Michael Wacha started turning heads last spring training. His arrival at the end of the season proved not only that he was ready for the big leagues, but also that he was almost untouchable.
Yadier Molina shared his thoughts on Wacha with Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com during spring training back in February:
I think that guy, right now, can pitch in the big leagues," Molina said of Wacha, the team's first-round selection from last year's First-Year Player Draft. "That's the way I look at it. He has great stuff. He has a great presence on the mound. He has great command, a great attitude.
Some believe that Wacha did not make the team out of spring training in 2013 in order to help limit his innings during his first full professional season. Others think that Wacha simply needed some more time in the minors. Either way, Wacha's arrival and dominance were stunning.
The ninth start of Wacha's big league career came on Sept. 24 against Washington in St. Louis. He threw 112 pitches before being pulled with one out left in the game after surrendering his first hit. He followed that up with an Oct. 7 appearance against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the playoffs where he lasted 7.1 innings and allowed only one hit before being lifted.
Wacha was the NLCS MVP for the Cardinals to virtually solidify his place in the rotation in 2014. He ranks first on this list despite pitching more than 50 innings in 2013, eliminating him from rookie consideration in 2014. Though he is not truly a rookie, his arrival to the team in 2014 will expose his true form. More than anyone else on the list, Wacha is major league-ready and most likely to be in St. Louis when the 2014 season begins.
* Wacha's statistics from Baseball-Reference
* An error stating that Wacha's rookie status was in tact was corrected. We regret originally reporting otherwise.