"I've obviously been around here," Tuivailala, ranked the Cardinals' No. 11 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, said. "Being around the guys, I'm more comfortable. I already know what to expect and how to go about my work. Just be ready when my name is called, and I'll do exactly that."
Tuivailala began to develop a cutter during Spring Training in 2015 after Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist suggested he try to develop it. The pitch continues to be a work in progress. Tuivailala debuted the pitch in the Majors on May 19, 2015, and threw it 80 times in 14 appearances during his stint with the Cardinals last season. He finished with a 3.07 ERA.
"He's had some really good outings," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He's had some times where he has gotten himself into trouble and pitched himself out. He has times where he has been put in there in tough situations and has been able to improve."
Tuivailala averaged 87 mph with the cutter last season in the Majors, 10 mph slower than his fastball. The difference in velocity helps him to keep hitters off-balance, and the larger repertoire of pitches allows his heater to look faster when he throws it. He already has five more strikeouts in 13 fewer innings at the Triple-A level this season than he did last.
"I'm able to control [the cutter] on both sides of the plate, so it has allowed me to lower my pitch count and get guys out quicker," he said. "I'm getting a better feel for it every time I use it. I'm throwing it hard, really. It's definitely come a long way, and I'm comfortable with it right now."
• Matt Carpenter traveled to Ohio on Saturday due to a death in the family. Matheny expects Carpenter to return Sunday and not be placed on the bereavement list.
Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.