fatigue as the winter season went on giving up two or three runs in his last three outings. He struck out a season-high three on November 28 and picked up his only win on December 11.

Rogers is as far I know still apart of the Cardinals organization at this moment and it's always good when you can find a quality lefty for the rotation or bullpen when needed. The thing that rose a little concern was how his ground out-to-fly out ratio flip flopped from his first start to his last. He was keeping the ball down and it gradually turned into mostly fly balls, this not counting the four home runs he gave up in the last two starts. Possibility he was not fully recovered just yet.

Francisco Rivera (Quad Cities) played in 38 games batting .285 (35-for-123) with a .374 SLG and .376 OBA. The 20-year old left-handed swinger had two doubles, three home runs, 17 RBIs, scored 19 runs, and walked once. He was 2-for-3 in stolen base attempts, struck out 14% of the time and committed four errors. Rivera played 17 games in right field, 16 as designated hitter, two at shortstop, one at first base, and two as pinch hitter.

The first-year Cardinals hitter opened the winter season reaching base in his first nine games, including a five-game hitting streak (7-for-18, .388). Rivera also had a 11-game hitting streak that ran from November 11-December 3, where he went 14-for-38 (.368). He had eight multi-hit games and four multi-RBI games. He drove in his first run on October 21 and clubbed his first home run on November 29. Rivera's best game came on November 30 when he went 4-for-4 with one double, one home run, three RBIs, and scored two runs. In the playoffs he had a .545 AVG with one double, one home run, three RBIs in four games.

Rivera will probably see a promotion to A-Advanced Palm Beach. It seems he's recovered real well from the injury he sustained at the end of the 2008 season and swung the bat well in Instructional League. He could see a little more time in the outfield as the season progresses.

D'Marcus Ingram (Quad Cities) played in three games (between December 4-6) batted .083 (1-for-12)with a .166 SLG and .083 OBA. The 20-year old right-handed swinger had one double (December 5), one run, and struck out twice. All three of his games he manned right field.

Other players that were rumored to be playing in the Mexican Pacifc League:
Jason Motte (St. Louis) had been announced to be pitching for Naranjeros de Hermosillo. But it was later scratched.
Ron Flores (Memphis-free agent) was another earlier announcment by Mayos de Navojoa. He went on to pitch for Bravos de Margarita in the Venezuelan League, experimenting with a new arm slot and signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds.
Amaury Marti (Memphis) signed a contract with intent to play the outfield for Algodoeros de Guasave and continue in Mexico after spending the majority of the 2008 season with the Triple-A Mexican League's Diablos Rojos de Mexico. The Cardinals stepped in a sent him to the Domincian Republic League where he played for Licey de Tigres.

St. Louis Cardinals In Venezuelan Parallel Leagues 2008

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