The St. Louis Cardinals' only bullpen acquisition so far, former Colorado Rockies and Oakland Athletics closer Brian Fuentes, threw his second scoreless inning Saturday--in the Gulf Coast League, minor league baseball's furthest reaches--and will join the AA Springfield Cardinals Monday, putting him two levels away from the major leagues with a little more than a week to go before his opt-out deadline. The news about AA Springfield comes from Derrick Goold, who has the scoop on the Cardinals' Fuentes plans.
Fuentes struck out a batter in a perfect inning in his second trip through the GCL Marlins' batting order. Strikeouts were harder to come by in the major leagues for Fuentes, who in Oakland saw his K rate decline from a career mark of almost 10 per nine innings to just 6.5 in two seasons with the Athletics. In 2012 he added home runs to his list of maladies, allowing five in just 25 innings of work.
If he gets through his Texas League stint intact, the Cardinals are likely to use him as a left-handed specialist; his days as closer, presumably, are over, 204 saves into an MLB career that began back in 2001.