St. Louis Cardinals: Early Spring Returns on Pitching

ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 21: Junior Fernandez #44 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the sixth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on August 21, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 21: Junior Fernandez #44 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the sixth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on August 21, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images) /
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JUPITER, FL – MARCH 3: The St. Louis Cardinals celebrate their win against Houston Astros during a spring training game at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 3, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. The Cardinals defeated the Astros 6-3. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL – MARCH 3: The St. Louis Cardinals celebrate their win against Houston Astros during a spring training game at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 3, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. The Cardinals defeated the Astros 6-3. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

Kodi Whitley

Whitley was a 27th-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2017. A starter in college, he has pitched almost exclusively out of the pen as a professional to great effect. Whitley pairs a dominant fastball with a dangerous slider and mixes in a mediocre changeup.

This mix of pitches profiles much better as a reliever, where Whitley has had great success. In 2019, he pitched to a 1.60 ERA over three minor league levels and 50 appearances. This includes a 1.52 ERA in 23.2 innings at AAA Memphis.

I always get excited when I see a pitching prospect tear it up at Memphis, due to the club being in the Pacific Coast League. Dakota Hudson, Jack Flaherty, and Luke Weaver are recent examples of prospects pitching well at AAA and coming up to an immediate Major League impact.

Whitley has also demonstrated good control in his professional career, walking only 19 in 67.1 innings in 2019, good for a 1.07 WHIP. He also struck out 78 in his 67.1 innings.

This spring, Whitley has impressed in his opportunities. He’s struck out six in 3.0 innings, while only walking one and allowing two hits. He has not allowed a run. If he keeps going and pitching like this, Whitley will make his major league debut sooner rather than later.