St. Louis Cardinals: Hot & Cold Minor-League Pitchers


Now that we’re roughly six weeks into baseball season, we can make some legitimate judgements on players’ performance this season. Most starting pitchers have made seven or eight starts, and the relievers have reached double-digit appearances for the season. Though things certainly can and often do change, it’s now safe to say that a player is having a good or bad season. With that in mind, here are a few St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospects who have gotten off to either noticeably good or noticeably bad starts so far this season:

Starting Pitchers

  • Tim Cooney, LHP (Memphis) HOT- Despite a rocky beginning to his big-league career last month, Cooney has continued to be the ace of the Memphis rotation. The 24-year-old lefthander is 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and .210 opponent batting average. Though it’s a bit disappointing that he has just 26 strikeouts in 39 innings, he’s shown great command with just nine walks thus far. In his last start, he threw 7.2 scoreless innings while allowing just one hit. Cooney will need to figure out a better way to translate his success to the major-league level next time he gets a call-up, but he’s making a case for another chance with his current level of performance at Triple-A.
  • Alex Reyes, RHP (Palm Beach) HOT- Reyes, the Cardinals’ third-ranked prospect according to, has lived up to his prospect billing in his first season at High-A Palm Beach. The hard-throwing righthander has a 1.78 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, and a dominant .158 opponent batting average over seven starts spanning 35.1 innings. He apparently needs to work on his control a bit, as he has 20 walks thus far, but his 58 strikeouts are unbelievably encouraging. The Cardinals have no need to rush the 20-year-old Reyes, who is in just his second full professional season, but if he keeps mowing down hitters in the Florida State League, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him promoted to Double-A later this season.
  • Austin Gomber, LHP (Peoria) HOT- With an injury sidelining first-rounder Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals’ 2014 fourth-rounder, Austin Gomber, has taken over the responsibility of being the Chiefs’ ace. While the 21-year-old’s 2-3 record and 3.50 ERA don’t exactly pop, his 0.97 WHIP and .216 opponent average are much more impressive. He’s averaging a strikeout per inning—36 punch-outs over 36 frames—and his command has been solid, as he has just six walks thus far. As a college draftee, Gomber is a bit advanced for Low-A, but the lefty is at least putting himself on the prospect radar with his early-season performance.
  • Marco Gonzales, LHP (Memphis) COLD- Gonzales must be given a bit of a break because he’s been dealing with shoulder tightness that kept him off the mound for a few weeks, but his performance thus far during 2015 cannot be classified as anything other than unimpressive. Through five starts, he’s got a 7.66 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, and a .344 opponent batting average. He’s also allowed five homers in his first five starts. His command’s been solid, as he has six walks in 22.1 innings, but he clearly needs to make some adjustments to prevent hitters from making so much hard contact against him.
  • Mike Mayers, RHP (Springfield) COLD- Mayers, ranked as the Cardinals number 22 prospect by, has gotten off to a disastrous start in his second season at Double-A Springfield. Mayers had two fantastic starts over the season’s first six weeks, giving up no runs while allowing four hits and a walk in seven innings on April 21, then throwing a scoreless complete game while allowing four hits and three walks on May 2. In his five other starts, though, Mayers has been dreadful, and despite those two positive performances he currently possesses a 5.97 ERA, a 1.46 WHIP, and a .281 opponent batting average. His worst start was on May 7, where he allowed seven earned runs while giving up three home runs over six innings. Mayers was placed on the disabled list after his last start, so it should be interesting to see how much time he ends up missing.
  • Nick Petree, RHP (Springfield) COLD- Petree, the Cardinals’ 29th-ranked prospect according to, has struggled to adjust to Double-A after spending most of last season at High-A Palm Beach. The 24-year-old, who is pitching in his college ballpark as a Missouri State product, is 1-3 with a 4.63 ERA, which isn’t absolutely terrible. His 1.66 WHIP and .320 opponent batting average, however, are more concerning. Petree’s latest start was more encouraging, as he got the win while throwing six shutout innings, but one could conclude that he lucked into the decision, as he allowed six hits and two walks. He’s not striking many hitters out, as he has just 24 punchouts in 35 innings, and he needs to figure out how to miss more bats in order to cut down on the massive quantity of hits that he’s been allowing so far this season.

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Relief Pitchers:

  • Marcus Hatley, RHP (Memphis) HOT- Hatley, a minor-league journeyman who performed well in big-league spring training this year, has continued his strong showing through six weeks at Memphis. In 22 innings spread over 15 appearances, he has a 1.64 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and .195 opponent batting average. He’s allowed runs in just three of those appearances. Hatley may struggle to earn a promotion to the majors since he’s not on the 40-man roster, but if he keeps pitching like he is right now, he may be able to force the issue as the season goes on.
  • Chris Thomas, RHP (Springfield) HOT- Thomas, a former undrafted free agent who is in Double-A for the second season, has been one of the key members of the Redbirds’ bullpen thus far. He has a 2.45 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and a .220 opponent batting average with a 20-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 22 innings. He may not be a highly-regarded prospect, but Thomas is continuing to make a case to move up the ladder and should be able to earn himself a promotion to Memphis soon if he keeps pitching so well.
  • Josh Lucas, RHP (Palm Beach) HOT- Lucas, a tall and lanky righthander at 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds, has been absolutely dominant thus far in High-A. The former 21st-rounder, who is in the midst of his first year starting off with a full-season team, has a 0.42 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP, and a .228 opponent batting average over 21.1 innings. He’s got 21 strikeouts and four walks over that span. Lucas isn’t considered a big prospect by any means, but if he continues performing at this high level, he’ll have an opportunity to push himself up the organizational ladder.
  • Kyle Barraclough, RHP (Palm Beach/Springfield) HOT- Barraclough, a 2012 seventh-rounder, has already earned himself a promotion to Double-A this year with a dominant first six weeks. Throwing 15 innings over 11 appearances at High-A Palm Beach, he allowed just one earned run while giving up nine hits and striking out 23 batters. His nine walks were a bit concerning, but he found a way to prevent them from becoming runs. Barraclough made his first Double-A appearance on May 18, allowing a walk but no hits with two strikeouts in a scoreless one-inning debut. Barraclough, who reportedly throws in the low 90s, could be the next Cardinals relief prospect to soar through the system if he keeps pitching like he has so far this season.

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  • Kyle Grana, RHP (Peoria) HOT- Grana, a former undrafted free agent who is a product of Lafayette High School in St. Louis, has thrived in his first year of full-season ball. The big righty has yet to yield an earned run in 14 appearances spanning 14.2 innings, and he has a 1.16 WHIP and .192 opponent batting average with 24 strikeouts over that period. Grana has also been perfect in closer duties for the Chiefs, converting on all five of the save opportunities that he’s been given. The 24-year-old is overaged for Low-A and is fighting the odds as an undrafted player, but hopefully he’ll get the opportunity to move up to Palm Beach soon if he continues dominating the Midwest League as much as he has to this point.
  • Keith Butler, RHP (Memphis) COLD- Butler, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, has struggled mightily since returning to the mound. The veteran of 18 major-league games has a 7.88 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP, though he still has a very respectable .214 opponent batting average. He clearly needs to develop a more consistent approach, as he’s allowed runs in four of his eight relief appearances so far.
  • Nick Greenwood, LHP (Memphis) COLD- Greenwood, who was a solid contributor to the big-league club last year as a long reliever, has been absolutely atrocious so far at Memphis this year. Over 12 appearances, including three starts, Greenwood has a 9.26 ERA, a 1.93 WHIP, and a .388 opponent batting average. He’s allowed runs in nine of his 12 appearances thus far, though it must be noted that he did have a 4.2-inning scoreless outing on May 9. Though his walk numbers are by no means out of control, it’s pretty telling that Greenwood has more walks this season (seven) than he has strikeouts (six). He’ll need to step it up quickly if he wants to avoid being designated for assignment whenever the Cardinals need to open up a 40-man roster spot.

Next: Hot & Cold Cardinals Minor-League Hitters