Rehabbers abound for Gulf Coast League Cards

Three rehabbing pitchers joined a top draft pick on the mound in Florida on Tuesday.

It was a memorable doubleheader game one on Tuesday for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals and for the St. Louis Cardinals organization in general. While previous rehabbers Brian Fuentes and Aaron Luna have moved on and up (see site hot news from Tuesday morning), two others have replaced them with the GCL club.

In fact, the first four pitchers to appear in the contest are playing at a lower level than their abilities indicate. Three are rehabbers with the fourth a top draft pick for whose workload has been managed carefully. They all pitched one inning Tuesday.

The 19th overall selection in the 2012 draft, Michael Wacha, started. He gave the ball to Boone Whiting, who yielded the rubber to Seth Blair. The fourth inning was thrown by Ryan Copeland.

Right-hander Whiting, 22, was making his official 2012 debut. It was a good one as he tossed a 1-2-3 second inning. The Cards' 18th-rounder in 2010 has been on the disabled list of A-Advanced Palm Beach after starring with Quad Cities' 2011 championship club. Whiting, our 28th-ranked Cardinals prospect coming into the season, had been sidelined since spring camp by a forearm flexor strain.

Blair
Blair, 23, also made his first mound appearance of 2012, facing four batters and allowing one hit. Like Whiting, Blair was with Quad Cities last season, where he made 21 starts. The right-hander, taken in the supplemental first round of the 2010 draft, injured the middle finger on his pitching hand before he could make his first start of the regular season and has been on Palm Beach's DL since.

Wednesday marked Copeland's second outing in his return from surgery to relieve Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The left-hander's outing was rougher, as the Astros tagged him with the loss. They scored three runs on four hits, including a home run. Like the other two Cardinals rehabbers, the 24-year-old has been on Palm Beach's DL the entire season to-date. You can read more about Copeland's journey here.

There is also news about Wacha. The former Texas A&M star will soon be promoted from the Gulf Coast League to a more appropriate level, the A-Advanced Florida State League.

However, the organization remains concerned about Wacha's heavy college workload this spring. Therefore, they will use him as a reliever for the remainder of this season before he returns to starting in 2013. His Palm Beach relief appearances will be scheduled each fifth day.

The 21-year-old threw a 1-2-3 inning on Wednesday. Overall in the GCL, Wacha has logged five one-run innings over three games, fanning seven and walking none.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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