St. Louis Cardinals Former Prospect Friday: John Gast


Every Friday, we’ll be looking back at a player who was at one point on MLB Pipeline’s list of top Cardinals prospects, but for some reason or another never made it to the major leagues. We’ll continue today with a lefty starter that advanced quickly through the Cardinals’ minor-league system and was ranked as high as third on the Cardinals’ top prospects list, but had his career ended by an injury.

John Gast

Ranked as the Cardinals’ #9 prospect in 2011 and 2012, #3 in 2013

John Gast is a bit different from other players that we’ll feature in this segment in that he did make it to the major leagues for a brief spell. Gast, a lanky lefty who was listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, was one of the Cardinals’ top prospects but ultimately ended up appearing in just three major-league games, so it’s safe to say that he didn’t live up to his billing.

Gast got off to a scorching start to his pro career in 2010, throwing for a 1.54 ERA in eight games at short-season Batavia after being drafted out of Florida State in the sixth round of that summer’s draft. He quickly moved up through the Cardinals’ system, and despite his numbers falling off a bit during his second professional season, he finished 2011 at Double-A.

He experienced similar results in 2012, dominating at Springfield over his first eight starts (1.93 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .211 opponent batting average) before moving up to Triple-A, where he got knocked around over the final 20 games of the season.

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Gast received another early-season promotion in 2013—the one that all minor-leaguers dream of getting—as he was called up to the big leagues on May 14 after throwing for a 1.16 ERA and pitching 32 consecutive scoreless innings. Filling in for an injured Jake Westbrook, Gast collected wins in his first two starts despite two rather performances. He allowed four earned runs on six hits and a walk over six innings in his debut against the Mets, then gave up two earned runs on four hits and two walks over five and a third on May 19 against Milwaukee.

Gast’s career was altered forever on May 25, though, when he was forced to exit after just one inning at Dodger Stadium after suffering shoulder soreness.

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The injury was eventually found to be a left shoulder tear, and he was forced to undergo surgery in July. In his absence, guys like

Michael Wacha


Tyler Lyons

stepped up as starter, and due to both the devastating nature of that type of injury and the anticipated year-long recovery, the Cardinals outrighted him and removed him from the 40-man roster at season’s end.

Gast got back on the mound in June of 2014, but he never regained his previous effectiveness at the Triple-A level. He’d throw for a 4.85 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and .244 opponent batting average in 12 games before being shut down in mid-August. After returning to serve as one of the anchors of Memphis’s rotation in 2015, he had a disastrous season, going 7-10 with a 5.03 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, and .309 opponent average in 24 starts.

Though he likely would have had a spot in Memphis’s rotation again to begin 2016, Gast decided to walk away from baseball on his own terms this January. As he told Rob Rains of STL Sports Page in January:

"“Physically I am healthy but I just wasn’t quite back to the same ability. After the surgery I pitched two seasons and had moderate success I would say, but it never really came back to me. I realized I didn’t have the same velocity and command or life on my pitches. It’s time to think about Plan B when you see yourself not at the same level.”"

Next: Former Prospect Friday: Jordan Swagerty

Gast, who majored in marketing at Florida State, is enjoying a very fulfilling post-baseball career. He’s now working as a coffee roaster for PT’s Coffee, a company based in Topeka, Kansas.