Cardinals pitching prospect Michael Wacha making MLB debut Thursday

Chris Trotman

St. Louis will promote the young right-hander to close out the series against the Royals.

The St. Louis Cardinals will promote top pitching prospect Michael Wacha on Thursday to make his Major League debut against the Royals, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. The right-hander will start in place of the injured John Gast, who went on the disabled list over the weekend.

Wacha, 21, will be the second 2012 draft pick to make it to the big leagues when he takes the hill on Thursday. He will join fellow first-round pick Kevin Gausman, who got his first start for the Orioles last week.

Taken with the 19th overall pick out of Texas A&M, Wacha made his professional debut with the Cardinals' Rookie League ball club. He quickly made his way up the minor-league ladder, finally stopping in at Double-A for the final weeks of the season, and finishing the year with a microscopic 0.86 ERA in 21 frames across three levels.

Ranked No. 76 on Baseball America's top 100 prospects prior to 2013, Wacha threw 11⅔ shutout innings in big-league camp this spring, then settled in to the club's rotation at Triple-A for the season's first two months. The young right-hander owns a 2.05 ERA and 5.8 K/9 in 52⅔ innings over nine starts with Memphis. While his strikeout numbers are down, his ability to limit the home run ball -- and hits in general -- in the Pacific Coast League gives an insight into the talent Wacha possesses.

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