Feb 29 2012, Jupiter, FL, USA: St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Maikel Cleto (63) during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE.

St. Louis Cardinals option Maikel Cleto

In order to make room for Skip Schumaker on the active roster, the St. Louis Cardinals have demoted right-handed reliever Maikel Cleto to Triple-A Memphis. He was poor in limited action for the Cards (five innings) with a 5.40 ERA and 2.00 WHIP highlighting his struggles. Cleto has terrific fastball velocity, as his FB gets up into the high 90’s, but Cleto is too raw to be an MLB pitcher at this point, as he struggles mightily with his control. He is best off staying in the minors for some time to refine his game, but he has the raw ability to be a quality arm out of the bullpen at least.

Maikel Cleto yields way for Schumaker, who was activated from the 15-day DL and will be ready for some action on Friday when the St. Louis Cardinals take on the Detroit Tigers in an interleague game between both “Central” teams in a 2006 World Series rematch. The 2B/CF has great versatility for the team and has done an excellent job getting on base for the Cardinals with a .378 OBP; that’s all you can ask for.

Last season, Schumaker was worth just 0.6 WAR and has not enjoyed a successful season since 2009. He is on pace for a similar year to 2011 due to a lucky .377 BABIP that skews his much improved 121 wRC+. Still, Schumaker is doing better than he was expected to and has increased his offensive numbers across the board.

In the first paragraph, I referenced Cleto’s ERA and WHIP numbers, but those statistics are misleading towards the young right-hander. Five innings is basically nothing, and Cleto had a .500 BABIP in that time with off-the-charts peripherals. Maikel Cleto has terrific velocity despite erratic control and can blossom in the bullpen with his fastball that can touch 100.

In 26 minor league innings this season, Cleto has racked up an impressive 11.77 K/9 and has improved his control to a lower 3.12 BB/9. He has been a little bit unlucky, so his 2.85 FIP is definitely a better indicator of his ability in Triple-A this year than his 4.50 ERA.

To me, Maikel Cleto has the upside to be a good high-leverage reliever in the future and is definitely one of the Cardinals best 15 prospects. He needs some more seasoning as his control is still poor, and he was the most expendable player on the roster to make room for Schumaker and his versatility and ability to get on base.

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Tags: Detroit Tigers Maikel Cleto Skip Schumaker St Louis Cardinals

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