Selected 2010 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (12): Originally found in the Mexican League, Salas has proven himself on each level including a solid first year in the big leagues. Even though his impeccable control failed him at times, he still finished with a solid 3.52 ERA in 30 2/3 innings.
The 25-year-old's fastball sits in the mid-nineties with good life. He shows good poise on the mound and the temperament to be a late inning reliever. If he can prove to pitch multiple innings, he could easily slide into Blake Hawksworth's role in the Cardinals bullpen. Salas seems to have more upside than Hawks, with better strikeout and walk numbers in each level of the minors.
Barring any pickups, Salas should break camp with the big club. Bill James projects him to post a K/9 rate of 9.82 and a BB/9 rate of 2.86. He will most likely start the season in the early innings but if any of the late inning guys stumble, he could see more action with the game on the line.
Message board community (17): Much like our #15 prospect (Adron Chambers), Fernando Salas' brief career has been marked by steady improvement. After suffering through a miserable first year in the US (5.26 ERA in a pitcher's league), Salas has been on an upward trajectory improving his batting average against every year with a career best (minor league) number of .208.
Though he had minor control problems in 2009 with a 24/10 K/BB ratio after an outstanding 100/16 ratio in 2008, Salas bounced back with a solid 44/9 ratio in 2010. The area of Salas' greatest improvement though has been his tendency to cut back on the number of home runs allowed. After giving up double digit home runs in 2006, 2007, and 2008, he has reduced his minor league numbers to four and two the last two years. He did yield four homers in his brief (30 inning) major league debut in 2010 so that is something to watch going forward.
Not often mentioned among the Cardinals Latin free agent signings since he is not from the hotbeds of the Dominican Republic or Venezuela (he is from Mexico), Salas is actually the first Latin signing for many years and the first of the Jeff Luhnow era to make it to the majors. It was a strong major league debut with a solid 3.52 ERA that should put him in line to compete in 2011 for the bullpen opening created by the trade of Blake Hawksworth this off season. - CariocaCardinal
Brian Walton (15): In 2010, Salas, one of two Redbirds representatives in the Triple-A All-Star Game, made the trip between St. Louis and Memphis what I believe to be a record six times.
His Triple-A manager, Chris Maloney, summarizes Salas' offerings while admiring his approach.
"He's got a plus changeup, a little better than average fastball and a good breaking pitch," the manager said. "The thing about him is that is really impressive is that he comes in and pounds the strike zone."
Salas' season ERA with Memphis was an uninspiring 3.79 due in a large part to one inexplicable six-run outing. When considering FIP, however, which is intended to eliminate everything a pitcher cannot control but still uses the same scale as ERA, the answer is very different. Salas' 2.30 FIP led all Redbirds relievers by over a run.
His poise has been noted up and down the line.
"He picked up every save but one that he had an opportunity for and made most of them look pretty easy," Maloney recalled. "Nothing fazed him. He was just going to go out there and stick in the strike zone and say, ‘You've got to hit me.' He did a great job."
The only question in 2011 is whether Salas will do that great job in St. Louis or once again ride the I-55 shuttle all season long.
Our 2011 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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