Three months removed from being shipped to St. Louis as the main payment in one of the Braves’ many acquisitions of veteran pitching over the offseason, Cardinals right-hander John Gant has pieced together a flattering camp thus far.
In a December trade that sent seasoned lefty Jaime Garcia to the Atlanta Braves, the Cardinals brought in a trio players — Gant, Chris Ellis, and Luke Dykstra — to add depth and more importantly free up a starting rotation spot to accommodate some offseason shaping, including the return of Lance Lynn from Tommy John surgery.
Of the three, who I examined back after the trade, Gant is the closest to making an impact at the big-league level (he’s the only one with Major League experience of the trio). Gant, ranked as the organization’s 27th top prospect by MLB.com, may be even closer than it seems.
Across 20 games (seven starts) with the Braves last year, Gant accumulated 50 innings and boasted a 8.82 K/9 in his appearances with Atlanta. Between several trips to (and from) Gwinnett, Georgia, home of the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate and an oblique strain that cost him about two months, Gant apparently intrigued the Cardinals.
And if his spring work is indicative of such, it’s reasonable to claim that St. Louis is pretty interested.
In four appearances (two starts) this spring, Gant has allowed just one run (a solo home run) on three hits in addition to punching out six batters and surrendering zero walks over his eight innings of work to date.
Gant’s most recent outing — a start against his former club on Saturday, 3/11 — lasted for three innings, and the right-hander required only 31 pitches (22 strikes) to record nine outs that afternoon, as well as strike out three of his nine total batters faced.
Clearly a strike-thrower, Gant is sculpting an interesting case for a remaining bullpen spot. Even with Michael Wacha setting up for a starter’s role rather than a job in the relief department, the Cardinals still have several possible pieces to optimize the pitching staff’s success.
Although it may be a long shot with Sam Tuivailala, Miguel Socolovich, and others garnering more attention, the portfolio Gant has been sculpting this spring is pleasing.