The strength of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system is its pitching, anyone with a decent understanding of the organization will tell you that. The club is going to have a couple loaded pitching staffs for 2017. With that said, the Memphis Redbirds may not be one of them, however they will have a couple of pitchers who could contribute at the major league level if needed.
In my last projection for the Memphis Redbirds, I will look at the pitching staff, both starters and relievers. There are so many possibilities for these spots, so I will rank them by the ones that I think are the safest bets. With minor league games starting this week, there will be player releases coming soon which could affect pitching staffs for the higher minor league teams.
Weaver may be the safest bet to start the season with the Memphis Redbirds. It appears that Michael Wacha will start the season with the big club in the rotation, leaving no other place for Weaver. Weaver will likely be the first call up if an injury were to occur.
In my opinion, Gant is a pretty safe bet to start the season in the starting rotation of the Memphis Redbirds. While he has pitched pretty well this spring, there doesn’t appear to be a spot for him at the major league level right now. Gant will be a solid Triple-A pitcher and will be ready for a call up when/if needed.
Ellis, who was traded with Gant for Jaime Garcia, also appears to be a strong candidiate for the Memphis Redbirds’ starting rotation. Ellis made 15 starts with the Braves’ Triple-A team in 2016 and will definitely not be going down a level. I suppose he could pitch out of the bullpen, but I don’t see that happening.
I feel like this is a safe pick, but Reyes could be the type of player that gets cut during spring training, however I don’t see that happening. This will be the third season Reyes has pitched for Memphis and with younger guys working their way up, it will be interesting to see what the Cards do with this veteran.
Now we start getting into tough calls for the remainder of the starting spots for Memphis. Gomber dominated at all levels (A+, AA, and AFL) last year, but he only made 4 starts at Double-A Springfield. I don’t think there is a doubt that Gomber is ready for Triple-A, the question will be if there is room for him.
Cardinals’ fans saw Mayers a little bit in 2016 and probably wish they didn’t, which is probably unfair to the pitcher. Mayers, along with Gant and Gonzales if he is ready, will be available to make a major league spot start if needed. Hopefully he can redeem himself if he gets the call.
Yes this would make seven and I don’t think Memphis will run a 7-man rotation. I am adding Gonzales to this list because if he is healthy, he is in the rotation. I am just not sure he will break camp with Memphis.
Other names that could be in play are Trey Nielsen, Daniel Poncedeleon, Matt Pearce, Andrew Morales, Corey Baker, and Jimmy Reed. See what I mean when I say there are too many arms for not enough spots?
This will be even trickier than guessing the starters, but here goes…
This appears to be the easiest selection to make. Tuivailala has pitched a couple of times in MLB camp this year and has shown control issues, which have plagued him in the past. I would not be surprised to see him get some MLB time this year, but look for him to be closing out games in Memphis.
This Cardinal newcomer will be a nice bullpen piece and has major league experience under his belt. In 2016, Phillips was with the Triple-A clubs of the Pirates and Orioles and also made a few major league appearances with the Pirates.
Sherriff has been with the Memphis Redbirds for parts of the last three years. He will be 27-years old soon. Time is running out for him to make a major league impact. I have been a Sherriff fan for a couple of years and I am pulling for him to get a promotion this year. He has definitely deserved it.
Harris looks to be healthy for 2017 and the former Navy man looks to return to the major leagues this season. Like a couple of the starters, this 31-year old reliever may be on his last leg within the organization.
Like Sherriff, this will be Heyer’s fourth season at Triple-A Memphis. This 26-year old has seen his ERA rise over the past couple of seasons. He could be a guy that goes between Memphis and Springfield, like he did last season.
Herget, who was drafted in the 39th round in the 2013 Draft, has slowly made his way through the Cards system. The 25-year old has had success at nearly every stop along the way. While, he hasn’t pitched in Memphis yet, I think he is ready.
I’ve only added 6 relievers because one of the starters listed above could start the season in the bullpen.
Once minor league games begin, I will get a better idea of where to place players. During the last week of spring training, I will be giving my official predictions for the minor league teams.
Thanks for reading!