The higher a prospect rises throughout a system, the greater the anticipation builds toward their Major League debut. Jack Flaherty’s rise through the Cardinals Minor League System has caught the attention of not only scouts but fans alike throughout the game.
Flaherty joined the Cardinals organization in 2014 as the 34th overall pick in the first round out of Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. Harvard-Westlake is one of the top baseball programs in the nation, and has recently produced two other 1st round prospects Max Fried (ATL) and Lucas Giolito (CHW). Former Tigers OF Brennan Boesch also is a former alumni, as well as Jake and Maggie Gyllenhall, Jon Lovitz, and Jason and Jaron Collins (NBA). St. Louis gained this additional draft pick as compensation from the New York Yankees when they signed former Cardinals’ hitter Carlos Beltran.
The University of North Carolina had offered Flaherty a scholarship but the chance to play professional baseball for a living was too good to refuse. The $2 million signing bonus that was offered didn’t hurt things either but that opportunity is something that Flaherty doesn’t take for granted.
“I get to play baseball every day. This is what I’ve done my whole life. It started out as a game and just having fun but now I get to do it for a living. It’s a job but you always have to remind yourself that it’s still a lot of fun.”
Even for the casual observer, Flaherty appears to be having plenty of fun disposing minor league hitters. As a professional, Flaherty has pitched 361 2/3 IP with a 2.81 ERA, 1.197 WHIP, 362 K’s, and a 3.42 K/BB ratio. For fans that have never seen Flaherty pitch, I asked him to describe his pitching style to Cardinals Nation.
“I’m going to mix pitches, not going to overpower guys, but just try to keep the ball down in the zone. Work ahead in counts and just try to mix speeds on guys to keep them off balance.”
Flaherty isn’t a guy who solely relies on his fastball, but has the ability to get a strikeout when he needs one. The ability to get batters out with his secondary pitches is something he continues to perfect at AAA Memphis.
“I continue to work on my off speed pitches, gaining confidence to throw any pitch in any count with conviction. Throwing every pitch I have when I want to with conviction and a purpose is what I try to do every time I’m out there. If you’re throwing pitches just for the sake of it, you’re not going to get the results you want against that hitter or later in the game either.”
Every player has to make adjustments as they climb their way up through the Minor League System, and Flaherty has continued to successfully make those adjustments so far. The most recent example of his success was two starts ago at AAA Memphis against Las Vegas where Flaherty posted a line of 6 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 4 hits, 9 K, and 0 BB.
“You’ve gotta get guys out with pitches in the strike zone. Every level you go up, you’ve got to throw more strikes and work your off speed pitches more and more. The ability to throw off speed pitches in certain counts is key, so I don’t have to rely solely on my fastball.”
Video Highlights & Clips – MiLB | Redbirds’ Flaherty gets ninth punchout – Video | MiLB.com Multimedia | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball
7/21/17: Memphis’ Jack Flaherty strikes out Las Vegas’ Josh Rodriguez to cap a strong outing
Many fans believe now is the time to call-up Jack Flaherty, and there’s no doubt he has the potential to become a fixture on a big league roster for many seasons to come. That being said, he remains an attractive target that opposing General Managers covet in any trade discussion. John Mozeliak and Mike Girsch have some difficult decisions to make over the next few days that have the potential to not only shape this year’s roster but the make-up of future seasons as well.
Jack Flaherty appears to be very much part of their future plans and looks like he will earn a promotion in September. That might ruin Flaherty’s off-season plans of getting to spend time with his family and friends on the beach, but he probably won’t mind if that means playing the game he loves in front of the “Best Fans in Baseball” at Busch Stadium.