St. Louis Cardinals: Hidden value in Sam Tuivailala

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Sam Tuivailala has one of (if not the most) electric arm in the entire St. Louis Cardinals organization. But, Tui seems to be on the outside looking in when it comes to having an impact in St. Louis this year.

Sam Tuivailala is one of thirteen St. Louis Cardinals pitchers who have yet to allow an earned run this spring. He’s very capable of reaching triple-digits on the radar gun, and from what he’s shown so far this year, his cutter and slider/curveball are developing very nicely.

I’m not sure if there’s another MLB club that Tui wouldn’t be a sure bet to make an Opening Day roster for. Yet, barring injuries, there isn’t any sort of a role in the St. Louis bullpen for this guy out of Spring Training.

Sure, Tui has had struggles with consistency and control to this point in his career. At 23-years-of-age, that can be a very understandable issue for a guy that was an outfielder and shortstop/third baseman for his first two years in the Cardinals organization.

Still, though, Tui could certainly be a setup man (if not a closer) for a number of MLB clubs in 2016. 100 MPH is 100 MPH, and that doesn’t come around all that often.

The fact that Tui figures to start 2016 in Memphis and spend the bulk of the season there speaks volumes to the bullpen depth in the Cardinals organization.

It would be foolish for the Cardinals to entertain any idea of moving Trevor Rosenthal out of his 9th-inning role, and we all know about the rest of the Cardinal bullpen.

With that, the team has to consider what kind of trade value an arm like Tuivailala could bring. Sure, he’s a great depth piece that could be worked into the St. Louis bullpen in years to come…

But, how long can St. Louis hold onto a guy like him, when he doesn’t seem to have any set future with the big club and when they could get so much in return by moving him to a different organization?

I like Tui. I like him a lot. He’s my favorite young arm in the Cardinal system. But I’m really having a tough time envisioning a meaningful role for him with the club in the near future.

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Tui can only throw so many Minor League innings before it stunts his progression as a pitcher. The next step for Tui is to face Major League hitters, and to do it for more than the 15 2/3 combined innings that he threw for the Cardinals in 2014 and 2015.

Somebody is going to have a big bat or an impact starting pitcher to move at the trade deadline. They are going to be looking for young, talented pitching. I’m not talking about Tui being a trade piece for the Brandon Moss‘ of the world. He can be a decisive piece for a superstar-type impact player that could help bring a World Series title to St. Louis.

If somebody like a Jonathan Broxton is ineffective this year or anybody in that bullpen goes down to injury, Tui could potentially plug in as an impact arm in the Cardinal pen. Only a couple of months of game action will determine what that scene looks like.

Tui seems to be a natural successor to Rosenthal at the end of games. But when would that be? Five years from now? Ten years?

It seems, more and more as we progress into 2016, that the Cardinals have no real place for Tui with the big club. 2016 would be the year to move him, assuming that all the other bullpen pieces fall into place correctly.

Next: Cards should stay away from rental shortstops

The Cards could just end up getting the big-time talent in return that propels them to a third World Series title in ten years.

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