St. Louis Cardinals MiLB Recap (4/5-4/7)

Feb 25, 2024; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Tink Hence (72)
Feb 25, 2024; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Tink Hence (72) / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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RHP Edwin Nunez (Double-A - Springfield Cardinals)

Edwin Nunez made his season debut on Sunday, pitching three innings of one-run ball. Nunez has pitched out of relief most of his professional career and enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2023. His walk rate improved from 18.4% in his first two seasons to 10.8% in 2023. Nunez, specifically, was far better at locating his fastball in the strike zone. I ranked Nunez as the Cardinals' 23rd-best prospect, and in my write-up of him, I mentioned that I envision him as a long-term relief pitcher. Despite drastically improving his walk rate, Nunez has poor control of his secondary pitches and struggles to repeat his delivery. Regardless, I'm glad the Cardinals are giving a high-upside, athletic pitcher like him a shot to stick as a starter. 

Nunez threw his fastball 64% of the time, averaging 97 mph and topping out at 99 mph twice. He controlled the pitch well, landing it for a strike 69% of the time. He generated a healthy 29.4% whiff rate on his heater but failed to record a whiff on any other pitch. Nunez's most used secondary offering was his changeup, which sat 87-88 mph. I think it can be an effective offering if he can find more feel for it in the strike zone. He also threw his high-spin, low-80s slurve four times (9%), one of which got drilled 106 mph by Tyler Locklear for a single.

Nunez gave up a healthy amount of loud aerial contact in his start. He allowed eight hard-hit (95 mph EV) batted ball events, and six also hit the sweet spot (8-32 degree launch angle). While it wasn't an elite performance by any means, I was encouraged by Nunez's first start overall and am looking forward to watching him grow as a starting pitching prospect.