With super prospect, Michael Wacha, being scratched from his latest scheduled start for Triple-A Memphis, it appears imminent that he will be called up to fill the hole left by John Gast who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder injury.
The St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff has been severely decimated by injuries throughout this season, and yet, somehow, they are not in serious trouble just yet. This can be directly attributed to John Mozeliak’s commitment to developing the farm system, all-the-while resisting the urges to trade away one of the organization’s young arms to fill other team needs.
Mozeliak’s resistance has paid off immensely, and although it is probably earlier than they had wanted, it looks like it is now Michael Wacha’s turn to join the rotation.
Here is everything you need to know about the 6’6″ 21 year old right-hander from Texas A&M.
In 2012 in the lower levels of the minor leagues, he pitched in 11 games with 40 strikeouts in just 21 innings pitched. He also had a minuscule earned-run average (ERA) of just 0.86. The Cardinals did their best to put him in the right situations that year, though. Thus, they wanted to see how he performed in Spring Training 2013 before assigning too lofty of expectations to the young righty.
Well, he did not disappoint. He wowed everyone in spring–from the fans to the players to the coaching staff. Five-time Gold Glove catcher and team leader, Yadier Molina, said, “That guy right now could pitch in the big leagues. He’s got great stuff. He’s got a great presence on the mound.” However, due to great pitching depth to start the season, Wacha did not make the team and was sent to Triple-A Memphis to further develop his repertoire and gain much-needed professional experience.
It was the club’s intention to leave him down there till at least September or even next season, but with injuries to Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, and now John Gast, his time-table to the big leagues has been on fast-forward.
He has a solid repertoire of pitches and has the control and endurance needed to be a workhorse starter for the Cardinals. His fastball averages from 92-95 MPH, but he can amp it up to 97 MPH when absolutely necessary.
His changeup is outstanding–probably his best pitch. It has late movement that resembles a screwball that dives away from left-handed hitters and gets in on the hands of right-handed hitters. Even Jon Jay said he admires watching the late movement of his changeup when playing behind him in centerfield.
Over the off-season and throughout this season in Memphis, he has fine-tuned his 12 to 6 curveball to the point where he can keep it in the strike zone so that he can use it in any situation. One scout says it reminds him of Adam Wainwright’s curveball–which as we all know, is one of the best in the game.
Thus, only time will tell how Wacha fares in the big leagues, but it is looking like we will all get our first look on Thursday at 7:15 PM CST against the Royals. If things go as they have been so far in his professional career, I think Michael Wacha is up for the task.
Until next time…