From a dugout perch at Hammons Field on Wednesday night, the Cardinals’ first round pick in the 2021 MLB draft studied St. Louis’ first round pick in 2014.

“Watching the way Jack goes about his business, it’s like a fighter pilot,” Springfield righthander Michael McGreevy said prior to Jack Flaherty’s final tune-up before he joins the playoff push in St. Louis next week.

“Just flatlined emotions; he does the little things right – he does every little detail. The last three times I’ve seen him start, he does the same exact thing, nothing changes.”

If Flaherty prepared like an aviator, then he pitched like an ace. The Cards’ Top Gun was firing from the start.

Flaherty punched out six of the first ten batters he faced and carried a shutout through six innings. He fanned nine over 6 2/3 innings, threw 102 pitches and showcased velocity, movement, and command St. Louis will need from him in October.

The Wind Surge touched Flaherty for three runs in the seventh, but his final deliveries still registered upper 90’s on the radar.

Flaherty left the mound animated and frustrated – but healthy and in-line for the victory, thanks to his battery mate Julio Rodriguez, who doubled and scored in the fifth and launched a three-run homer in the sixth.

Jack Flaherty pitches for the Springfield Cardinals on June 5th, 2022 at Hammons Field

Wichita rallied in the ninth inning to beat Springfield 5-4 and deny Flaherty his first win in four tries at Double-A this season.

Multiple rehab starts in the Ozarks are not what Flaherty or the Cardinals had in mind for the 2022 campaign, but there is a silver lining – at least for two of the organization’s prized pitching prospects.

McGreevy and Gordon Graceffo pay close attention when Flaherty is around.

“Coming in two weeks ago when he faced the Arkansas Travelers, he had already pitched against them (in June), already had in his head what he wanted to do to those hitters,” Graceffo said.

“Just seeing that kind of preparation for a rehab start is very eye-opening.”

Graceffo has dazzled in Springfield this season and climbed to No. 3 on the Cardinals’ top prospects list as ranked by MLB.com – behind teammates Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn. He struggled in August however and with Flaherty on hand during the previous homestand, Graceffo reached out for advice.

“I wanted to throw my slider better,” he said.  “It happened that Jack was with us that week and I talked to him a lot about the slider.

We kind of compared notes on all that stuff. I worked on it all that week, the next start it was a lot better and it’s just one of those things, little fine-tune things.”

Graceffo takes the bump against Wichita on Friday night.

McGreevy pitched five innings on Tuesday and took a no-decision in the Cardinals’ 7-6 win in the series opener. He struck out five and perfectly executed a pick-off play called from the dugout to end the fifth inning.

“We’ve been working on holding the ball a little bit more in the bullpen and mixing up timings,” McGreevy said. “The work is starting to show a little bit.”

DaShawn Keirsey reached base to open the inning and McGreevy threw over to check on him during each of the next two at-bats – both ended with fly outs. With two away and a 1-1 count on the batter, McGreevy stepped off and snapped a throw to first baseman Chandler Redmond.

Redmond chased Keirsey toward second base and flipped to Winn, who forced the runner to retreat toward first base where McGreevy was waiting.

“I’m glad Masyn was able to throw me the ball, he could have easily tagged him, but it was nice to let me tag him out.”

McGreevy posted a 3.09 ERA and 1.24 WHIP with 17 strikeouts in five August starts and the presence of Flaherty in the Springfield clubhouse has cemented his offseason aspirations.

“You look at guys like Jack that come in and rehab, those guys are extremely developed in terms of body and how they look – it’s like, that’s a grown man.

Getting to (age) 22 now, definitely want to start putting on more muscle mass and I think that will help for next year.”

 

 

Andy Carroll
Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll is a freelance sports writer living in the Ozarks with his wife and four great kids. He loves St. Louis, toasted ravioli and minor league baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @carroll_sgf and Instagram @andycarroll505