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.
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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.