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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

TCN Blog 2012 top story #15: Rosenthal’s rise

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.

I reserved the best for last – with Trevor Rosenthal following Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly.

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.

Link to The Cardinal Nation Blog’s top 20 stories of the year countdown

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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12 Responses to “TCN Blog 2012 top story #15: Rosenthal’s rise”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Rosenthal may illustrate things the Cards are doing well. He turned pro in summer 2009, after one year at a Kansas juco. Rosenthal relieved in the Gulf Coast League, The next year, 2010, the Cards sent him to Johnson City, but he only threw 30 innings. The Cards got him on a good path, but were not burdening him with innings. The quality of pitches is much more important than throwing
    Staying healthy has enabled Rosenthal to shoot up the system like a rocket, inside of two years.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Its impressive the Cards found a guy with as much upside as Rosenthal down in the 21st round of the draft. Normally guys who have this much velocity are going to be at high rounds, like Shelby Miller in round 1 and Kelly in round 3 from the same year group. Rosenthal must have gained velocity after turning pro, through coaching, or growth, or building strength. Right now, he constitutes a remarkable bargain. I cannot think of another guy with this much arm strength appearing at a bargain round.
      Jaime Garcia was found about round 22, but breaking pitches and sinker have been his tickets, not an overpowering fastball like Rosenthal’s.
      Following the 1960s, the Cards suffered a terrible drought in terms of signing and developing pitchers. Dan Haren was a rare find, squandered in a bad trade. Ankiel was a big time talent but things fell horribly apart after an impressive rookie year.
      Now with arrival Miller, Kelly, and Rosenthal, the Cards seem to have turned a corner, thanks to better scouting, better development practices in the minors, and some good luck.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      To consider a few examples of guys who advanced to the majors very rapidly.
      Pujols went from a Kansas City area juco to the Midwest League and the next year to the majors. One reason was an injury to Mark McGwire opened a gaping hole on the roster and we were desperate. The second reason was Albert had terrific plate coverage with a great swing, making him a historic player with a chance to overtake Bonds and Aaron.

      Molina was the kid brother of two ML catchers. He had advanced defensive skills, so we promoted him to fill a need and were willing to wait for his hitting to improve. He still took 3 or 4 years to reach the majors.

      Discounting time out for TJ surgery, Jaime Garcia only took about 2 years to reach the majors.

      Rosenthal took a season and a half at the rookie league level, but after that less than two years once he reached Quad Cities. This is very fast, but if Trevor has great quality pitches, it makes sense. There is no reason to spend years eating innings in the minors if you have major league quality pitches, as he does.
      We can protect Rosenthal by using him as a reliever, as we did with Wainwright in 2006. This can help him adjust to the majors, before asking him in future to shoulder the challenge of becoming a starting pitcher at the ML level.

      • blingboy says:

        Jumbo, you failed to mention one fast riser who out rose Rosey. Don’t feel bad, his bandwagon is less popular than Trevor’s.

        Back in June, 2009, Rosenthal signed on the 27th. The next day Joe Kelly signed. Less than 3 years later, on June 10 this year, Kelly made his debut, beating Rosenthal to the majors by just over a month.

        Once he got to the bigs, Mighty Joe contributed 107 innings. Slower moving Rosey pitched in for 22 innings. Maybe Trevor will overtake Joe this year, but so far, Kelly not only rose faster, but once getting here, his contribution was more meaningful.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          The main guy who I overlooked was Lance Lynn, 2008 supplemental first rounder who won 18 games during 2012. Lynn was a good decision by the Cards, a savvy college pitcher.

          Miller, Kelly, and Rosenthal were all 2009 draft. Kelly had 3 years of college play, Rosenthal just one, making Trevor’s rise from obscurity more surprising.

          The ascents of Lynn, Miller, Kelly, and Rosenthal have all been splendid.

  2. Bw52 says:

    I thought Bobby Bonillla`s injury opened the door for Albert.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Not really. Bobby Bonilla was washed. McGwire’s injury was the critical loss for the team and tipped TLR toward trying the impressive rookie. If McGwire had been healthy, the Cards could have sent Albert to AA or AAA for more training.

    • Brian Walton says:

      McGwire was in the lineup to start the 2001 season. After playing in seven games and batting .095, he was placed on the DL on April 16. By then, Albert was already on his way, hitting .429 with four home runs and 12 RBI.

      John Mabry had been traded to Florida on April 9 when Bonilla was activated.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        My outlook was shared with Jerry from Vegas. Jerry’s opinions are often sensible.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          McGwire was a monster for the Cards during 1998 and 1999. He injured a knee during 2000, playing only 89 games. He tried to return in 2001, but was still gimpy. This would have been the major reality facing the Cards, going into the 2001 season. The absence of McGwire would have dominated the team’s strategic thinking. At this time of great need, a great propsect arose in Pujols.

          For Bobby Bonilla, he was 38 and in what turned out to be his final season. His OPS was beneath 650 during less than 200 at bats. Bobby was not even the Ty Wigginton of the 2001 team.

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