The short stints in big-league camp for Junior Fernandez and Jake Woodford have come to an end.
While top pitching prospects Junior Fernandez and Jake Woodford were originally set to attend the St. Louis Cardinals’ S.T.EP. (Spring Training Early Program) camp for minor-leaguers this spring, they were included among a group of pitchers (along with Mitch Harris and Corey Baker) that was summoned to major-league camp in mid-February after Alex Reyes was diagnosed with a torn UCL, Corey Littrell received a 50-game drug suspension, and Kendry Flores had his contract voided due to an injury.
Both players received an opportunity for exposure in front of the big-league staff that they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten this spring, but the fun has now come to an end for both pitchers. The Cardinals returned both Woodford and Fernandez to minor-league camp on Tuesday, where they’ll have an opportunity to get extended reps and prepare for minor-league spring games to begin in the coming weeks.
Both Woodford and Fernandez are highly-regarded prospects and should receive big-league opportunities at some point down the road. MLB Pipeline rates the 20-year-old Fernandez as the Cardinals’ No. 10 prospect, and he should become even more effective as he adds weight to his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame and continues developing a breaking pitch to complement his high-90s fastball.
Woodford, a first-rounder in 2015, is also just 20 years old and is rated as the Cardinals’ No. 17 prospect by MLB Pipeline. His fastball isn’t as imposing as that of Fernandez, but he’s displayed impressive command and a solid slider during his time in the Cardinals organization. With a sturdy 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame, he should be a durable back-of-the-rotation option in a few years if his progression continues.