Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Velocity Is a Key for Pitchers; Cardinals Focus on Power Arms to Build Up Their Farm System; MINOR LEAGUE INSIDER - BASEBALL INSIDERS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Velocity Is a Key for Pitchers; Cardinals Focus on Power Arms to Build Up Their Farm System; MINOR LEAGUE INSIDER - BASEBALL INSIDERS

Article excerpt

About six years ago, when he was a coach in the Cardinals' minor- league system, bullpen coach Dyar Miller sorted through the pitching prospects in the system by average velocity, looking for the total number that consistently hit 90 mph or better on their fastball. He found eight, at most.

If he did that same count today, he would find that many homegrown arms who have appeared on the big-league staff this season, all of whom throw 95 mph or harder.

A startling lack of power has become a striking reason for the system's improvement.

"It's a combination of they're drafting guys with better arms, that's No. 1 ... and then, No. 2, mechanics," Miller said. "I would say the poster boy is (Joe) Kelly. Look at him. He's small, but he's using his body to create velocity. ... He's a good example of what we've talked about developing in the system."

The major league debut this past week of Trevor Rosenthal, a righthander who vaulted from the Class AA rotation to the big- league bullpen, was a show of power for the Cardinals' system. Rosenthal hit 100 mph with a fastball in Milwaukee, joining Cardinals minor-leaguers Maikel Cleto and Carlos Martinez as pitchers in the system who have tickled the radar at that level.

Pitchers such as big-league starter Kelly, Class AAA reliever Eduardo Sanchez and Class AA reliever Jorge Rondon throw in the upper 90s, consistently reaching 96 mph. Recently converted shortstop Sam Tuivailala consistently has hit 97 mph in his first two pitching appearances. First-round pick Michael Wacha topped 95 mph in his first start for this club this month.

Miller redid his count last year and found more than 25 pitchers in the system who averaged at least 90 mph on their fastballs, he said. This season, 17 pitchers in the Cardinals' minors average 92 mph or better and touch 94 mph with their fastball, an official confirmed.

"We're drafting for that more, that's for sure," farm director John Vuch said. "And there are also the pitching principles we've adopted. …

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