Independent ball star develops into top Cards reliever

Right-hander John Brebbia posted a 2.44 ERA in 50 appearances out of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen in 2017.

Right-hander John Brebbia posted a 2.44 ERA in 50 appearances out of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen in 2017.

By Devon Teeple

The GM's Perspective

A little over two years ago, Baseball America ranked John Brebbia as the second best Independent League prospect out there.

At the time, Brebbia was coming off his best professional season: 19 saves, 79 strikeouts in 64 innings, a 5.27 SO/W ratio and a 0.98 ERA. He was considered the best closer in the American Association (Laredo Lemurs).

After being drafted by the New York Yankees in the 30th round of the 2011 MLB amateur draft from Elon University he showed great promise in their lower levels posting a 2.96 ERA in his first professional season along with 53 strikeouts in 52 innings. He was released by the Yankees after his second season.

After his breakout season in Laredo, he was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He never played for them, but was picked up by the Cardinals in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft.

Now, an indy success story doesn’t get much press, but you can never go wrong when a relative unknown defies the odds.

After seven years in the game, Brebbia reached the majors in 2017 and produced outstanding numbers. Called up in May after an impressive stint at triple-A Memphis, he made his MLB debut in Colorado on May 28.

Armed with a four-seam fastball that regularly touched 94 mph, a slider, a sinker, a changeup, and an occasional curveball, he was one of the most dependable arms out of the Cardinals bullpen. Learning from the likes of veteran Brett Cecil, the now departed Trevor Rosenthal, and battery mate and future Hall of Famer, Yadier Molina, Brebbia was in a win-win situation.

Coming off a year with an ERA (2.44) and a WHIP (.929) that led all Cardinals relievers, it would appear on the surface that there’s nothing but continued success in the future for this late-bloomer.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Community Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at You can follow The GM's Perspective on twitter , Facebook, and Instagram.