Cardinals prospect Wacha to start Thursday

The St. Louis Cardinals will promote their first draft pick from last June, right-hander Michael Wacha.

The St. Louis Cardinals announced on Monday that they will promote rookie right-handed pitcher Michael Wacha from Triple-A Memphis to step into the rotation, replacing injured left-hander John Gast. The 21-year-old's first start will be on Thursday night, May 30, at Busch Stadium to close out the four-game away-and-hone set against the Kansas City Royals.

Wacha was the Cardinals #1 draft selection (19th player overall) last June from Texas A&M University. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Texarkana, Texas native is currently 4-0 with a Pacific Coast League-leading 2.05 ERA in nine starts for the Memphis Redbirds. Wacha has allowed just 35 hits in his 52.0 innings pitched this season for a .187 opponent's batting average. He was The Cardinal Nation's fourth-ranked prospect coming into the 2013 season and 94th overall in the top 300.

In a relief role following his signing last June, Wacha appeared at three levels (Gulf Coast League, Florida State League and Texas League) and posted a 0.86 ERA in 11 appearances (two starts) while striking out 40 batters in 21 innings pitched with only four walks. He also appeared in two games during the run to the Texas League championship by Double-A Springfield.

Assuming Michael Blazek pitches for St. Louis first, Wacha will become the eighth rookie pitcher to appear in game action for the Cardinals this season and the 10th pitcher age 25 or younger to do so. The Cardinals have received a Major League-leading 12 wins from rookie pitchers this season.

The Cardinals will announce corresponding player moves affecting both the 25-man and 40-man rosters prior to Wacha's start.

To see the Cardinals entire 40-man roster and all of the minor leaguers in the system, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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

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