It's been a whirlwind few months for Michael Wacha.
In June, he helped Texas A&M reach the Super Regionals of the NCAA baseball tournament. Then, less than 24 hours after the Aggies were eliminated, Wacha was selected by the Cardinals with the 19th overall pick in the 2012 Draft.
Now, only 10 weeks after his final college pitching appearance, he will end his rookie year toeing the rubber for Double-A Springfield.
The 6-foot-6 right-hander struck out six over three hitless innings in his Texas League debut Sunday, but the Cardinals fell to the visiting Corpus Christi Hooks, 7-1.
"The plan was to go to High-A and finish off the season there, but I ended up getting promoted," Wacha said. "It's an unbelievable thing to get that call. It's been fun the last three months."
Wacha made his first Springfield appearance in relief of Richard Castillo, who allowed three runs on seven hits and five walks over four innings. The Iowa native worked around a one-out walk to George Springer in the fifth inning by inducing consecutive popups, then struck out the next six batters.
"I was able to locate the fastball and throw the changeup to both sides of the plate," said Wacha, who threw 24 of 40 pitches for strikes and did not allow a ball to leave the infield.
"I would probably say I threw [the fastball] 75 percent of the time. The changeup is definitely my second pitch. My curveball is coming along, but it's still a work in progress. In college, it was kinda loopy and I only used it as a get-it-over pitch for a strike. But now it's a little tighter."
It's not as if Wacha's had a whole lot of time since college.
The Cardinals made him their top Draft pick after he went 9-1 with a 2.06 ERA and two complete games in 16 starts for the Aggies. He signed 10 days later and made his Minor League debut on July 11, less than two weeks after celebrating his 21st birthday.
But the excitement didn't stop there. He allowed one run over five innings in three appearances in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and was unscored upon over eight innings following a promotion to the Florida State League.
In those four relief appearances with Palm Beach, Wacha yielded one hit and one walk while striking out 16 batters. Now at his third level in as many months, he's yielded just one run on five hits and fanned 29 over 16 innings.
"My biggest weakness is needing to develop my curveball to make it a better pitch," said Wacha, who will not pitch anywhere this fall after the team suggested he rest his arm once the Minor League season is over.
"With three plus pitches, I can really keep hitters off-balance and that would make me more effective. If I can do that the last month, I would consider it a success."