TCN 2012 Cardinals Prospect #21: John Gast

The left-hander has moved quickly in a very short time and may soon be ready for Triple-A.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2011 and career stats)

2011 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
28 LHS 2/16/1989 6-2 190 L L 2010 6th

School: Florida State University

Selected 2011 stats

PB 5 4 3.95 13 12 0 82 85 40 7 28 59 1.43 0.272
SPR 4 4 4.08 13 13 0 79.1 80 42 9 33 54 1.32 0.266
Total 9 8 4.02 26 25 0 161 165 82 16 61 113 1.37 0.269

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (21): John Gast burst on the Cardinals prospect scene in the summer of 2010 after being a sixth round draft pick and posting impressive numbers (6-0, 1.54 ERA). That earned him a somewhat surprising invitation to the major league camp in spring training where he dazzled even the veterans with his poise and also with his strong pickoff move. He lasted very deep into camp (despite not posting overwhelming numbers) before being assigned to start 2011 at A-Advanced Palm Beach.

His performance at Palm Beach was solid though not spectacular but earned him a mid-season promotion to Springfield where he put up near similar numbers while pitching in a much tougher pitcher's league. One thing that could have the Cardinals pushing Gast quickly is a solid groundball rate combined with good control. Gast also had a solid lefty split last year which could make for a promising LOOGY and he strangely enough pitched much better with runners on base.

Gast could start at either Double-A Springfield or Triple-A Memphis next year depending on the needs of the organization. Following last year's strong showing, a spring training invite seems an almost certainty. The real mystery surrounding Gast will be whether the Cardinals switch him to the bullpen where he will have a much greater chance to contribute to the big club in the near term.

Message board community (20): Gast was the community's 20th-ranked prospect, a big jump from 37th last year. Among the members of the community, there were pretty strong differences of opinion about him. Gast received a vote as early as 14th, but others would not have had him as early as 20th.

Some think he will be a situational lefty, but others predict that he might end up a fifth starter. On the plus side, he is said to have an awesome pickoff move. I saw a report from a former member of our community that he was throwing 90-91 mph in spring last year, with other reports having him as high as 93.

Gast stuck around major league spring training camp late and moved very quickly since, reaching Springfield in just his first full year on the farm, skipping Quad Cities completely. That said, he was not particularly dominant at Springfield, walking 3.7 and fanning 6.1 per nine innings. His WHIP was 1.424. That dropped to 1.25 against lefties, with a 3.08 K/BB ratio.

Gast turns 23 in February. With the Cards' strength in starting pitching, I wonder if the aggressive push last year is to see if he can provide lefty bullpen help in St. Louis soon. As the two lefty relievers closest to the big leagues, Gast and Sam Freeman might be in something of a race to the top. Gast is 20 months younger. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (21): It feels funny to be writing about a pitcher again after six consecutive position players in this countdown. Who said the Cardinals system is pitching-heavy and position player-light? Oh yeah, I did!

When is the last time any Cardinals player was such a hit in spring training after just a partial season as a professional – including six outings in major league "A" games? It bears repeating that this fall, Gast completed his first full season as a professional.

I feel he made good progress in 2011. Despite Springfield numbers that were not overwhelming, Gast handled a heavy workload. There are those who felt that he had durability questions back to his 2008 Tommy John surgery. In 2010, he threw 106 1/3 between Florida State University (71 1/3 innings) and Batavia (35 innings). His 2011 workload ramped up substantially, 50 percent, to 161 1/3 innings between Palm Beach and Springfield. (In comparison, Springfield teammates Shelby Miller pitched 139 2/3 innings and Joe Kelly threw 132.)

From an offering perspective, Gast works his fastball in the low 90's and sports a hard swing-and-miss curveball. His changeup shows the potential of being a plus pitch, but isn't there yet. He gets high marks for his maturity.

That may be tested if he jumps another two levels in 2012. It wouldn't be the first time a Memphis starter moved into a relief role in St. Louis. But my concerns about J.C. Romero shouldn't cause me to get ahead of myself. Gast needs to keep proving his mettle as the going gets tougher.

Our 2012 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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