Selected 2009 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (28): Limited due to a finger injury in 2009, Salas quietly put together a solid season as he prepares himself for this spring. Formerly tabbed out of the Mexican League, the reliever brings a mid-to-high nineties fastball and a curveball that has the makings of a plus pitch. He extremely poised on the bump and brings a mentality ideal for late-game pressure situations.
His numbers were not nearly as impressive this past season as in 2008 but a lot of that can be contributed to his finger injury. His walk rate went up, an area in which he excelled in his first two seasons in the system. If healthy, Salas could be a weapon out of the Cardinal bullpen and should make his big league debut sometime next season.
Message board community (34): Fernando Salas was The Cardinal Nation (Birdhouse) #24 prospect after last season and despite an inferior performance this past season only dropped four slots in the rankings. This is most likely due to him receiving a pass on his 2009 season due to injuries that limited him to just 38 1/3 innings.
As his injury was not to his throwing arm, but appears limited to his pitching hand, many feel he should recover in 2010 to his 2008 form which saw him strikeout nearly 1/3 of the batters he faced and walking less than 6% while spending the year at Double-A Springfield. That performance earned him an appearance in the 2008 Futures Game.
In 2009, Salas split time between Springfield and Triple-A Memphis, where he performed well but not up to the standards he set in 2008. I would expect Salas to spend 2010 at Memphis. He will need to quickly return to near his 2008 form or Salas risk getting lost in a large shuffle of right-handed relief pitchers within the organization. - CariocaCardinal
Brian Walton (29): It has taken us over a dozen prospects in our countdown so far to come this close in our three individual rankings of a player. Perhaps the reason is Salas' relatively-quiet 2009. Despite that, the 24-year-old actually moved up two spots in my personal ranking since last winter. Perhaps that is an indication of the lowering tide affecting all boats.
In winter ball in his native Mexico, Salas' performance has been uneven to date. On the positive side, he has 12 strikeouts and just two walks in 9 2/3 innings over 14 games. Conversely, he has allowed three home runs, a .364 batting average against and a 5.59 ERA.
With five pitchers having departed the staff at Memphis since last season, if Salas' health remains, he should be able to step into a more prominent role with the Redbirds. That would position him to get his first shot in the majors should injuries strike in St. Louis.
Our 2010 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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