In sequencing the stories that make up this annual countdown, it seemed fitting to group together the three rookie right-handed starting pitchers of the 2012 St. Louis Cardinals.
To encapsulate the rapid ascent of the 22-year-old in 2012, consider this. In September 2011, Rosenthal was pitching for Class-A Quad Cities and was named the Top Pitcher of the Postseason as the River Bandits took the Midwest League title.
Fast forward a half-season. By July 2012, he was in the major leagues. A few months later, Rosenthal closed his year by making seven scoreless appearances in the National League playoffs.
It was nothing short of amazing.
Starting the season with Double-A Springfield, Rosenthal was the Cardinals organization’s Pitcher of the Month in May and was named a Texas League all-star in both the first and second halves of the season.
Following his initial, brief stint with St. Louis in July, Rosenthal made three starts for Triple-A Memphis before returning to the bigs in August. At The Cardinal Nation, we named Rosenthal our system-wide Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
He also experienced success with St. Louis. Rosenthal became a no-doubt addition to the Cardinals post-season roster after logging a 25:7 strikeout to walk ratio and a 2.78 ERA in his first 22 2/3 major league innings over 19 regular-season games in relief.
In the NLDS and NLCS, Rosenthal appeared in seven of the 12 games, but I found myself wondering more than once why manager Mike Matheny did not allow him to remain in longer.
All Rosenthal did was fan 15 of 30 hitters faced in a dominating stretch of October baseball. He held Washington and San Francisco to two singles and two walks over 8 2/3 scoreless innings. The only batters to collect a hit against him were Ryan Zimmerman and National League Most Valuable Player Buster Posey.
It is unclear whether Rosenthal will be allowed to compete for a rotation spot with the 2013 Cardinals. There are multiple alternatives and his bullpen success may actually work against him starting – in the short term, at least.
No matter where his considerable talents take him in the future, Rosenthal had a tremendous 2012.