Palm Beach Cardinals 2012 Starter of the Year

Our top starter in the Cardinals' A-Advanced Florida State League rotation was left-hander Ryan Sherriff. Two others would have been serious candidates except for their promotions to Springfield.

2012 was to be the year of the right-handed pitcher, or so the Palm Beach Cardinals thought. After starting the season with five of six right-handers in the rotation, the Cardinals rotation was set to be led by one of their righties.

However, it was a sudden injury to right-handed starter Carlos Martinez that allowed a southpaw to steal the spotlight. On May 20th, Ryan Sherriff was called up from Extended Spring Training to make what was supposed to be a spot start for a suddenly-depleted Palm Beach rotation.

Well, the left-hander went on to impress immediately. He tossed seven innings, scattering seven hits and four runs, three earned, en route to picking up the win, his first above short-season Batavia. Sherriff was expected to return to Extended Spring Training after the start, but after his solid opening performance, he was retained on the team.

Sherriff made it an easy decision, as he reeled of four wins in a row. In four June starts, Sherriff went 3-0, allowing just six earned runs in 27.1 innings. His outstanding work in the month, earned him The Cardinal Nation/ Minor League Pitcher of the Month award as well as St. Louis Cardinals organizational Minor League Pitcher of the Month nod, as well.

Sherriff was brilliant, with his first loss of the season coming a full two months after his debut against the Lakeland Flying Tigers. That initial defeat did not slow down the 22-year-old, as he reeled of three more wins following the loss.

The southpaw finished his first full-season campaign with a 10-3 record and a 3.25 ERA. Sherriff logged 97 innings, striking out 57 and walking 20. The Cardinals' 28th-round pick in the 2011 draft limited Florida State League hitters to a .217 batting average. He tallied Palm Beach's most wins since 2010 despite missing nearly two months of action.

Honorable mentions

Sherriff was hands down The Cardinal Nation/ Palm Beach Cardinals Starting Pitcher of the Year, but there were some notable others who would have been in consideration had they remained longer with the club.

Right-hander Seth Maness and lefty Kevin Siegrist could have made strong cases, as both starters dominated the competition while in Palm Beach.

Maness was easily the best performer in his brief time in the Florida State League. In seven starts, the former 10th rounder went 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA. He tossed 46 innings, making six of seven quality starts and allowing 45 hits. Maness struck out 29 batters, while walking an eye-opening one, for a WHIP of 1.00. He was quickly promoted to Double-A Springfield.

Pitching from the other side, Siegrist may have been the most dominant starter in Palm Beach in 2012. The left-hander began the season in big league camp, but injuries slowed him down. After he received a clean bill of health, Siegrist made four impressive starts before he found himself back on the disabled list in June.

Returning in late June, the 23-year-old went on to go 6-0 with a 2.28 ERA. Siegrist pitched 55.1 innings, striking out 41 batters and walking 22. He limited hitters to a .173 batting average before being promoted to Springfield, as well.

Those two healthy arms would have made the conversation interesting, but their promotions and injuries did not allow for it, as Sherriff ran away with the award.

Link to master article with all 2012 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series.

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