The St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers completed the John Axford trade yesterday, the Brew Crew receiving right-hander Michael Blazek from their division competitors. Here is the take on Blazek, who already pitched an inning of relief yesterday in Milwaukee uniform.
Michael Blazek, RHP: Blazek was drafted by the Cardinals in the 37th round in 2007, from high school in Las Vegas, Nevada. Aside from a good year in the Midwest League in 2010 (2.71 ERA, 104/31 K/BB in 103 innings) he didn't do much to distinguish himself. That began to change when he converted to relief in 2012: although he posted a 4.16 ERA in Double-A, his velocity kicked up a notch with bullpen use, he fanned 83 in 80 innings, and earned a spot on the 40-man roster.
In 2013 Blazek posted a 1.97 ERA with a 52/26 K/BB in 46 innings between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis, collecting nine saves with just 28 hits allowed. He's pitched 11.1 innings in the majors this year, with an 11/10 K/BB, 10 hits allowed, and a 6.35 ERA.
Blazek is a 6-0, 210 pound right-hander born March 16, 1989. He threw in the 88-90 range as a starter, but in the bullpen he's been clocked as high as 97 and averages around 95. He mixes in a curveball and slider and an occasional remnant change-up from his days as a starter. Blazek posted consistently strong K/IP and H/IP marks in the minor leagues, reflecting the quality of his stuff, but his command remains erratic and has been troublesome in his major league trial so far.