• Chris Lollis

St. Louis Cardinals: Ryan Helsley in 2019?

Ryan Helsley - photo credit (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

While some fans are calling for the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office to address the bullpen this off-season, and rightfully so, there may be an arm in waiting down in the minors that some of you haven’t heard of or know much about.

Ryan Helsley.

The 24 year old right-handed pitcher is one of few Native Americans to ever be selected in the MLB Draft. He is a member of the Cherokee Tribe, born in Tahlequah, OK and was a multi-sport athlete during his school days attending Sequoyah High School.

The Cardinals drafted Helsley in the 5th round (161st overall) of the 2015 MLB Draft. The Oklahoma native had just finished his sophomore season pitching for Northeastern State University where he posted a 14-8 record with a 4.06 ERA in 126.1 innings before getting drafted, and then signed with the organization. ($225,000)

After being drafted, he pitched the entire 2015 season in Johnson City for the Cardinals and in 11 games (9 starts) (40.1 IP), went 1-1 with a 2.01 ERA accumulating 35 K and a WHIP of 1.29.

He skipped playing for the Class A Short Season affiliate State College Spikes and started his 2016 season at Class A Peoria. Ryan was quickly getting noticed by going 10-2 with a 1.61 ERA in 17 starts. He ended that year with 109 strikeouts while only walking 19 in 95 innings pitched.

In 2017, he started the season at Palm Beach. After 16 starts he had a record of 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA and earned himself a promotion to AA Springfield. Helsley continued to impress in his 6-start-stint where he went 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA. He finished the 2017 season by getting one more promotion, this time to AAA Memphis where he made a start going 5 innings for the Redbirds in a no-decision.

Ryan was also named the Florida State League Pitcher of the Year.

His career minor numbers to this point, were a combined 22-6 with a 2.22 ERA which earned him an invite to 2018 Spring Training. Ryan pitched in 4 games (1 start), going 1-1, giving up 8 H, 5 R, 5 BB and 4 K.

2018, Helsley started the season back at Springfield where he went 3-2 with a 4.39 ERA in 7 starts. He got called up to Memphis yet again, going 2-1 with a 3.71 ERA before shoulder fatigue sidelined him in June. He rehabbed with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals as the season ended.

Ryan has a fastball that gets in the high 90’s and has pretty decent control of his curveball. His changeup/cutter needs some improvement, but as with any young arm, time, work & repetition are key.

Many believed 2018 would be the season that he would make his MLB debut. GM John Mozeliak mentioned both he and Jordan Hicks early on as pitchers to keep an eye on.

Will 2019 be the year we see Ryan Helsley in the majors for the St. Louis Cardinals?

Only time will tell.

Thanks for Reading

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