(Baseball StL) It happens almost every year. Someone comes in and just blows away the organization based on not only their play, but also the way they handle themselves.
Last year it was Trevor Rosenthal. He went back to AA-Springfield to begin the season, sure, but he quickly found his way to St. Louis - skipping AAA-Memphis entirely. The impression he made in spring training was a large part of getting such an opportunity.
It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen this season, but 2012 1st round pick Michael Wacha seems to be following that Rosenthal script closely.
In yesterday’s 12-4 win over the Mets at Port St. Lucie, Wacha tossed another three shutout innings (striking out five) which brings his spring total to five shutout innings while surrendering a single unearned run. He’s given up just two hits, walked no one and struck out eight.
Yadier Molina - who’s not known for sending any prospect to Cooperstown - bluntly stated afterwards “that guy right now can pitch in the big leagues”.
It’s not just because of his plus-plus change up or his fastball that’s got pinpoint accuracy. He handles himself like a big leaguer. He asks questions. He respects his elders. He knows his place (even if that won’t be his place for long).
Wacha’s going about things here the right way. And it’s going to get him to the major leagues sooner rather than later.
Sure, he’s behind Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal on the organizational depth chart at the moment largely because he doesn’t have the professional experience of those three. But that’s something he can make up very quickly if he keeps doing what he’s doing.
Logic insists that the Texas A&M alum will begin the season where he finished off last. Double-A. When, not if, he tears up the Texas League it’ll very awfully hard to keep him from Triple-A before the first half of the season is over.
Could he get a cameo in St. Louis before the year is up? Considering what Rosenthal did a year ago that’s not even close to unheard of. But the other thing that Wacha’s doing is putting himself in position for a rotation spot in 2014. Remember Jake Westbrook is not guaranteed anything beyond this year and Adam Wainwright is yet to sign an extension beyond 2013.
There may be an opening (or openings) to start.
Given the excitement of the organization - and the All Star catcher who knows pitching when he sees it - it shouldn’t be long before Michael Wacha is a stalwart in this starting rotation.