Cardinals Short-Season Minor League Rotations

Initial starting pitching plans for the St. Louis Cardinals short-season clubs vary by level. We have all the specifics!

With the beginning of short-season play for the St. Louis Cardinals' three US-based minor league affiliates this week, not only are rosters being set, but so are starting pitching plans.

Unlike the six-man rotation being used at several of the full-season clubs, the initial summer approach will vary by the team, level and perhaps most importantly, the readiness of the pitchers themselves to handle the workload.

A number of the new draftees have not been pitching regularly coming off their high school or college seasons. They will need time to ramp up their workload. Others may have already logged a heavy innings count in 2011 and the organization wants to use caution.

In fact, at Batavia of the New York-Penn League, initially the Cardinals will have a traditional five-man rotation of players that participated in extended spring training and in some cases, regular spring camp, too. In other words, they have been pitching under the watchful eyes of Cardinals coaches since the beginning of March or April.

(All pitchers are right-handed unless specifically noted. 2010 clubs are listed in parentheses.)

The Muckdogs rotation consists of left-handers Hector Hernandez (JC) and Pat Daugherty (JC) along with Drew Benes (JC relief), Jose Almarante (DSL) and Javier Avendano (GCL/Batavia).

At Johnson City of the Appalachian League, the Cardinals will open on Tuesday with a six-man rotation that includes one tandem pairing. They will lead with Tyrell Jenkins (JC) followed by Josh Lucas (GCL relief), lefty Ben Freeman (GCL), Eduardo Hiraldo (DSL relief), Jose Pasen (GCL) and an all-left-handed rookie piggyback of 18th-rounder Kyle Hald and 28th-rounder Ryan Sherriff.

The Gulf Coast League schedule is such that all clubs will have an off-day every fifth day. As such, a six-man rotation is not practical for the Cardinals. The five-man starting pitcher group will consist of seven pitchers – three soloists and two pairs of tandems. Five of them pitched in the rotations in the Dominican and Venezuelan Summer League in 2010.

The GCL Cards will get underway Tuesday using Arturo Toribio (DSL), Victor De Leon (DSL), Ramon Ulacio (VSL) and tandems with lefty Stalyn Lopez (DSL)/37th rounder Brad Watson and finally another all left-handed pairing of 39th rounder Tyler Melling and Dail Villanueva (VSL).

As always, to learn more about these pitchers and for links to their 2010 and career stats, just click on their highlighted names to be taken to the player profile pages. Look for initial GCL rosters to be posted on Tuesday, but the team rosters here at The Cardinal Nation should already be very, very close to the finals.

On Monday, look for a feature on a group of minor leaguers that may otherwise have fallen through the cracks.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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