Cabrera Promoted to St. Louis, Thomas Sent Down

photo: Genesis Cabrera (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Genesis Cabrera (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s game (Wednesday, May 29) in Philadelphia, that they have recalled rookie left-handed pitcher Génesis Cabrera (pronounced hen-e-sis) from Memphis (AAA) and optioned outfielder Lane Thomas to the triple-A Redbirds.

Cabrera, 22, will be making his Major League debut tonight and will become the 2,000th player to appear in a game for the Cardinals in their 128-year history as a member of the National League dating to 1892.

The Dominican-born Cabrera was 2-3 with a 6.35 ERA in nine games (7 starts) for Memphis this season, but has gone 6.0 innings in each of his past three starts, and allowed just four runs for a 3.00 ERA in his last two outings, the most recent a 4-2 win on May 21 at Nashville.

The 6-2, 190-pound Cabrera was acquired by the Cardinals last July 31 in a four-player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that sent outfielder Tommy Pham to Tampa Bay.   Cabrera earned All-Star selections in both 2018 (Southern League-AA) and 2016 (Midwest League-A), and he was named the 2018-19 Dominican Winter League Rookie of the Year.

Cabrera, who wears uniform no. 61, will become the first Cardinal to make his Major League debut as a starting pitcher since Daniel Ponce de Leon (7/23/18 at CIN) and the first lefty to do so since Tim Cooney (4/30/15 vs. PHI).  There have been just three past Cardinals pitchers to make their M.L. debuts in starts at Philadelphia: Al Olmsted (1980), Gordie Richardson (1964) and Mort Cooper (1938).  All three worked nine innings or more, including 9-1/3 innings by Olmsted in a 5-0 Cardinals win in 11 innings.

Brian Walton’s take

Lane Thomas (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The promotion of Cabrera, to assume the starting spot from which Michael Wacha was removed, was announced by manager Mike Shildt on Sunday. The decision, somewhat of a surprise, was made in part based on Cabrera’s recent success.

Other primary candidates, his Memphis rotation mates Ponce de Leon and Jake Woodford, have been good this season, but less so recently. Fellow lefty Austin Gomber seemed the most obvious selection, but remains on Memphis’ injured list. So, while this move may or may not work, it illustrates a willingness on the Cardinals to take some risk with a top talent, one who might not be fully ready.

Beyond the obvious benefit of being a left-hander, Cabrera sports an upper 90’s fastball, but the key to his success may lie in how much his complimentary pitches have improved. Cabrera is currently The Cardinal Nation’s ninth-ranked prospect.

Shildt was quoted as saying that this will not be a one-and-done opportunity for Cabrera – assuming he pitches well. Another rotation candidate, Alex Reyes, is still at high-A Palm Beach and has not yet been cleared to swing a bat – a necessary prerequisite to return.

Thomas, our no. 6 prospect, spent a week with St. Louis during his second period in the majors. The outfielder made just two appearances, one as an end-game defensive replacement and the other as a pinch-runner. The 23-year old will likely be back later, returning to center field duties for Memphis in the meantime.

It seems clear the Cardinals are more comfortable going with an eight-man bullpen and four reserve position players, which is the end result of these moves.

Both Thomas and Cabrera were added to the 40-man roster last November to protect them from the 2018 Rule 5 Draft, so no further changes are required there.

For more

To track the Cardinals’ 25- and 40-man rosters as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.

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