MILWAUKEE – As they looked for a solution to fix their struggling bullpen, the Cardinals contemplated bringing up pitching prospect Trevor Rosenthal from Double-A Springfield for more than a month.
Sunday night, they finally pulled the trigger.
Rosenthal was summoned into the manager’s office after Double-A Springfield’s 8-6 victory Sunday night and told he had been promoted. Not to Triple-A, but straight to the big show.
“Complete shock,” Rosenthal said Monday in the visitor’s dugout at Miller Park. “But it’s something I’ve worked hard for and I’m really happy to be here and share this experience with the guys on this team.
“Throughout the season I’ve just tried to keep my nose to the ground and work hard. I didn’t really expect anything of this caliber but I’m definitely really happy to be here and I feel blessed to have the opportunity.”
FOXSportsMidwest.com first reported Rosenthal’s promotion late Sunday night.
The hard-thrower jumped up the prospect charts this year, posting a 2.78 ERA in 17 starts over 94 innings at Double-A. He features a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90’s and was fifth in the Texas League with 83 strikeouts.
Rosenthal, who allowed just 67 hits and held opponents to a .202 batting average, skips to Triple-A after skipping High-A Palm Beach coming out of Spring Training. The right-hander spent all of 2011 with Low-A Quad Cities.
“I’m excited for him,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. “He’s had a strong season so far and did a lot of positive things so he’s another powerful arm we can use and we’ll just get him in there when we can and see how he fits in.
“Early on we’re just going to find innings that look like they fit for him and not really hedge him into having to be one guy or another. Just get him out there, get his feet wet and see how he looks.”
The 22-year-old made a favorable impression during his time with the big league club in Spring Training, earning raved reviews from players and coaches alike. He’s begun throwing a cutter that he learned from Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia.
Rosenthal posted a 1.29 ERA in five spring appearances with the big league club, allowing just one earned run in seven innings. When the Cardinals needed a starter for their exhibition game in Springfield against the Double-A squad in early April, it was Rosenthal who was tabbed with the honor.
“That definitely had an impact,” Matheny said. “We put him in some positions with some intensity to just kind of see how he would handle it and he would make good pitches and continue to take advantage of the opportunities we gave him. That makes an impression.”
Said Rosenthal of his time with the big league club this spring, “That’s probably the biggest part of it, being able to come in the clubhouse and having a little bit of a relationship with most of the guys definitely makes me feel more comfortable being here.”
The Cardinals have been searching for bullpen help for several weeks. They’ve looked outside the organization, signing lefty reliever Brian Fuentes to a minor-league contract on Saturday. And they’ve looked inside, shuffling guys up and down from Triple-A for much of the past two months.
But they have yet to find the right combination, suffering a walkoff loss Saturday and another late-inning loss Sunday night in Cincinnati. So it’s Rosenthal who earned the next shot.
“Clearly we’re still developing roles and trying to have some things become more successful, but when you look at our internal options, we felt comfortable giving ‘Rosey’ a chance,” said general manager John Mozeliak.
Rosenthal, who threw six shutout innings Thursday night, was assigned uniform No. 64. He is available out of the bullpen immediately, but the Cardinals plan to try and ease him into a few less-pressure situations at first.
The right-hander said transitioning from the rotation into the bullpen shouldn’t be a big adjustment for him because he pitched out of the bullpen with Johnson City in 2010. He’ll be ready to pitch whenever and wherever he’s asked to.
Rosenthal’s parents, wife, brother and agent were among a large contingent traveling to Milwaukee Monday to be at Miller Park for his potential big league debut.
“It’s hard not to smile,” Rosenthal said. “This is a dream come true and definitely a huge blessing. I’m just happy to be here.”