Yesterday, we looked back at how Carson Kelly, Harrison Bader, and Paul DeJong performed during the Arizona Fall League. Today, we’ll shift our focus to the four Cardinals pitchers who appeared in the exhibition season.
Without much of a dilemma, the Cardinals’ top pitching prospect on display in the AFL was 22-year-old lefty Austin Gomber, who dazzled during the regular season and continued the same success throughout the fall. Gomber logged an AFL-best 33 2/3 innings across seven games and starts as a member of the Glendale Desert Dogs’ pitching staff and posted a 2.14 earned run average in the league, limiting his opposition to eight earned runs on 26 total hits, or a collective .205 batting average.
During the regular season between the High-A and Double-A rungs of St. Louis’s organizational ladder, Gomber, who will turn 23 on Wednesday, made 21 starts, during which he managed 127 innings of work and recorded a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 33:12. All in all, Gomber is one of the Cardinals’ premier left-handed starting pitching prospects, and the 2016 campaign he sealed the deal on less than a week ago only adds to that narrative.
In 14 1/3 frames across nine AFL appearances, Corey Littrell was roughed up for seven earned runs; nevertheless, the left-handed Littrell’s upside in the AFL came by way of the punchout, as the 24-year-old whiffed eighteen batters to display a much higher strikeout rate than what we’ve become accustomed to.
Between the Double-A and Triple-A levels in 2016, Littrell found his way into 53 contests and accumulated 67 innings across those games, in which he fanned 63 to accompany a respectable 3.90 ERA and .234 batting average against.
Over ten innings of work in the AFL, Rowan Wick was tagged for five runs, all earned, allowed two home runs, and issued eight walks. Despite such, the regular season Wick strung together this year was nothing short of splendid.
Across 44 games between the High-A and Double-A levels, Wick hurled to a flattering 2.44 ERA and K/BB ratio of 57:20 and, of the 30 total hits he surrendered, only one left the yard, and that’s an impressive feat, considering that the Texas League and Pacific Coast League feature some of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in Minor League Baseball.
Ryan Sherriff, too, was a little shaky during his AFL stint, as the 26-year-old lefty was stamped with a 5.79 ERA in 9 1/3 frames this fall. Uncharacteristically, Sherriff issued seven walks in those 9 1/3, a much greater walk rate than the one he exemplified during the regular season, when he issued 23 walks over 66 2/3 innings.
Sherriff’s 2016 regular season, though, was very respectable. The left-handed hurler appeared in 49 games as a member of the Triple-A squad and allowed 21 earned runs in the span. And although he was considerably hit around -- he allowed 66 hits -- Sherriff managed to buckle down in pressure-heavy situations and ultimately owned an accumulative 2.89 come season’s end.
The Cardinals added Wick to their 40-man roster on Friday, November 18, to protect him from the impending Rule 5 draft. With Wick, Magneuris Sierra, Eliezer Alvarez, and Edmundo Sosa cracking the 40-man to avoid eligibility, Littrell and Sherriff are among several notable Cardinals farmhands who are left exposed and may be claimed by any team in the upcoming draft.