Sandy Alcantara, Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Marco Gonzales, Austin Gomber, Mike Mayers, Trey Nielsen, Daniel Poncedeleon, Arturo Reyes, Luke Weaver
The plus side of a 2016 season in which they lacked rotation depth and were forced to turn to inexperienced options is that the Cardinals now have a major surplus of starting depth heading into 2017. In addition to Trevor Rosenthal, Tyler Lyons, and Matt Bowman, who are expected to work as relievers heading into the season but could stretch out if necessary, the Cardinals should have quite a few potential big-league fill-ins in their Triple-A rotation.
Perhaps the most interesting battle among this group will be the one to determine the pecking order in the Triple-A rotation. If either Reyes or Wacha were to begin the season in the minors, they’d likely headline the Memphis rotation, but after that, it’ll be a battle among Gant, Gonzales, Mayers, Nielsen, Poncedeleon, Reyes, Weaver, and possibly even Gomber for the remaining spots.
While Weaver and Mayers both got starts in the majors last season, the former first-rounder Gonzales may be the first man up among the aforementioned group in 2017. He’s dealt with injuries for the past two years, but he was lights-out at every level in 2014 and could return to that level of performance this year after having Tommy John surgery last April. Gonzales, however, could also deliver tremendous value as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen–he held hitters to a .133 average out of the bullpen back in 2014–so if he ends up filling that role then the other guys could also be under consideration for potential rotation openings at the major-league level.
Perhaps the most interesting storyline to watch during this year’s spring training will be Sandy Alcantara’s first extended action in big-league camp. The 21-year-old with the flaming fastball broke through in full-season ball last season, and he’ll look to emerge as a big-time prospect in 2017.