In the same deadline deal the Cardinals acquired eventual Texas League MVP Thomas Saggese from the Rangers, it’s notable that internally they felt 22-year-old righthander Tekoah Roby might have the highest ceiling of all.
They just had to wait to see for sure.
Roby joined the Cardinals while on the injured list with a sore shoulder. It wasn’t until later in the season that he got four starts at Double-A Springfield and then went to the Arizona Fall League to add innings.
“I think he’s done well when he came to us,” Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. “Obviously he was limited. You’ve got to love the horsepower you’re seeing. We’re very excited we got him.”
Roby was the Rangers’ third-round pick in the truncated 2020 draft out of high school in Pensacola, Fla. In 10 starts for the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate in 2023 he pitched to a 5.05 ERA in 10 starts, with 50 strikeouts in 46.1 innings.
Roby was going through a throwing program at the time of the trade. He had to leave the Rangers’ facility in Arizona and shift that recovery to Jupiter, Fla.
The Cardinals sent lefthander Jordan Montgomery and reliever Chris Stratton to Texas in the trade. Roby rebuilt his arm strength and joined Saggese at Double-A Springfield. In four starts, Roby flashed what was possible.
Roby has a plus curveball, and he has improved his fastball to reach 96 mph more consistently and command the pitch more successfully. His fastball and curve play off each other by changing hitters’ eye levels.
Roby has worked on adding a slider.
His shoulder injury limited Roby to 70 innings, including the AFL. His workload increase will be conservative in 2024.
“We will watch innings, and you’re always cognizant of that,” Mozeliak said. “How does he start? How does he go? And then you can really start to understand how you think about the building blocks.”
— Ahead of the reserve roster deadline to protect eligible players from the Rule 5 draft, the Cardinals added a top defensive catcher and two pitchers acquired, like Roby, at the trade deadline. Catcher Pedro Pages, who had an OPS greater than .800 at Double-A, was added to the 40-man roster, as were Triple-A righthanders Adam Kloffenstein and Sem Robberse, two products of Jordan Hicks trade with the Blue Jays.
— The long, unusual saga of the Cardinals’ 2022 Rule 5 draft pick Wilking Rodriguez took its latest turn when the Cardinals passed him through waivers, and he cleared. They offered him back to the Yankees, and they passed. So the Cardinals outrighted him to Triple-A, prompting Rodriguez to opt for free agency. The power reliever, who missed all of 2023 with an injury, has an offer to return to the Cardinals on a minor league contract.