Just over a year ago, the St. Louis Cardinals signed Austin Warner from the River City Rascals.
The Rascals are an independent team in O’Fallon, Missouri. Since leaving them, Austin Warner has been great. For details on the signing, you can click here. He would not be the first Frontier League pitcher to make it with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Warner is playing for the Springfield Cardinals, the team’s Double A affiliate. That is not going as well, with an ERA over 10 in his first three appearances, but that should turn around soon. Prior to his last three games, Warner was impressive with Palm Beach. In fact, he was even a Mid-Season All-Star this year.
Palm Beach Numbers
The thing that impressed most about Warner before he was called up was his control. He started 12 games and accumulated over 70 innings. During that time, he struck out over a batter an inning while walking a total of 13 batters. That includes a shutout, as well.
His performance was enough to earn him the call up to Double A, where he is finding struggles. But the 24 year old lefty is showing some ability on the mound. The biggest issue for him so far is walks. With Palm Beach, he walked 13, but with Springfield he has already surrendered 14 free passes in three outings.
Once he can reign in his control problems, his numbers will improve. That statement reaches beyond walks. Yes, he is walking a lot more, however he is also catching too much of the plate. Warner is averaging a homer an outing in Double A, after giving up only one prior to promotion.
Will He Turn It Around?
If he does not soon, Warner will find himself back in Palm Beach. Should he find his control again, which history says he will, then he will be just fine. It is unlikely that the former Frontier League arm becomes a starter at the top level, but he could be a relief option in the future.
If he does wind up as a starer, he will likely be a back end/spot starter. That does not speak to his ability as much as the starting pitching potential in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system. But, Independent League to MLB is always a great story.
Personally, I am always rooting for guys like this. Jason Simontacchi is an example of a success story. Warner being with Springfield means he is with Simontacchi, who knows what it takes to be successful in this situation. That gives Warner a great advantage.