ST. LOUIS -- After weeks of hearing his name swirl in trade rumors, Jack Flaherty opened 2018 still a member of the Cardinals' organization, and he represented St. Louis at Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program last week.He was one of 20 prospects from MLB Pipeline's current Top 100
ST. LOUIS -- After weeks of hearing his name swirl in trade rumors, Jack Flaherty opened 2018 still a member of the Cardinals' organization, and he represented St. Louis at Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program last week.
He was one of 20 prospects from MLB Pipeline's current Top 100 list to participate in the annual event, which includes seminars designed to help future big league players with off-field issues like media training and finances. Three other Cardinals prospects -- Jordan Hicks, Tyler O'Neill and Jose Adolis Garcia -- were in attendance, as well.
"I was definitely intrigued as to what exactly we were getting into," Flaherty said during his time in Leesburg, Va. "I think in the long run it's going to be a lot of help, even if I can just take away one thing from being here. I'm going to try and make it a successful trip out here."
Flaherty, whom MLB Pipeline ranks as St. Louis' No. 3 prospect and No. 48 in the game overall, hopes to do the same from his first stint in the Majors, which included six appearances (five starts) and plenty of time to observe.
"It was just a lot of watching and learning from the guys," Flaherty said. "When it came to pitching … I didn't do what I normally do well, which is get ahead, throw strikes, work off my fastball. In everything else, it was just a lot of watching and learning and seeing how these guys went about their business every day."
Flaherty climbed two levels in 2017 before finishing the year in St. Louis, where he went on to post a 6.33 ERA, strike out 20 and walk 10 over 21 1/3 innings. It wasn't exactly the first impression he had long imagined, as Flaherty labored to pitch deep into games and didn't come close to replicating the walk rate of 2.6 per nine innings he had averaged over four Minor League seasons.
However, the righty did feature an uptick in velocity from 2016-17, and his success in the Minors showed a fruitful course correction from struggles he endured the previous season. In 25 combined starts with Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis last year, Flaherty had a 2.18 ERA and averaged nearly one strikeout (147) per inning pitched (148 2/3).
"It was really getting back to doing what I do well," Flaherty said. "My walks went down. I felt like I was getting ahead more. For me to get back to what the basics were and what I do well, I think that really led to some of the changes and me having more success."
His ability to take the lessons learned from his month-long stint in the Majors will impact how Flaherty fits with the Cardinals in 2018. Though Luke Weaver will enter Spring Training with the inside track on securing the team's final open rotation spot, Flaherty can make that decision more complicated with a standout spring, or at least position himself as next in line should another rotation vacancy arise.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.