The Cardinals announced this morning that right-hander Andre Pallante has made the Opening Day roster. They’ll need to make a corresponding 40-man roster move in the coming days to formally select the 23-year-old Pallante’s contract. Additionally, the Cards have formally placed right-hander Jack Flaherty on the 10-day injured list. It’s been known for some time now that Flaherty will miss the beginning of the season, and his absence figures to be a good bit longer than 10 days.
Pallante was the Cards fourth-round pick in 2019. The righty had pitched to a 2.59 ERA in three seasons at UC-Irvine, working out of the rotation for his final two campaigns with the Anteaters. While his fastball typically sat in the low-90s with UCI, he’s seen a velocity spike in pro ball. Baseball America wrote this winter that he averaged north of 95 MPH on his heater last season. BA also credited the 23-year-old with an above-average slider and named him the #16 prospect in the St. Louis organization.
Because of the canceled minor league campaign in 2020, last year marked Pallante’s first full season of professional game action. He spent the bulk of the year with Double-A Springfield, where he started 21 games and worked 94 1/3 innings. Pallante’s 19.4% strikeout percentage and 10% walk rate at that level aren’t especially exciting, but he induced grounders on nearly 60% of balls in play against him. That’s no doubt of appeal to a St. Louis front office that placed an emphasis on acquiring ground-ball specialists throughout the winter in an effort to maximize the effect of arguably the game’s top defensive infield.
Pallante will break camp with the big league club, presumably as a bullpen option. The Cards have a top four in the rotation of Adam Wainwright, Steven Matz, Dakota Hudson and Miles Mikolas with Flaherty out. Drew VerHagen appears to be the favorite for the fifth spot, with Aaron Brooks and Jake Woodford also seemingly ahead of Pallante on the rotation depth chart. Pallante only has two career Triple-A appearances under his belt, and it’s possible he’ll find himself back in the minors at some point. While the Cardinals will carry him on the Opening Day roster, he still has all three option years remaining and could bounce between St. Louis and Triple-A Memphis.
Flaherty recently underwent a platelet-rich plasma on an ailing throwing shoulder. His precise timetable for a return remains unclear, but he’ll surely need some time to progress through a throwing program and perhaps embark on a minor league rehab assignment. It’ll be the second consecutive season impacted by injury for Flaherty, who was limited to 17 outings by oblique and shoulder issues.