Andre Pallante Opens Eyes In AFL
A glance at 23-year-old Andre Pallante on the mound or a scan of his stats will look familiar for a college righthander wearing Cardinals colors.
And then he showed something new in the Arizona Fall League.
“He was lighting up the radar gun,” Cardinals outfielder and AFL teammate Lars Nootbaar told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this fall. “He turned some heads. Seeing that ball jump out of his hand, it was like, ‘Whoa, we might have something here.’ ”
During an AFL that favored hitters even more than usual, Pallante stood out for how little he gave up. His 1.29 was the lowest for any qualified pitcher who started at least one game. He struck out 22 in 21 innings and did not allow a home run.
The results were familiar and then came the sizzle of fastballs clocked at 99 mph.
Pallante ascended to Friday night starter for UC Irvine as a junior in 2019. The Cardinals drafted him in the fourth round that year, sticking with a type of college pitcher they favor. The since-traded Luke Weaver and Zac Gallen are recent examples of comparables.
Undrafted out of high school, Pallante developed a reputation as a strike-thrower with as many as four pitches. He mixed a changeup and a slider with a fastball that could cut and run, coaxing soft contact. Entering pro ball, his fastball sat 91-94 mph as a starter. He revved it up to 97 in relief and found an additional gear in Arizona while starting.
Pallante spent most of 2021 with Double-A Springfield, where he logged a 3.81 ERA in 99.1 innings. He struck out 86 and walked 46. Outside of one disastrous 10-run start, his ERA was 2.99.
Pallante made two appearances for Triple-A Memphis before he went to the AFL, where he sought to use the bonus innings and the caliber of talent to sharpen his command.
All told, he pitched 120 innings in 2021, putting him in a good spot to continue his ascent in 2022.
— Endeavor Group Holdings purchased 10 minor franchises in December, including the Cardinals' Triple-A Memphis affiliate. The sale isn’t expected to alter Memphis' long-running relationship with the Cardinals. The Cardinals sold a majority of their ownership in the Redbirds years ago to Peter Freund, who Endeavor named chief executive of its minor league venture. The development contract between the Cardinals and Memphis runs through at least 2030.
— In the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft held in December, the Cardinals added a couple of young, intriguing pitchers with arm strength: righthander Carlos Guarate, 20, who received a $300,000 bonus from San Diego, and lefty Nelfri Contreras, 22, a Dodgers farmhand. The Cardinals also added brawn to their lefthanded-hitting depth in outfielder Jonah Davis, who had 99 extra-base hits in 228 games in Pittsburgh’s system.