Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller, Card's Bullpen

                            Trevor Rosenthal

Trevor Rosenthal has been a fast mover in the Cardinals system since being drafted in the 21st round in 2009. Only 22 years old, Rosenthal was drafted after a year of community college. Rosenthal grew up a Cardinals fan, and is from Lee's Summit, Missouri. He throws in the high 90's, and drew raves from the coaching staff and Chris Carpenter during spring training. When Rosenthal makes his major league debut, he will be the 2,000 Cardinal player in Cardinals history, according to Derrick Gould. That is if you count the Cardinals days in the American Association in the 1880's. The club doesn't officially count that, and lists its first year in 1892, when the Cardinals joined the National League.

Rosenthal wasn't expected to pitch in the big leagues this year. He already skipped High A ball, going straight to Double A this year. Rosenthal has been a starter in the minor leagues, going 8-6, with a 2.78 ERA in 94 innings pitched. While his future is probably in the rotation, Rosenthal will work out of the bullpen for the Cardinals this year. That's the same way Dan Haren, Adam Wainwright, and Lance Lynn started out, and they all ended up in the rotation. Unfortunately, Haren had his success elsewhere, since he was dealt in the ill fated Mark Mulder deal.

Of the Cardinals big pitching prospects, Rosenthal was having the best year. He wasn't drafted high like Shelby Miller or Tyrell Jenkins, nor was he a big international signing like Carlos Martinez, but Rosenthal has made a name for himself. Rosenthal gets a lot of strikeouts(9.1 per 9 IP in his minor league career), but has the art of pitching down better than other prospects. For example. Miller is still learning how to use his secondary pitches, and has experienced his first struggles of his career. Hopefully, Miller will learn from his failures, and develop into the ace he is expected to be.

I think that Rosenthal should help out the Cardinals struggling bullpen. His pitches have more movement than a Maikel Cleto, and he has better command than a Eduardo Sanchez. If he can succeed, it would negate the need to trade prospects for a reliever. Barret Browning has done well in the lefty specialist role, and the Cardinals recently signed Brian Fuentes. The onus is on Marc Rzepczynski, Victor Marte, and Fernando Salas to improve.

The best case scenario would be for Rosenthal to provide a Lance Lynn like boost to this year's bullpen. Lynn helped shore up the bullpen late last season, and pitched well during the playoffs. Right now, Mitchell Boggs has been the only consistent member of the bullpen. Jason Motte has had some hickups, but he still has a respectable 2.93 ERA. The Cardinals have the 8th and 9th inning guys, so if Rosenthal could shore up the middle relief, we'll be in decent shape.

It will be interesting to see what the Cardinals do at the deadline. Do they make some major moves, or do they stay pat? Do they add a top starter, and move Joe Kelly to the bullpen? Or, do they trade for a couple of relievers? Maybe, a second baseman? There has been some talk about trading Shelby Miller, but I wouldn't move him unless you're getting something good in return. Miller is still only 21, and it would be a mistake to trade him for a rental.

Despite his struggles this year in Triple A, Miller was rated #8 prospect of all baseball prior to the season. While the Cardinals are loaded with pitching prospects, they shouldn't sell low on Miller. Tyrell Jenkins has struggled in High A ball, a level that Miller dominated. This year's first round pick, Michael Wacha, is the same age as Miller. Miller has been dominant at every level until this year. The Cardinals have instituted a no shake rule to get Miller to use his secondary pitches more. It will probably be good in the long run, because now Miller has to learn how to pitch, instead of just throwing hard.

                                 Shelby Miller

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