Sept.13, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn (31) during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Checking In With the Top Prospects: Lance Lynn

Coming in to the 2012 season, Lance Lynn was rated as the team’s number 13 prospect over at Fangraphs. Lynn was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the sixth round of the 2005 drafted, but chose to pitch at the University of Mississippi. He set the university’s single season and career strikeout numbers during his time there. He was named second team all-conference before being drafted by the Cardinals in first round of the 2008 draft. Lynn saw some time on the Cardinals low A and single A affiliated in 2008, but got his first taste of full season baseball in 2009. He started at high A but climbed all the way to AAA within his first full year in the organization. With spectacular results, he was named the organization’s pitcher of the year and climbed the prospect boards at just about every publication.

Lynn followed his stellar 2009 with a subpar 2010. He spent the entirety of the season starting at Memphis, but ended the season with a 4.77 ERA and a K/9 ratio under 8. The pitcher, whose bulldog mentality earned him comparisons to Chris Carpenter, started 2011 at AAA, but made his way onto the major league roster thanks to the team’s shoddy bullpen. Lynn pitched very well out of the bullpen and even earned the first save of his career at any level. Going into this season, Lynn was looked at as the top setup man to closer Jason Motte, but extenuating circumstances changed his role.

When news came out that Chris Carpenter would miss an undetermined amount of time thanks to a nerve injury, the battle to take his spot began. Lynn battled Kyle McClellan for the fifth spot in the rotation and ended up impressing management enough to earn the role. Lynn started the season phenomenally, winning his first six games, hurling a twelve strikeout game against the White Sox, and becoming the second pitcher to ten wins after R.A. Dickey. Lynn continued to pitch well, but started to break down in the second half. Fatigue definitely set in after pitching out of the pen in 2010 and not really being prepared to take on a full season of major league starts. He just rejoined the rotation after some time in the bullpen and looked pretty good in his first start against the Padres. The remainder of the season will tell the story on Lance Lynn, but it is doubtful he earns a rotation spot when or if the Cardinals make the playoffs.

Lance has a starter’s repertoire. He throws a four-seam fastball that reaches 95 mph, a 93 mph two-seamer, a 90 mph cutter, an 81 mph curve, and rarely thrown change-up that has a bit of sink to it. With a five pitch selection, he avoids being too predictable with his pitches. Lynn will almost certainly be off the top prospect list next season after spending a season and half with the team and becoming a lock to make the 2013 roster. The big question, though, is whether he returns to the rotation or is relegated to the bullpen.

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