ST. LOUIS • Cardinals first-round pick Michael Wacha will be promoted to Class AA Springfield today, continuing what's been a rapid rise for the righthander who started the year as Texas A&M's ace.

Wacha will report to Springfield, Mo., today to join the Cardinals' Double-A affiliate and its playoff chase, a team official confirmed.

He'll be used initially as a reliever for the S-Cards.

Wacha, the 19th overall pick in the June draft, made three appearances with the Gulf Coast League affiliate before moving straight to the High-A Palm Beach bullpen. The original plan was to keep Wacha there in Jupiter, Fla., and give him regular work out of the bullpen until the end of the season. His dominance in eight scoreless innings changed the plan.

Wacha made four relief appearances for the PB-Cards. He allowed one hit and one walk in his eight innings. He struck out 16.

He struck out 14 of the 20 righthanded hitters he faced.

The 21-year-old righthander will have a similar scheduled relief role at the beginning for the Springfield Cardinals. To keep control of his innings and monitor his appearances, the Cardinals have been scripting the days he'll appear as a reliever. There is the possibility that the S-Cards will shift to a six-man rotation because of the innings already pitched by Seth Maness and others. Wacha could fit into that discussion.

Wacha was advertised as a pitcher capable of climbing rapidly through the system when the Cardinals drafted him. He has a fastball that pops in the mid-90s and his changeup is a plus pitch that will be effective at the higher levels. This promotion to Class AA Springfield positions him to start 2013 in the S-Cards rotation.