When 2012 began, St. Louis Cardinals fans knew a bit about Trevor Rosenthal perhaps, but nationally, few had ever heard of a pitcher who spent all of 2011 with the Class-A Quad Cities River Bandits.
After an impressive spring training, it took the 22-year-old just 3 ½ months to make his major league debut. The right-hander then earned a prominent role in St. Louis’ bullpen in the post-season, likely cementing the end of his minor league days forever.
In between, Rosenthal nabbed the organizational Pitcher of the Month award for May, while pitching with Double-A Springfield. After his initial MLB debut, Rosenthal was re-assigned to Triple-A Memphis, where he made three starts before returning to St. Louis.
Along with Rosenthal, three other names on the above list are clearly worth noting. After a dreadful first half, Shelby Miller finished strongly, ironically with much of his late kick occurring while Rosenthal joined him with Memphis. Miller went on to make his major league debut in September.
Ryan Sherriff had an exceptional June, but slowed in July and August. While the left-hander pitched well enough to be named our top Palm Beach starter, his numbers don’t quite stack up with our two finalists.
The other starting pitching standout is Seth Maness. The right-hander began the season on a tear, earning both April Player of the Month awards punctuated by impeccable control. He soon moved up to Springfield, anchoring the rotation after Rosenthal left.
Both Maness and Rosenthal were two-time all-stars this season. Maness was named to the Florida State League mid-season game, but did not pitch there since he had already been promoted. Rosenthal was selected to the Texas League All-Star Game and both players were members of the Double-A league’s post-season all-star team.
Earlier, Maness was named The Cardinal Nation Springfield Pitcher of the Year, but Rosenthal did not take a team honor, likely because his 2012 was split across three levels of play.
Let’s look at the 2012 minor league stats of the two players, across each of their two levels.
While Maness had considerably more wins (14 in 27 starts versus eight in 20 starts for Rosenthal), the difference has to be a function of run support as indicated by the fact their ERAs are identical at 2.97 each. Maness was better at inducing ground balls and of course, has that incredibly low walk rate.
On the other hand, Rosenthal was much better at keeping the ball in the park, had a much higher strikeout rate and a considerably lower batting average against.
Despite Maness’ stingy walk rate, also considering Rosenthal’s fewer hits allowed translates to a comparable rate of baserunners allowed (as measured by WHIP – walks and hits per inning pitched) between the two pitchers.
My final measure is simple, yet admittedly subjective. If I had to choose one pitcher to take the mound in a big game, who would I pick?
Just as in the case of our 2012 Cardinals Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year, our choice as The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2012 did not win a corresponding team award.
That should take nothing away from Trevor Rosenthal’s considerable accomplishments. Congratulations to him for our system-wide recognition as the Cardinals top minor league starting pitcher in 2012. He almost certainly will not be in the mix again in 2013.
Note: Link to article with links to all articles about previous award winners across the system club by club, schedule for upcoming announcements as well as 2012 team recaps, much of it exclusively for The Cardinal Nation subscribers.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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