As the Cardinals come down the home stretch of the pennant race, the invite new prospects to join the big club and make their case for a spot on the squad.
It’s officially September, which means that as the pennant chase starts to narrow down, clubs expand their rosters from 25 to 40. As part of this expansion, young prospects get the chance to make an impression at the big league level, and perhaps even make their case of appearing on a potential Playoff roster. As of September 2nd, the Cardinals have made 5 call-ups. Let’s meet them.
Flaherty, a 6-4, 225 pound right hand hurler, made his big league debut Friday in San Fransisco, where he four innings allowing five runs and eight hits in a no decision that would result in an 11-6 Cardinal win.
Flaherty was the Cardinals’ first round pick in 2014, and over four seasons in the minors, he has climbed his way all the way from Rookie ball to Triple-A. Over 400 innings pitch in Minor League ball, Flaherty pitched to the tune of a 2.77 ERA.
In 2017, in AA and AAA, Flaherty posted a phenomenal 2.18 ERA mark, with 147 strikeouts and just 35 walks. With just a 1.04 WHIP over 150 innings this season, not only does Flaherty not give up runs, but he keeps runners off base. This efficiency pushed the right hander to a 14-4 record, going 7-2 at both AA and AAA.
Flaherty was the fourth player to make his MLB debut for the Cardinals this season. Despite a rocky outing in his first MLB start, the Cards have high hopes for the youngster, and rightfully so.
A 6-5, 185 pound 21-year old from San Juan in the Dominican Republic, this right hander was signed as an international free agent in July of 2013 at the age of 17. Since playing his first game in the Dominican Summer League in 2014, Alcantara has moved all the way up to Double-A over the past 3 seasons.
Despite being just 17-29 in his Minor League career, the Dominican right hander has gone 7-5 in 2017 for AA Springfield. With a 4.60 ERA in 2017, and a career 4.56 mark through just under 370 innings pitched, Alcantara has been adequate at best in the minor leagues.
But nonetheless, he will be getting a chance this September to impress at the big league level. Hopefully the Cards will catch lightning in a bottle with Sandy Alcantara, and he will bring a somewhat unexpected spark to the club over the next month.
Alberto Rosario is a 30 year old infielder who has 20 games of experience at the big league level with the Cardinals. Over this span, which came last season, Rosario hit .184 in 38 at-bats, racking up just two RBI and scoring three runs in his short stint with the big club.
In a Minor League career that began in 2006 when Rosario was just 19 and playing for an Angels’ Dominican Summer League affiliate, Rosario has hit just .239 in over 2,300 at bats. With sub-par average numbers, Rosario as well brings little to the table power wise, hitting just 14 homers in 12 seasons, knocking in 233 runs over that span.
In 2017 with AAA Memphis, Rosario was hitting .247 in 190 at-bats with 23 RBI and no home runs. Again, no eye popping numbers from Rosario. Hopefully, however, he can make good on his second Big League opportunity this September.
After a short, ten game stint with the big club earlier this year, the middle infielder Mejia was quickly sent back down to Triple-A Memphis. In 14 at bats with the Cardinals, Mejia collected three hits, including a home run.
Over a five year Minor League career which began in 2012 in Single-A short season Batavia, Mejia has posted a .263 average with a respectable .309 OBP. However, Mejia as noticeably lacked in the productivity department, slugging just .352 and knocking in only 204 runs with 19 homers in almost 2,000 career minor league at bats.
Mejia’s defense doesn’t exactly make up for his lack of production on the offensive side. Over five seasons, at his most played position short stop, Mejia has just a .963 fielding percentage in over 3,600 innings. While short stop is often considered one of, if not the most difficult defensive position on the diamond, this is certainly not a great number, especially for a player who doesn’t wow anyone at the plate.
However, Mejia is still young, and has the opportunity to turn things around quickly, as his professional career is just getting started.
Bader is perhaps the prospect that the Cardinals, and their fans, are most excited about in the organization. The 23 year old made a short, 7 game stint with the Cardinals in July this season, during which he had 8 hits in 25 at-bats, hitting a home run and knocking in two runs before being sent back down to Triple-A Memphis.
In just over 1,250 minor league at-bats, Bader is batting .282 with 50 homers and almost 150 RBI-not a bad resume for a young prospect who has already made his way from low-A ball to triple A in less than two full seasons.
Bader is also an exceptional fielder, making just 9 errors in almost 700 chances in his Minor League career thus far. Overall, there is a lot to be excited about with this young outfielder, and this September call up could be the true start of a great Cardinal career for this young man.
Because of all the injuries and under-performers of the Cardinals’ 2017 season, the Red Birds have been forced to already make a multitude of call ups this year. Thus, their lot of fresh September call ups is maybe not as rich as in former years, because the best their farm system has to offer, is already at the big league level.
No matter, hopefully a player or two can step up and perform, either from this initial group of five, or from a later set of call ups to come in the further into the month. That is the hope, even if it is not necessarily the expectation.