CINCINNATI -- With 20 All-Stars ages 25 or younger, Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park will be a stage for Major League Baseball to showcase its crop of rising talent.
And while the Cardinals pace the National League with six All-Star representatives, they also top the Majors with three players falling in this youthful demographic. They're all pitchers, too, suggesting that an already pitching-rich organization has no dip in dominance coming.
Those three -- Trevor Rosenthal, who turned 25 on May 29; Michael Wacha, who turned 24 on July 1; and Carlos Martinez, who will turn 24 on Sept. 21 -- were named first-time All-Stars last week and enjoyed the start of that experience Monday. They not only represent the best pitching staff of the first half, but they also comprise an evolving young St. Louis core.
"It just brings a lot of excitement for what's possible in the years to come," said Wacha, who became the NL's second 10-game winner on June 27. Martinez would later become the third.
"They're all three really young and really, really good," said Matt Holliday, their All-Star veteran teammate. "I would imagine all three of them will be here for many years to come."
Three critical pieces on a pitching staff that boasts a Major League-best 2.71 ERA, Martinez, Wacha and Rosenthal each arrived in Cincinnati having answered key questions over the season's first half.
Martinez not only had the task of cracking the rotation, but also of channeling his emotions after a tumultuous offseason. Jaime Garcia's injury late in Spring Training helped Martinez nab the final rotation spot, and the right-hander has displayed a mature pitching approach ever since.
While wearing the number of deceased teammate, Oscar Taveras, Martinez entered the break leading the pitching staff in strikeouts (113) and quality starts (14).
"It's been a humbling experience for me, the loss of my friend," Martinez said. "Now I'm coming to the field to work. I understand that I'm a professional baseball player and I have to carry myself that way. ... I feel good that I'm able to represent Oscar on one of the biggest stages in baseball."
Wacha entered the season having to prove that he was more than the October wunderkind that dazzled on the postseason stage in 2013. His '14 season was marred by a shoulder injury, but Wacha has hushed health concerns and shown he can make an impact by posting a 2.93 ERA over 17 first-half starts.
"I definitely wanted to go out there and make sure everyone knew my arm was feeling good and I was ready for the season," Wacha said. "It's very nice not having to answer those [health questions] again."
And while Rosenthal was plenty pleased with the outcome (45 saves in 51 opportunities) last year, he sought to make the ninth inning less dramatic in his second season as a closer. A pair of weekend appearances aside, he has done so. Before Sunday's blown save, Rosenthal had a 0.86 ERA to complement his 26 saves.
"Over the last three years, it's been so cool to watch the young guys come up and perform well," Rosenthal said. "There are probably two or three more guys on our staff who could be here with us. We definitely deserve it the way we pitched in the first half to have three of us here representing all the hard work."
During the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile in Cincinnati on Tuesday, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app.
The 86th Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (coverage begins 6 p.m. CT), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.