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Mozeliak impressed with top 2012 pick Wacha's development

7:36 AM, Feb 13, 2013   |    comments
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(KSDK Sports) --  When St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak sat watching a virtual sea of young power arms on Tuesday morning at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., he saw something different than the average person might have.

Among Jason Motte, Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha, you might be surprised which was on his radar.

"I will admit it was impressive. The gloves were poppin'," Mozeliak told KSDK. "I think the interesting thing was watching Wacha in that group, because I think we all knew what the other three were capable of doing."

With that said, he made it clear that 21-year-old righthander didn't pitch like a boy among men.

"When you saw Wacha, he looked like he fit right in and that's encouraging," Mozeliak said.

The Cardinals top draft pick in 2012 (19th overall), Wacha comes to the organization after pitching for three seasons at Texas A&M. His trip "through" the Cardinals organization might be a better way to put it.

Shortly after the draft, Wacha joined up with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals where he pitched in just three games before his first promotion. Over his first five innings of professional baseball, Wacha gave up one run on four hits with seven strikeouts.

From there he traveled to the High-A Palm Beach Cardinals four a brief four game stint where he gave up only one hit in eight innings. During those eight innings, he racked up another 16 strikeouts.

His third and final promotion in his first half-season of profession baseball sent him to the Double-A Springfield Cardinals for another four games. There he gave up only three more hits and one earned run over eight innings, and struck out 17 more batters.

Does that mean he will be headed to St. Louis in the near future?
"Boy, If you had asked me this question a year ago on [Trevor] Rosenthal, I would've said let him go to Double-A and see what he can do ," Mozeliak said with a laugh. "I'm probably going to say the same thing on Wacha, but lesson learned."

Wacha, who projects as a starter, has been in the bullpen since being signed. Given that his final college baseball game was the day before the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft, that likely had to do with resting his arm following a college season that began in February.

While there's a big difference in pitching in Double-A, and pitching in St. Louis, Mozeliak acknowledged that Wacha isn't far out.

"I will say that when I saw Wacha pitch last year, his two off speed pitches were major league ready then to go along with his 95-96 mile per hour fastball," Mozeliak said. "I think if he had to get an out, he's probably capable of doing it."

Currently, Wacha throws four pitches - both a two and a four-seam fastball, a change-up and he working on a curveball.

"I'm still working on the curveball-getting it sharper and throwing it harder," Wacha said Wednesday morning. "Hopefully it will come along this year."

With the success he's seen so far, Wacha feels good about his arsenal of pitches and where most of them stand right now. Mozeliak said that having such a level of pitching depth in the organization is obviously a luxury he's happy to have.

"As a [general manager], it's all about depth," he said. "If you have internal depth to protect you from whatever happens at the major league level and you can tap into that internally you're much better off."

As spring training continues in Jupiter, Fla. and pitchers get into their groove, the team will have a much better idea of just how deep they are.


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