Tag Archive | "Trevor Rosenthal"

Should The Cardinals Go Holiday Shopping?

The baseball week will be dominated by the annual Winter Meetings, which bring together a marriage of front offices, agents, players and media types that usually is the base of operations for player movement and acquisitions for the year. However, unlike any other year, teams have been active in addressing their needs very early, with many clubs having already addressed the majority of their major needs.

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Among the top tier of teams, the Cardinals have perhaps most comprehensively addressed their major needs already. John Mozeliak has stated in multiple ways in the last month that he feels the team is nearly in Opening Day shape as is. However, is there more that they could stand to do to be ready for the spring? And would walking away from Orlando with a new Cardinal be in the best interest of security for the year to come?

The additions of Jhonny Peralta and Peter Bourjos decisively addressed the club’s clearest everyday issues, and subsequently provided depth via the parts in place as well. Also, the team elected to not resign any of its free agents, instead replacing them with the new additions and promotions within. When the decision to not tender John Axford a contract was made last week, Mozeliak stated that he did not anticipate the club adding another reliever, and that he “did not see where one would fit”.

This places the emphasis of the club’s pitching depth onto the internal options that guided it last year, which is a solid logic, and with the excess of starting options (which currently sits at a robust eight for the five man rotation), it is also one that is made from necessity. However, if last year proved anything, it is that the best laid plans can often not come to fruition as intended. The early season loss of Jason Motte rocked the balance of the bullpen, and steadying it took the better part of a quarter of the season. The team was fortunate in that so many of its minor league arms were ready to contribute immediately and in high leverage situations.

Yet, can lightning strike twice there? If there is any regression in year two, would having another veteran option could provide a smart investment. The return of Motte is seemingly assured from a calendar respect; however what his immediate effectiveness will be an unknown quantity. Likewise, despite a promising October run in the setup role, can Carlos Martinez maintain that throughout a full-year? And if he performs at a level that earns him a place in the starting rotation, what then? There could be an immediate need at the back end of the bullpen that does not have a clear answer, especially with the promotion of Trevor Rosenthal out of the eighth inning, where he had 29 holds in 2013, and into the closer role full time.

The great strength of the Cardinal organization is its young pitching depth. But there is still a place for a known quantity within the mix as well, similar to what Randy Choate represented a year ago. And with the free agent swap meet of the upcoming week pending, there could be plethora of mid-to-late game bullpen options that could provide that needed security in an exact role. Veterans in the mold of Matt Albers, Brandon Lyons or even Carlos Marmol represent likely low cost/short term security options that can come to Spring Training and to see where they could fit into the ever-evolving pitching scene. If they fit, they provide that needed backup, but if they don’t, the cutting the team’s losses is not a detrimental problem either.

At this point, the club is in finishing touches mode, which is encouraging. However, resting too exclusively on the laurels of a talented mix that still has more to prove exclusively could be questionable approach to take for a season where the next step for the franchise is so clearly defined.

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Cardinals Master Moment to Fight Another Day

Stopping the Boston momentum was the most important job the Cardinals had to do entering game two. And all things considered, there was no better man available to do the job than Michael Wacha. The rookie continued his sensational October run, but this time all the breaks did not fall to him, and finally the odds caught up.

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For the Cardinals, the early series stakes couldn’t be higher. Coming off a blowout where they lost in basically every facet of the game, against an energized club riding high on confidence and home crowd fuel, , there were not many factors on the Cardinal side—except for its young ace in the making.

Unlike the night before, when runs and miscues came in waves, game two was a much tighter affair. It was one defined by both an early pitching duel between the October veteran and the undeniable efforts of the rookie hurler

Throughout the team’s playoff run, Wacha’s flirtations with perfection have been the biggest story of the late year. Yet, while turning in sterling outings once after another, he has done so out of necessity, as the he has received only the necessities in regards to run support. Save for the two big inning outbreaks in game six of the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals bats had mustered just three runs of support for him, while he embarked on a club-record tying 19 consecutive innings of scoreless frames. The law of averages said that was due to change, and it was done so in a very sudden fashion on Thursday night.

After masterfully working through the potent Red Sox lineup for five innings, Wacha left one of his now signature change ups a bit too high, and David Ortiz used it to build a new floor on his own personal October legend, hammering it over the Green Monster for a two-run homer that humanized Wacha for the first time this fall. While Wacha’s night ended after six innings, the Cardinals hung into fight for a few more decisive rounds, and showed the type of fight that is only bred from being cornered.

On the other side of the field, John Lackey portrayed the role of grizzled veteran perfectly. While he was not as awe-inspiring as Wacha appeared at times, matched him take for take on the mound, in a style that should have come as no surprise. Eleven years after his initial rise to prominence as a member of the Anaheim Angels, where he won the decisive seventh game of his first World Series, Lackey turned in an effort that proved worthy of his pedigree, albeit one that did not stand up as well as his previous effort did.

While the big moment was oft in the demand, it became the small ones that defined the game. In the wake of Ortiz’s gargantuan tide-changing home run, the Cardinals rallied behind a series of plays, as well as fate, falling in their favor. After getting Lackey out of the game after a walk to David Freese and a Jon Jay single, they continued to roll with the jabs before delivering their knock out punches.

A gutsy double steal call put pinch runner Pete Kozma and Jay into scoring position and after a walk-by-inches to Daniel Descalso, Matt Carpenter delivered a sacrifice fly to left field scored Kozma, but then an errant throw home advanced Jay to third. It was then that the game one and two tables turned and misfortune swapped dugouts. Pitcher Craig Breslow, in an attempt to cut down Jay, threw the ball over third base which scored Jay and let Descalso make it around to third. It was then, in a nearly on-demand fashion, that Carlos Beltran delivered in the big moment, putting the Cardinals up 4-2, and lining them up for a 1-1 series tie with three home games to come.

Supported by the equally timely pitching of another two rookies in Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal, the game ultimately became the best possible win the club could ask for. Through a blend of all of the defining elements of their season: timely hits, overpowering rookie pitching and topped it off with gutsy execution, as well as a bit of the type of assistance they consistently supplied and buried themselves with the previous night.

It is the moment that reverbs the most in the playoffs; how a team both limits and capitalizes on them alike. While there is still much to be revealed regarding if they can enforce their will upon Boston to take and hold control of the series, a tough win on the road is always encouraging. Thursday was a both a proving ground evening for the club, in a fighter’s win.

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In Game 4, Mark One Down For Matheny

While wins go to the team and are created by the players, there are games where a manager can set a scene so precisely; they deserve a share of the victory as well. And Mike Matheny deserves credit for setting the scene for the Game 4 victory.

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It is easy for everybody to look good when a game is delivered like what Michael Wacha authored on the mound. Saying he made the most of his first postseason game would be a gross understatement, as he carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning and ran his total of no-hit innings in his last two starts up to 15.1. But unlike his first brush with perfection, this was not at home against a team that had just been eliminated from the postseason as the Nationals were. Rather, this was a game on the road in front of a crazed, 20-year postseason starved city of Pittsburgh that were urging their team on to close out the Cardinals in front of them.

But instead of feeling the pressure, Wacha fed on it and pitched the Cardinals back to another day in their season, having home field favor and into the hands of Adam Wainwright. Yet coming in, there was no shortage of second guessers on Wacha even taking the ball in the situation. It was seen as going against the grain, with his lack of starting experience and Shelby Miller being available as well, perhaps Wacha was not the guy.

But Matheny saw what he needed to in the 22 year old pitcher, from both a match up perspective, but more importantly, a makeup standpoint. It was that composure that won out in the end, and it has to be enhanced by the confidence that Matheny has shown in not only him, but the team in general. After his stuggles at the end of Game 4, the manager went to another of his rookie sensations in Carlos Martinez and let him know he was sticking with him in those same situations. Martinez responded by running up a big strikeout to end the eighth inning, quell a Pittsburgh uprising and deliver the game to Trevor Rosenthal with the slim lead intact.

The key to grooming a young pitching staff with the type of talent the Cardinals have isn’t just find room to utilize them. But inspiring them to be natural and trust in their talent to become the players they can be is the real task. In that lane, Matheny has already won the race for the season, as he has put much of the singular success of the season in the hands of his rookie arms. When there were grumblings to add a more experienced arm or to make safer (aka more experienced) moves on the mound, Matheny has stayed the path of letting talent win out, and has empowered them to not only be great prospects, but to be a part of carrying the Cardinals themselves.

Nothing more could inspire confidence than the victories in the situations that have faced the team down the stretch. Whether is giving Seth Maness the chance to be the double play magnet he is, sticking with Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly throughout their peaks and valleys or turning Rosenthal into a fearless relief machine, Matheny’s confidence has grown these 22, 23 and 24 year old group of players beyond just their age.

The kids (in years at least) are alright.

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In Pirates, Cardinals Face Path of Proven Resistance

There is no doubt about the task that lies ahead for the Cardinals in starting their playoff push with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The margin of a difference between the two teams was rarely much further apart than three games at any point in the season, and for much of it, it felt as if the Pirates owned the Cardinals head-to-head. The numbers are what the numbers are, and while the playoffs do reset the standings, they do not reset the match up; a series which has turned 10-9 in Pittsburgh’s favor thus far.

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However, the Cardinals have had their usual late season swerve since much of the damage that was done to them by Pittsburgh. They were an NL-best 19-8 in September, which included a three-game sweep over Pittsburgh in St. Louis early in the month. Over the past two seasons, the Cardinals have played at their best the later the season has drawn, with a 42-27 mark in the months of September and October, including the postseason. Experience is their ally, and could be their greatest asset over the next (at max) five games.

Despite this, it would be fair to say that the general sentiment that the Pirates could be the arrow in the Cardinals Achilles is fair. They hold two pitchers that have been dominant against the St. Louis lineup all year. Nobody has had more success versus the Cardinals than Francisco Liriano, who in three starts is undefeated and carries a ridiculous 0.75 ERA and .127 average against. He is in line for the Game 3 start on Sunday in Pittsburgh, where they Pirates have won seven of ten games against the Cardinals this year. Another asset on their side takes to the mound today, in AJ Burnett, who also has three wins to only one loss on the year in the matchup, and carried a no-hitter into the seventh against the team early in the year.

Pitching has been a strength for the Bucs, and it is an upper hand that will have to be overcome by the Cardinals, who are countering with a less certain staff, but some definite strengths as well. Adam Wainwright is setup to be the alpha and omega of the series, throwing game one and in line to toss the decisive game five as well. Yet, outside of their ace, the Cardinals are primed to leave nothing off the table in taking down their most persistent foe.

Having the league-leader in wins for the season taking to the mound is an obvious strength, but there it is what is to follow him that has been the most debated element, but could be a smokescreen to much bigger strategy. The decision to start Lance Lynn in game two was rightfully questioned by both fans and media alike. Lynn is the most mercurial of all the Cardinal arms, and despite pitching much better down the stretch, with the club winning three of his final five starts and him posting a 2.12 ERA two of the victories for himself. Yet, the Pirates have hit him well, to the tone of 30 hits in 27 innings and a 5.60 ERA. However, he still carries two victories against the club this season, which is second to only Joe Kelly’s three victories against Pittsburgh.

Yet, winning in swarms is the Cardinals approach this year offensively, and it appears Matheny is looking to spread this approach the mound as well early in the Division Series. He is going all in with his arms, as he has made the decision to put his now-proven arsenal of young arms on full availability out of the bullpen. Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha will both join the mix of Carlos Martinez, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal in the bullpen early in the series. With Kelly primed to start game three on Sunday in Pittsburgh, one will move to the rotation later, but both of the prized rookies will be available to go if needed before that crucial, but as of now if necessary, date.

This decision proves one thing clearly: the Cardinals are going all-in and sparing no part of its depth to do so. While the Pirates are the most formidable opponent the team could face, the Cardinals have reached the summit of entering as the National League’s best team over the past six months by holding nothing back. An approach they are appearing to be willing to go into overdrive to keep their year moving.

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What’s The Move For Mujica?

One of the most debated elements to the late season, and now postseason, is the status of Edward Mujica. After an amazingly efficient start to the season, one that saw him rise from setup man to All-Star closer, he lost his way late in the second half. And now, the arm that was tasked with the majority of the most clutch moments of the year, is struggling to find relevance among the pitching staff.

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The downturn in Mujica’s productivity has been a debated subject with no clear reason offered yet. With ideas that have ranged from workload fatigue, to compensating for an injury that he does not want to be public knowledge with free agency pending, the reasoning is not quite clear.

What is however is that the club has moved in a different direction regarding the ninth inning, where as it has been officially stated by Mike Matheny that the ninth inning will be handled by “committee”, it has been a committee of one thus far, consisting only of Trevor Rosenthal thus far. The move to Rosenthal, who has spent the majority of the season as setup man for Mujica looks to be permanent, as Matheny has struggled to find time to safely deploy his former closer. After seven days off the mound to rest, he returned to the hill for the final weekend of the regular season, in what was clearly a “dipping a toe in the pool” type of test to see what was there. But the results were far from encouraging, where in a third of an inning on Saturday, where he faced four batters; he surrendered three hits, including a home run and a long double to centerfield, before giving way to Randy Choate and ultimately Seth Maness, who closed out the victory.

This leaves the decision on what to do with Mujica in a precarious position. It is clear he is not the arm he was a few months ago, and the decline looks to have already fell over the cliff. His fastball has slowed some, and thus is not making his out pitch in his changeup nearly as effective. Also there is a loss off location, which is causing for the extreme rise in contact on him, with batters getting hits in 18 of 35 at-bats, good for a .541 average against during September. As a result, this saw him surrender as many runs in September as he did April-August, combined.

This loss in effectiveness certainly moves him away from the zero margin of error that is needed in an October bullpen. But the better question is what to do with him in regards to a role in the bullpen, overall. It is the personal relations portion that makes it difficult, as it has to do with keeping with the usual path of least resistance of Matheny. A norm in his approach has been a faith in his personnel despite downtrodden stretches, and dumping Mujica works against what has been established there. Mujica is not only a vital personally within the team’s dynamic, but has rightfully earned the right to continue to accompany the team. It would send a questionable message to the chemistry of the team to exclude him after what he has accomplished, regardless of recent struggles, with no clear injury declared.

With the expanded bullpen that one less starter brings, there will be quality arms to throw any bonus innings that may approach, thus also limiting the impact his continued struggles could have. But at the same time, there is no wasted role in October, and one spot being called on could be the difference between living and flaming out. If that player can’t be Mujica, and he bumps a Carlos Martinez or Sam Freeman, it could bite badly in the end.

Perhaps the answer that is easiest is to reset his role with the team, via lessening the leverage of the situations he is deployed in for the time being. He arrived in St. Louis with a similarly questionable role, and then excelled in the sixth and seventh innings as a bridge to the end of the games. Perhaps a return to an earlier role such as this is the best option for putting him to use as needed. While the presence of Maness, Kevin Siegrist and John Axford now lessens the load he would be tasked with, perhaps the return to what was first familiar is the first key to finding the spark that Chief so often lifted the team at in its most essential moments, at the most critical part of the year.

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Sorting Out the Cardinal Pitching Scene

The upcoming week is a crucial time span for the Cardinals as a team, but the starting pitching staff, it is also a chance to earn their keep. With the postseason looming, the team must make a decision about who it will have comprise its starting rotation, a decision that has become a crowded scene in recent weeks. Yet it could hold the balance of the season in the candidates that come from it.

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While it is far from certain that the team has a place in the series round of the postseason yet, assessing how it stacks up for one is an important element to the next few weeks of the season. It could shape who gets starts when and how the club will line up arms headed into the last series’ of the year.

The organization has what could prove to be a tough decision in assessing who is in line for the starts, if not for what each candidate brings, but what they haven’t. Outside of just rounding out the rotation, it also impacts the bullpen and how moves into an already deep mix there. After the absolutes in Adam Wainwright and the now undeniable Joe Kelly, the trio of Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller each offer not only a different dynamic, but also a unique set of conditions headed into the last few weeks of the season. And the time is already underway to show and prove for each.

In the case of Miller, he would seem to be the biggest shoe in, and he may very well be. However, it is worth noting that he has struggled with his motion as a result of a bad back over his last few starts. Much can be tied to reaching a new career-high in innings pitched each time out, which is something the team could chose to manage over the next few weeks. His previous high was in 2011, when he threw 139 innings between the High-A and Double-A levels.

Yet, as he sits at 149 innings currently, his effort at repeating his mechanics and finishing innings has been noticeably tough for him. Despite a very good seven inning, three hit victory over Atlanta on August 24, in his 14 starts since June 17th, he has managed to complete six innings only four times and has seen his walk-to-strikeout ratio fall by over 1.00 in the second half. Regardless, the 12-game winner will be a part of a postseason rotation, but it would not seem to be a far-fetched idea that the team limits his innings if at all possible.

Then there is Lance Lynn, who has once again struggled through a second half that has ranged from average to completely unimpressive. After his second consecutive first half of double digit victories, he has only managed to post a 2-6 record post the All-Star Break, with an ERA over 5.00.

It was this same type of effort that cost Lynn his spot in the rotation last September, and there have not been many outings that have inspired much confidence in his ongoing role in the rotation recently. Despite the fact that he did turn his year around late last season once he came from the bullpen, the decision to not add an outside arm at the trade deadline had much weight on Lynn being able to add that experienced third arm in the rotation down the stretch. Yet now, reeling off four consecutive losses currently, his start on Wednesday against Milwaukee could very well be his most important of the season for his ongoing direction with the team this season.

Then there is the youngest of the group, as well as the hottest hand, in Michael Wacha. In his second trip joining the ranks of starting pitcher, he has been markedly better. His control has improved, as well as his pitch execution and assortment and due to this, his success has matched his potential. In his two starts in the past week, he has thrown 13 scoreless innings against the Reds and Pirates, yielding only five hits total. Add in the four innings he threw in relief of Wainwright versus Cincinnati on August 28th, where struck out seven while walking one, and he has been the most lights out of any St. Louis arm over the previous two weeks. He presents an unknown quantity to many teams, which is an added bonus.

Yet with that said, the bright lights of October are a different beast, and there is the matter of workload for Wacha as well. He has thrown a total of 131 2013 innings thus far, the most he has thrown in his pro and collegiate career, and eventually fatigue could factor into him as well. He has electric stuff, and the decision to best utilize him could see a return to the bullpen and employing him in the same late-inning capacity Trevor Rosenthal was so successful deployed in a year ago.

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Revisiting the Cardinals Top 20 Prospects

Entering the season, the St. Louis Cardinals wealth of top notch prospects was the spotlight of all organizations in baseball. But the season has proven that depth, not names, is truly the strength of the system. Over the course of the season, the youth has been heavily leaned on at a record clip to help the team have the strong start it has enjoyed. Over the course of only half of the season, 13 rookies have made an appearance with the club, including six current pitchers on the St. Louis staff.

Taveras

All of this is considered, there is still plenty of talent yet to peak into the Major League level. Four of the top 100 prospects in all of baseball, as well as two of the premier rookies in the National League are among the ranks of the team. But there is also a replenishment of talent at the lower levels as well, to renew the process of creating new high tier prospects in the place of those getting to the ranks the Cardinals, and sticking.

With that said, here is an updated look at the youth of the Cardinal system, with both rookies and prospects combined to give a complete look at the emergence of the organization’s touted prospects, and the realities of them as players.

 

  1. Oscar Taveras (OF, Memphis): It says a lot about what Taveras’ ceiling is that he lands in front of the potential National League Rookie of the Year here still. It hasn’t been the smoothest of seasons for everybody’s top prospect. He’s missed 38 games with a bad ankle that hasn’t quite been able to heal itself. Yet, when he’s played, he’s taken to Triple-A with the same ease of attack that he did the rest of the minor leagues. He will make his second appearance in the MLB Futures Game during All-Star weekend, where he’ll headline the International team. He’s put up a .306/.341/.462 split performance thus far, with five home runs and 31 RBI. (ETA 2013)
  2. Shelby Miller (RHP, St. Louis): The aforementioned potential Rookie of the Year has delivered on promise, plus some. In his debut half as a starting pitcher, Miller has been the second best pitcher on the NL’s best staff. He’s won eight games, with an impressive 2.98 ERA. His power approach has carried over, has his 101 strikeouts have him in the top 10 in the league. He’s stayed consistently impactful, but he will likely be managed a bit more carefully in the second half, but a rookie wall doesn’t seem exactly eminent, but has hit an adjustment period as of late.
  3. Trevor Rosenthal (RHP, St. Louis): His loss in the race for the rotation out of the spring has been the bullpen’s gain all season. Rosenthal has been one of the best relievers in baseball early on, (stats). While his pedigree seems to be pushing him quicker towards the end of games than back towards the beginning, the organization’s preeminent power arm has as high of a roof as any rookie hurler in the NL.
  4. Kolten Wong (Second Base, Memphis): Wong will return to the Futures Game along with Tavares, and has continued to be the steady leadoff hitter that he’s projected to be for the big league club for years to come. He’s hit .316, and stolen 11 bases as well, along with six triples as well. The emergence of Matt Carpenter has complicated his assent some, but talent finds a way, and he remains the most natural middle infielder on at any level of the organization. (ETA 2014)
  5. Michael Wacha (RHP, Memphis): Wacha is the best prospect to have a cup of tea, followed by a return this season. He struggled some with location at the big league level, and needs to continue honing his breaking ball. But he is not far away at all, as his Triple A performance indicates. In 10 starts at Memphis, he is 4-1, with a 2.34 ERA.  (ETA, a 2013 return)
  6. Carlos Martinez (RHP, Memphis): Martinez got a late start, but has shown flashes of dominance in his quick season that has seen him go from Springfield rotation, to the St. Louis bullpen and back to the Memphis rotation. Overall, the 21-year-old has notched 52 strikeouts in 55 innings across the three levels. (ETA 2013 return)
  7. Tyrell Jenkins (RHP, Palm Beach): The rawest of the high ceiling prospect arms, the 20-year-old righty is continuing to round out his arsenal at the high-A level, and through two starts has retained his electric fastball while rebounding from season-ending shoulder surgery in 2012. (ETA, 2015)
  8. Matt Adams (1B, St. Louis): “Big City” has shown he’s got the stroke to make a big impact at the Major League level, hitting .320 with six home runs and seven doubles on the young season. Finding at-bats could continue to be an issue, but for now, he’s a crucial part of the St. Louis depth and attack.
  9. Seth Maness (RHP, St. Louis): The organization’s Pitcher of the Year from 2012 has become perhaps its most essential relief find of the season. His timely impact as a fireman to pitch the club out of tough spots has notched him four wins in a bit over a month. The double play machine (9 in 25 innings) has quickly become a key part of the bullpen mix.
  10. Marco Gonzales (LHP, First Round pick): The first of the two left handers the club took in the first round profiles similar to Wacha a year ago: polished college arm, which has a plus changeup and should be a fast riser. (ETA 2015)
  11. John Gast (LHP, St. Louis): Gast is currently on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, but was the first arm called up to replace the injured Jaime Garcia. Before his promotion, he posted a 1.17 ERA in seven starts at Memphis.
  12. James Ramsey (OF, Palm Beach): One of the more MLB-ready bats in the system, Ramsey is the most developed of a very good center field group the club is holding. After hitting .361 Palm Beach, he moved up to take over the Springfield centerfield, where he has increased his power output as well. (ETA 2014)
  13. Kevin Siegrist (LHP, St. Louis): One of the biggest revelations of the depth of the Cardinal system has been Siegrist, and his jump from Double A to the Cardinal pen. Since coming up, the hard throwing lefty has struck out nine, while surrendering only three hits in five games.
  14. Michael Blazek (RHP, St. Louis): Another quick riser, Blazek has been to St. Louis twice this summer; due to the 1.44 ERA he posted between Springfield and Memphis in 31 innings. He struck out 44 and surrendered only five runs as well.
  15. Jordan Swagerty (RHP, GCL Cardinals): The club’s second-round pick in 2011 missed all of last year with an elbow injury, but the returns have looked encouraging in his rehab returns at the rookie level in the Gulf Coast League. He’ll likely move up the ladder as high as Springfield before the end of the season. (ETA 2014)
  16. Carson Kelly (Third Baseman, Batavia): After hitting nine home runs as a 17-year-old first second round pick, Kelly has emerged as the club’s long-term project at third base. He has split his season between Peoria and low-A Batavia, but shows plenty of promise in his skill set still. (ETA 2016)
  17. Rob Kaminsky (LHP, First Round Pick): Small in stature (5’11), but big in results. The club’s second first round pick, and reward for Kyle Lohse’s departure posted an 8-0 record as a senior, with a 0.14 ERA. (ETA 2017)
  18. Tyler Lyons (LHP, Memphis): Lyons was surprisingly efficient in his chance in the rotation in St. Louis, during injuries to Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia opened up an opportunity. He struggled in his last few starts, and was returned to Memphis, where he promptly started a joint shutout in his return start. (ETA 2014)
  19. Seth Blair (RHP, Springfield): Blair hasn’t had great numbers this season (3-6, 5.01 ERA), but it’s more of a case of working through adjustments than not having what it takes. The 2010 first-round pick has what it takes to be mentioned among the other proven and more hyped names, he just has to miss more bats (.304 opponent batting average). (ETA 2015)
  20. Ryan Jackson (Shortstop, Memphis): Jackson continues to be a strong Triple A hitter, hitting a career-best .311 this season while contributing all around the infield. Yet, the consistent play of Pete Kozma has kept him sequestered in Memphis, yet he will likely get a chance to prove if his bat can carry over to Major again this summer. (ETA 2013)

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Cardinals Spring Training Pics From InsideSTL

Our friends over at InsideSTL spent last week hanging out at a picnic table, and eventually under a tent, in Jupiter, Florida and talking with any Cardinal players that came by and were willing to sit down for a few minutes.

What resulted were some great candid shots of the guys as well as a very candid interview with Adam Wainwright about his contract situation.

The images below were posted to their website and are being shared here with their permission.

Carlos Beltran

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Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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