The St. Louis Cardinals have shown offensive prowess over the last week, racking up the run support and showing midseason form at the plate. The offense was impressive, but may have been overshadowed by the presence of pitching prospect Michael Wacha.
Wacha took the mound behind starter Lance Lynn on Wednesday against the Mets. The young prospect was making his second appearance in a Spring Training that has had many Cardinal officials raving about his work. On the heels of Wednesday’s performance, I doubt the hype will be dying down anytime soon.
Mets announcers seem to be uttering the same phrase repeatedly in that highlight, “Oh Boy” seemed to be the order of the day.
The Cardinal farmhand took over for Lance Lynn to start the third inning and went right to work striking out Mets’ shortstop Ruben Tejada. Superstar David Wright would follow with a base hit, the only blemish on Wacha’s day, before Ike Davis and Marlon Byrd would send fly balls into left field for an easy inning.
If the third inning was easy, the fourth was borderline dominant. Lucas Duda and Justin Turner would both strike out, the former looking and the latter swinging, before John Buck would ground out weakly to second baseman Daniel Descalso.
The fifth inning would be more of the same with different names at the plate. Matthew den Dekker, who’s name is familiar thanks to his home run robbing catch earlier in the week (seen below), would watch strike three while Mike Baxter would take his chances swinging even though he would come up empty. Ruben Tejada, seeing the Cards right hander for a second time, would also ground out to Descalso, though the Cardinals infielder had moved across the diamond to third base.
Wacha seemed dominant, at least on paper, but watching the young man pitch made it obvious that he was pitching smart. His fastball was in the lower 90’s, but it was also in the lower part of the strike zone. His changeup was pinpointed and seemed to keep guys off balance while his “third best pitch” as the Mets’ announcers pointed out, his breaking ball was sharp and kicked up dirt. He truly stepped on the mound to pitch, not throw, and it was clear by the outcome that he was successful.
Most impressive might have been his efficiency. Wright’s base hit was the only ball struck hard, and even that one was not crushed.
Fans have been hearing for some time now that this is a great farm system. Spring training gives them their first chance to see this first hand.
Michael Wacha is the future of the organization.
The future looks really, really good.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
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