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Spring Training: Lance Lynn Could Surprise For St. Louis Cardinals

Normally, pitchers and catchers reporting—the official start of Spring Training, of baseball season—is a happier occasion. This week, of course, we have the miserable wait for news on Albert Pujols to explain our sudden baseball-defying melancholy, but pitchers and catchers are still reporting, and that means that soon we'll have breathless reports from Jupiter, Florida about Cardinals minor leaguers. My pick for Annual February Surprise in 2011 is none other than Lance Lynn, Memphis Redbirds starter and the owner of a newly fiery fastball. 

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Lynn has always been a boring pitcher, both in terms of his approach—low-90s sinker, if you can believe it—and his results—decent peripherals, not a ton of strikeouts. In 2010, his first extended trip to AAA, he was still kind of boring, peripheral-wise. But recently the Cardinals let slip that Lynn had switched from a sinker to a four-seam fastball, with which he could touch 96 miles per hour in the rotation. That—well, that changes everything, especially when it's combined with a 16 strikeout game he picked up out of nowhere in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

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This Spring Training his peripherals won't matter. Somebody's going to see the fastball; somebody's going to write up a report about it, in glowing and breathless terms; and we'll all get very excited.

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At least that's my pick. Who do you think will take the spotlight this month and then probably disappear back to the minors all year?

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