John Walter Gast
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 1", Weight 195 lb.
- School Florida State University
- High School Lake Brantley High School
- Debut May 14, 2013
John Gast was a winner in his major league debut for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Gast pitched for the USA in the 2005 World Youth Championship, allowing a hit and a walk in 2 1/3 IP over three games and fanning four. He was 1 for 1 with a run at the plate. His three mound appearances tied Blake Beavan and Robert Stock for the team lead. The US won a Silver Medal, losing the finale to Cuba. He had a 1.18 ERA as a high school senior and fanned 85 in 57 2/3 IP to win Seminole County Player of the Year. He was first drafted out of his Florida high school by the Texas Rangers in the 5th round of the 2007 amateur draft, but he chose to attend college at Florida State University instead.
John had Tommy John surgery prior to his freshman year of college. He was 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 14 K in 13 1/3 IP as a freshman and he appeared twice in the 2008 College World Series. As a sophomore, he was 5-3 with a 5.12 ERA in 28 games (tied for second on the FSU staff). He spent the fall with the Harwich Mariners, going 1-4 with a 4.37 ERA. In 2010, the junior southpaw was 7-3 with a 5.30 ERA. In FSU's opening loss to Texas Christian University in the 2010 College World Series, he tossed one shutout inning. He got the start in game 3, a make-or-break contest, and allowed two unearned runs in three innings. Reliever Mike McGee took the loss in a 11-7 defeat to TCU. He was drafted again in the 6th round in 2010, by the Cardinals, and accepted their offer, making his professional debut that same year.
Gast went 6-0, 1.54 in 8 games for the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League in his first taste of professional ball in 2010, immediately establishing himself as a player to watch. He struck out 36 batters in 35 innings, with only 8 walks, showing excellent control. He also had an incredible 9 pickoffs in that short period, to lead the entire 2010 draft class. He tied for 7th in the NYPL in victories. In the postseason, he was torched for nine hits and seven earned runs in five innings.
In 2011, he was a combined 9-8, 4.02 between the Class A Palm Beach Cardinals (5-4, 3.95) and AA Springfield (MO) Cardinals (4-4, 4.08), reaching AA barely a year after leaving college. His peripheral numbers were not eye-popping, but the important thing was how quickly he was moving up the organizational ranks, and holding his own. Among Cardinal farmhands, he was first in innings pitched (161 1/3), tied for 5th in wins (with Tyler Lyons), tied for seventh in losses (with Adam Ottavino and Justin Smith), second in hits allowed (165, four behind Brandon Dickson), tied for 6th in walks (61) and tied for 10th in strikeouts (113). His 11 pickoffs were sixth in Minor League Baseball. Baseball America said he had the best changeup in the St. Louis farm system.
In 2012, he was back at Springfield to start the season, and dominated Texas League batters in his second go-round at that level, with a record of 4-2, 1.93 in 8 starts and 41 Ks in 51 1/3 innings. That earned him a promotion to the AAA Memphis Redbirds on May 19th. He was not as brilliant against the higher level of competition, going only 9-5, 5.10 in 20 starts the rest of the way, but his combined line of 13-7, 4.09 in 28 starts, with 160 2/3 innings pitched meant that he was now on the short list to be called up to the big club when an opening arose. He picked off 12 baserunners, fifth-best in the minors. Among St. Louis minor leaguers, he was second in wins (one behind Seth Maness), first in starts (28), second in innings (160 2/3, 9 behind Maness), first in runs allowed (82), first in earned runs allowed (73), 3rd in walks (55) and third in strikeouts (127, trailing Shelby Miller and Lyons).
As had been the case in 2012, Gast opened the 2013 season with a vengeance while repeating a level, this time going 3-1, 1.16 over his first 7 starts for Memphis. He started the year with a streak of 32 consecutive scoreless innings.
He was called up to St. Louis when Jake Westbrook had to go on the disabled list in early May. Gast made his debut as the Cards' starter against the New York Mets on May 14th. He was very solid in his baptism of fire, holding the Mets scoreless over the first five innings, before tiring in the 6th, by which time St. Louis had a comfortable 9-0 lead. He ended up giving up 4 runs on 6 hits in 6 innings (a two-run homer by Marlon Byrd being the big blow) and was credited with the 10-4 win, his first as a big leaguer.