(BaseballStL) -- The impression Michael Wacha makes on the Cards front office this spring will go a long way in determining not only where he starts the season, but how quickly he may or may not continue his rapid rise through the organization.
After getting drafted in the first round of the June 2012 draft, Wacha went to the Gulf Coast League where he gave up just one run in five innings in three games. It really was not a fair fight considering Wacha had pitched for a major university in Texas A&M.
Then, the Redbirds decided to have him stay in Jupiter but go straight to the High-A Palm Beach club. All Wacha did there was pitch eight nearly perfect innings over four appearances. Opponents in the Florida State league managed just one hit and one walk against him while striking out 16 times. For those keeping score at home, that is a .040 opponents batting average.
Wacha was so dominant; in fact, the Cards had to promote him to Springfield just to give him a challenge. In four appearances for the AA club, he went eight innings and gave up just one run on three hits—another outstanding job.
So where does Wacha begin the 2013 season? After getting a taste of AA-Springfield I highly doubt he would start any lower than that in his first full professional season. The likely scenario is him returning to that spot and pitching in the starting rotation there. Where he goes from Springfield is anyone’s guess. Today’s live bullpen session is the beginning of his opportunity to really impress the front office and show he can not only be worthy of a promotion to AAA-Memphis at some point but also - quite possibly - St. Louis in September.
Wacha has major league poise, presence and command already at such a young age (22) and has two outstanding pitches in his fastball and change-up. The biggest question surrounding him is whether he will be able to find a suitable third pitch. You only need two pitches to be a reliever but the Cards view Wacha as a starter, meaning he’ll need to add something else to his arsenal. Wednesday’s live bullpen session against the likes of David Freese, Adron Chambers, Ryan Jackson and Kolten Wong will give us a glimpse into where he is.