Their top hurler taken was Michael Wacha - who like several others having pitched a long collegiate season - was innings- and role-limited by the Cardinals in his first partial season as a professional.
Yet, several promising young arms joined the organization this summer who became viable competitors for The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Rookie Starting Pitcher of the Year.
The third of our finalists went undrafted. Rookie-level Johnson City's Zach Petrick signed out of relatively-unknown University of Northwestern Ohio in June. But this award isn't about heritage or ultimate ceiling; it is about results at the level at which the organization assigned the hurler this season.
Petrick, a right-hander from Morris, Ill., turned 23 at the end of July. That is two years older than Cooney and O'Shea and he pitched one level lower. Yet Petrick's numbers cannot be ignored.
Petrick was the only one of the three to fan more than one batter per inning and most proficient at keeping the ball in the park. While his walk rate was highest, with O'Shea's superb, all of the three were decent in this area. Petrick's ERA was more than a run less than the other two hurlers – though at the lower level of competition.
A further look at the stats follows.
Cooney was best at inducing ground balls, with O'Shea more fly-ball prone. Petrick was the only one to hold opposing hitters to a batting average of .260 or less, at just .195, though his BABIP was low, indicating some good fortune, perhaps.
Taking fielding independent pitching (FIP) into account, O'Shea's relatively high ERA dropped a bit, while the other two's rose. Petrick remains a full run lower than O'Shea and about 2/3 of a run per nine innings better than Cooney. Talking all of this into consideration, I am calling this one in Petrick's favor.
Despite Zach Petrick not having been selected in the draft, his results on the field make him our choice as The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Minor League Rookie Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2012.
As to the future, who knows? The Cardinals have a non-drafted hurler from a tiny college on their 40-man roster today in Brandon Dickson - a player who also began his professional career at Johnson City. So anything could happen as the Cardinals further develop Petrick as a professional pitcher.
Note: This page has links to all articles about previous award winners across the system club by club, schedule for upcoming announcements as well as 2012 team recaps.
In addition, The Cardinal Nation subscribers can read much more about Petrick's 2012 accomplishments in the Johnson City Cardinals Starting Pitcher of the Year article, written by TCN Johnson City beat writer Katherine Fernandez.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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