A pair of up-and-coming St. Louis Cardinals — who each made their major-league debuts in 2017 and have been mentioned in off-season trade talks — were named the organization’s minor-league player and pitcher of the year on Thursday.
The Cardinals have been viewed as a potential trade partners for many teams due to their depth of young arms and an organizational logjam in the outfield. Flaherty, in particular, may be a trade chip since the Cardinals are more likely to protect right-hander Alex Reyes, their top prospect
The centerpiece of the Cardinals’ biggest offseason move — the Dec. 13 trade for Miami Marlins slugger Marcell Ozuna — was right-hander Sandy Alcantara. The team, however, is believed to be pursuing further trades for a third baseman, a closer and possibly an established starting pitcher.
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Flaherty, 22, is the Cardinals’ third-ranked prospect behind Reyes and catcher Carson Kelly and is rated 57th on Baseball America’s Top 100. He went a combined 14-4 with a 2.18 ERA in his fourth professional season.
Flaherty was 7-2 with a 1.42 ERA at Class AA Springfield and had been named the Texas League Player of the Month in April by the time he got his June 1 promotion to Class AAA Memphis.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound California native pitched an inning in the All-Star Futures Game and was the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Month for August after posting a 4-1 record with a 1.97 ERA in five starts.
The Cardinals’ top draft pick of 2014, Flaherty made his major-league debut Sept. 1 at San Francisco. He pitched 21 1/3 innings in five starts and figured into two losses.
Bader, 23, is part of a crowded St. Louis outfield that includes starters Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham and Ozuna, along with Randal Grichuk and Jose Martinez, who could also be part of a first-base platoon.
In 123 games in Memphis, Bader batted .283 with 20 home runs and 55 RBIs. He also stole 15 bases and is considered a plus defender in center field.
A third-round draft pick out of the University of Florida in 2015, Bader made his major-league debut July 25, scoring the game-winning run on a walk-off sacrifice fly. He started the next six games, batting .235 with three home runs.
Some information came from a Cardinals public relations release.