Player: Michael Wacha
Bio: Another prospect, another Cardinal. Similar to fellow prospect, Shelby Miller, who I profiled earlier (MLB Young Guns: Shelby Miller), is from Texas. Again, he was also accepted to play at Texas A&M, but unlike Miller, elected to play college ball. In his final season, he put up some great numbers, pitching to a 2.06 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 16 starts. Given this, the Cards elected to take him as the 19th pick in the 2012 MLB Draft.
He advanced very quickly in 2012, from Rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League up to AA ball. In 22 games in the minors he gave up two runs, struck out 40, and walked four in 21 innings pitched. He was invited to camp this spring, but did not make the team and instead the 21-year-old was sent AAA Memphis. Here, his success continued, as he had 34 Ks, 15 BBs, 35 Hits, and a 2.05 ERA in 52.2 IP. Earlier this week he made his MLB debut against the Royals, where he pitched 7 innings, gave up no walks, two hits, and one run.
As a college basketball and baseball player, he his the athletic body type that fits the saber-metric mold. At 6’6 and 215 lbs with a fluid and repeatable pitching motion, Wacha has all of the makings of being your prototypical workhorse. Given that he is a fastball/change up guy, he produces an exceptional amount of grounders.
Fastball: Max Velocity: 97 Avg Velocity: 90-94 MPH
It is more straight then you would like, but it does have some downward action due to his delivery (explains the ground balls).
Off-Speed: Wacha’s change up is excellent, as it was rated the best one in his draft class. It normally various from 83-86, which makes a nice combination with his lower 90’s fastball.
He does feature both a curveball and slider, but as of right now they are considered below average pitches. They do compliment his primary pitches as a change of pace features.
Control: His control is what makes him the 24th ranked prospect according to Keith Law. Throughout his career he has had a very low amount of walks, especially in comparison to the amount of strikeouts he has averaged throughout his career.
Expectations: Every report that I have read has come to the conclusion that he is not expected to be a bonafide ace, nor even an ace. In fact most have him as a very strong 3rd starter with the ability to be a reliable 2.