ST. LOUIS (AP) - The St. Louis Cardinals will promote top pitching prospect Michael Wacha to start in his major league debut Thursday against the Kansas City Royals.
The Cardinals lead the major leagues with a 33-17 record despite numerous injuries on the pitching staff. They filled rotation holes with less celebrated rookies John Gast and Tyler Lyons earlier in the season amid speculation they didn't want to start the service time clock on the 21-year-old right-hander.
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Wacha was the Cardinals' first-round draft pick and the 19th overall selection last year out of Texas A&M. He's 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA that leads the Pacific Coast League in nine starts for Triple-A Memphis, holding opponents to a .187 batting average in his first pro season.
Wacha will be the eighth rookie pitcher to debut with the Cardinals this season. General manager John Mozeliak had cited Wacha's lack of professional experience in the decision to promote others earlier.