JUPITER, Fla. — The Cardinals have unprecedented depth at starting pitching.
Considering who you speak with, there are 10 or 11 legitimate hurlers who could start for the Cardinals, with great trust, in 2019.
However, there's one young flameflower who no one is talking about, yet could be the Cardinals' big breakout star of 2019 -- Genesis Cabrera.
In his first year leading the team at Spring Training, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt has started a fun tradition of starting his daily media interview session with his "reliever of the day." But Thursday, his conversation quickly turned from the team's hottest reliever to one of the team's hottest, young starters few fans know of.
"He's going to be a guy we evaluate as we go and then we'll table him for later. But he's a guy we're definitely excited about watching," Shildt said.
Cabrera is a 22-year-old Dominican pitcher the Cardinals received in the trade package from the Rays for Tommy Pham last year. He throws hard and gets strikeouts.
Shildt hasn't seen Cabrera throw in a game yet, but he's one player he's anxious to see based on the hype he's heard about him during the off-season.
A lot of that hype spread like wildfire during winter league ball in the Dominican Republic after Cabrera posted 21 strikeouts in just 14 innings, posting a 1.26 ERA.
Here's what Shildt had to say about those eye-popping numbers on Thursday:
"They caught my attention. They caught our attention. Some people in the industry who I respect quite a bit, covering winter ball, texted me saying 'this guy is pretty good,'" Shildt said.
Cardinals President John Mozeliak also had some high praise for their new prospect last month at the team's Winter Warmup.
When asked which youngster may be the surprise breakout star of 2019, "Mo" didn't hesitate to mention Cabrera.
“If I had to guess, I might put it all on Cabrera,” Mozeliak said. “Power left-hand arm. Could be very exciting, and someone who makes a real contribution this year.”
It may be a little much to predict Cabrera could be the this year's Jack Flaherty, especially considering the depth of great talent vying for a starting rotation spot.
However, Cabrera has already been compared to Carlos Martinez. If he carries his ability over from this winter and into Memphis, it's only a matter of time before he's wearing a Cardinals uniform in St. Louis, and proving, yet again, that the Cardinals pitching depth is much to be envied across Major League Baseball.