The St. Louis Cardinals have announced that they have selected 24-year old LHP Connor Thomas to the team’s 40-man roster. This move protects him from possibly being picked up by another team in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
Thomas was drafted by the Cardinals in the 5th round (155th pick) back in 2019. He began his professional debut with St. Louis’ minor league affiliate State College Spikes the following year before being promoted to the Peoria Chiefs. Between the two clubs, Connor went 4-1 with a 3.77 ERA in 43 innings of work.
To begin the 2021 season, Thomas was assigned to Double-A Springfield where over the course of 20.1 innings he accumulated 24 strikeouts & a 4.87 ERA before being promoted to Memphis. The lefty ended up logging 101.2 innings for the Redbirds, where he ended the season with a 6-4 record (14 starts), 3.10 ERA while striking out 92 batters.
Thomas returned to Memphis at the start of this past season where he appeared in 28 games (25 starts) and went 6-12 with a 5.37 ERA. He also went on to strikeout 110 batters in 135 innings.
At the season’s end, he was selected to play in the Arizona Fall League (Salt River Rafters) along with fellow Cardinal prospects Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn & Tink Hence. Thomas impressed, compiling 34 strikeouts in 25.2 innings with a 1.75 ERA. He was named the starter for the AFL Fall Stars Game and was later named AFL Pitcher of the Year.
From the advice of former Cardinals pitching coach Mike Maddux, and the help of Cardinals Hall of Famer Jason Isringhausen, Thomas developed and worked on adding a cut fastball to his arsenal. Adding to his repertoire, paid dividends for Thomas during the Arizona Fall League season.
The Cardinals deciding to add Thomas to their 40-man roster (which now sits at 39) speaks volumes on the confidence they have in the lefty next season.
St. Louis will have some upcoming decisions to make regarding pitchers Alex Reyes & Chris Stratton who are in their last year of being arbitration-eligible as well as presenting contracts to other arb-eligible players prior to Friday’s deadline.
Notable players that the Cardinals elected to leave unprotected for the Rule 5 draft include: RHP Kodi Whitley, 1B Luken Baker, CF Scott Hurst, OF Todd Lott, RHP Kyle Leahy, 3B Evan Mendoza, C Pedro Pages, RHP Inohan Paniagua, RHP Tommy Parsons, 2B Chandler Redmond, RHP Griffin Roberts, SS Kramer Robertson.