The Cardinals will play their first game of the spring exhibition season today, and right-hander Jack Flaherty - one of the team’s top pitching prospects - will get the start. He is scheduled to pitch the first two innings of Friday’s game against the Marlins.
As it currently shapes up, the team’s starting pitching rotation to begin the regular season will feature Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright, Luke Weaver, and offseason-signee Miles Mikolas. With Mikolas needing to prove himself this spring, an impressive camp from Flaherty could definitely complicate the team’s decision.
Flaherty, rated second behind Alex Reyes on MLB Pipeline’s list for 2018, posted a 2.74 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A Memphis last season and a 1.42 ERA in 10 starts for Double-A Springfield. This led to Flaherty being honored as the Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Flying through the top levels of the farm system, Flaherty made his big-league debut in September against the Giants. Flaherty went on to pitch in six total games for St. Louis in 2017, including five starts. He did give up some runs (a 6.33 ERA in 21 1⁄3 frames), but Flaherty whiffed 20 and had a 47.6 groundball percentage.
Although a stellar spring slate would definitely put him even further in the mix, Flaherty does not have what Mikolas does: experience. Mikolas logged 324 2⁄3 innings while pitching for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan for the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons. During the span, Mikolas made 62 starts and had a collective 2.86 ERA.
Flaherty starting the 2018 season in the Minors would not be a negative thing for his development, either. He would be able to build upon what he learned during his brief time in the Majors last season and serve as the club’s go-to option shall they need rotation help down the road.
The video is credited to the official Major League Baseball YouTube channel.