Early-season injuries at Double-A for the St. Louis Cardinals have created opportunity for prospects to get a taste of the next level - even if in some cases, it may only be temporary.
One of the beneficiaries is new Springfield reliever Tyler Bray, who was promoted last Wednesday from High-A Palm Beach in the corresponding move to Jimmy Reed going on the disabled list.
Bray, who has an unorthodox sidearm delivery which leads to a 90-91 mph fastball, made his Texas League debut on Friday against the Arkansas Travelers. The 25-year old tossed three shutout innings in middle relief and followed three days later with another scoreless frame.
“It’s a testament to the Cardinals because they don’t care who you are,” Bray said of being an unknown prospect. “If you get outs and pitch well, you’ll move up. I have to give everything to them.”
The right-hander said his first official full season of professional baseball with Low-A Peoria in 2016 was about “believing in his stuff.” At Palm Beach to open this season, Bray logged a 3.18 ERA over five games and 5 2/3 innings. For the Beach Birds, he struck out 10 batters, walked only two, earned a win and converted his only save opportunity.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder employs mostly sinkers and sliders to hitters with fastballs early and sliders late in counts to act as his out pitch.
“I’m a groundball pitcher,” he said. “Anything I can do to try to get a groundball is what I’m trying to do with everything.”
So far, so good. Though his career ground- to fly-out ratio is a strong 2.85-to-1, in his initial four innings at Springfield, it is up to an amazing 7-to-1.
Bray hopes to refine his ability to retire left-handed batters with an improved changeup and better consistency with all three pitches in the zone for 2017.
Meanwhile, the goals of the Mississippi native are straightforward and concise.
“Just get outs,” Bray said. “Keep moving up.”
Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.
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