St. Louis Cardinals Top 32 Prospects

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the St. Louis Cardinals. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as our own observations. This is the third year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but we use that as a rule of thumb.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here.

Cardinals Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Jordan Walker 21.0 MLB RF 2023 60
2 Masyn Winn 21.2 AAA SS 2025 50
3 Tink Hence 20.8 A+ SP 2025 50
4 Matthew Liberatore 23.6 MLB SP 2023 50
5 Gordon Graceffo 23.2 AAA SP 2024 50
6 Iván Herrera 23.0 MLB C 2023 45+
7 Michael McGreevy 22.9 AAA SP 2024 45
8 Cooper Hjerpe 22.2 A+ SP 2026 45
9 Leonardo Bernal 19.3 A C 2025 40+
10 Alec Burleson 24.5 MLB RF 2023 40+
11 Connor Thomas 25.0 AAA SP 2023 40+
12 Austin Love 24.3 A+ SP 2025 40+
13 Jonathan Mejia 18.1 A SS 2027 40+
14 Ian Bedell 23.7 A+ SP 2023 40
15 Brycen Mautz 21.9 A SP 2026 40
16 Ryan Loutos 24.3 AAA SIRP 2023 40
17 Guillermo Zuñiga 24.6 MLB SIRP 2023 40
18 Leonardo Taveras 24.7 AA SIRP 2025 40
19 Won-Bin Cho 19.8 A RF 2027 40
20 Andre Granillo 23.0 AA SIRP 2024 40
21 Pedro Pagés 24.7 AAA C 2024 40
22 Reiner Lopez 17.1 R SP 2029 40
23 Lizandro Espinoza 20.5 A SS 2025 40
24 Wilking Rodríguez 33.2 MLB SIRP 2024 40
25 Pete Hansen 22.8 A SP 2026 35+
26 Kyle Leahy 26.0 AAA MIRP 2023 35+
27 Moisés Gómez 24.7 AAA RF 2023 35+
28 Chandler Redmond 26.4 AA 1B 2023 35+
29 Jake Walsh 27.8 MLB SIRP 2023 35+
30 Gustavo J. Rodriguez 22.4 A+ SIRP 2024 35+
31 Edwin Nunez 21.6 A SIRP 2025 35+
32 Randel Clemente 21.5 R SIRP 2026 35+
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60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Decatur HS (GA) (STL)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 250 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 70/80 55/80 50/40 35/50 70

Walker worked out as a pitcher, shortstop, and third baseman in high school, then had a rough draft spring amid some weight gain, which is part of why he fell deep into the first round. To say he looks like a steal is a drastic understatement at this point, as he is one of the most exciting young hitters in the minors, with elite power potential and superlative on-paper performance at Double-A throughout 2022, all while he was still not old enough to have a beer. His hot 2023 spring training led to Walker breaking camp with the big league team, and he kicked off his major league career with a record-tying 12-game hit streak. A subsequent slump on both sides of the ball led to his demotion to Memphis for adjustments and refinement, and he continued to struggle there before finding his footing in mid-May. We see this more as a developmental speed bump than a harbinger of doom and still think that if you’re looking for the prospect most likely to hit 40 home runs in a season down the line, this is your player.

Any discussion of Walker begins with his titanic power, which is already among the best in pro baseball. He has a simple, well-leveraged swing that takes advantage of his strength, and the long levers that come with his 6-foot-5, 250 pound frame produce jaw-dropping home runs when he really squares one up and plenty of wall-threatening contact when he doesn’t. His approach is solid, though there are some issues chasing breaking balls and his in-zone swing-and-miss was a fair bit below average in 2022 (he swings inside a lot of sliders), but that was as a 20-year-old at Double-A.

Walker was initially developed as a third baseman, and his ability to bend and get deep into his legs, as well as his lateral agility and range, was pretty amazing for a player his size. But Walker’s quick rise through the minors and Nolan Arenado’s presence through 2027 dictated a move off of third base. Late in 2022, the Cardinals started giving Walker reps in the outfield, mostly in right, and he looked fine out there for someone who had just started playing there. While it was an encouraging first step and Walker still projects as a suitable defender in the outfield, he wasn’t ready for the TV league and sometimes still looks uncomfortable making routine plays. His rocket arm will be a weapon in right and he should eventually be an average defender there. Even if he ends up at 1B/DH over time, Walker will hit for enough power to be a star. The speed at which Walker is able to make that level of impact is important considering many of the Cardinals’ other key players are older.

50 FV Prospects

2. Masyn Winn, SS

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Kingwood HS (TX) (STL)
Age 21.2 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/55 45/50 30/40 60/60 50/55 80

Once a two-way prospect and an incredible on-mound athlete, Winn has been developed solely as a position player in pro ball and his offensive performance through the mid-minors (specifically from a bat-to-ball standpoint) elevated him into the Top 100 last summer. His performance has plateaued over the last year at Double- and Triple-A. He finished the 2022 season having performed exactly at the Double-A league average over his 86 games there despite being about four years younger than the average player at that level. He started 2023 at Triple-A and had a frustrating April, with an anemic slash line due largely to an unprecedented amount of swing-and-miss out of the strike zone. In particular, he had trouble laying off mid-to-upper-90s fastballs above the zone, which hadn’t been a problem area for him at lower levels. As of list publication, Winn is hitting .188 against fastballs 94 mph and above per Synergy, and he’s struggling to pull average big league velo at all. Is Winn’s sudden dip in performance due to an actual long-term issue that has recently been exposed, or is the 21-year-old simply less developed than his opponents?

The performance against high fastballs is troubling because Winn’s success to this point was largely thanks to the amount of contact he was making. His short levers and quick hands seemed capable of getting on top of high heat, but that hasn’t been the case in the upper minors. His swinging strike rate remains better than the big league average despite his specific issues with velocity. It’s pretty important for Winn to have a plus or better hit tool because he likely won’t hit for a ton of power. He’s a smaller-framed athlete without great long-term strength projection, and his swing isn’t especially whippy or rotationally explosive.

The good news is Winn’s shortstop defense will give his bat room to breath. His elite arm strength helps make up for a mediocre first step, and overall Winn is an average defender who projects to be a little better than that over time. Cracks have started to show at the plate and it’s important to pay attention to them throughout the rest of 2023, but we’re still betting that Winn’s athleticism will allow him to make adjustments that help his hit tool shine again, enough for him to continue projecting as a regular shortstop.

3. Tink Hence, SP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Watson Chapel HS (AR) (STL)
Age 20.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/70 55/60 30/55 30/45 95-97 / 100

Hence was picked up in the shortened 2020 draft, one of the youngest players taken that year. In 2021, he threw just eight innings on the complex, virtually all in relief. Then in 2022, he established himself as one of the premiere pitching prospects in the Cardinals system, tallying 81 strikeouts and just 15 walks over his 52.1 innings at Low-A, where he spent the entire season. His innings were limited in an effort to keep his workload light as he focuses on adding size and muscle to his frame, notching six outs every five days or so. The Cardinals continue to handle Tink’s workload conservatively early in 2023, as he’s working three innings per outing in the Midwest League.

One of the reasons his outings have been so short is because Hence’s command has been shaky. The industry thinks there’s still long-term relief risk here because of his command, while also acknowledging that the ceiling is huge because of the quality of his stuff and the possibility that his command and changeup (which is already flashing plus) will take a leap due to his superlative athleticism. Hence’s four-seamer sits comfortably around 96 mph with gravity-defying carry. It hasn’t been stress tested by an actual starter’s innings load, but even if things taper off as Hence’s innings count climbs, it’s going to be a plus pitch because of its underlying traits. His curveball has absurd depth for a pitch that often bends in around 85 mph, and this is a great two-pitch foundation for a power pitching prospect. The key developmental checkpoints for Hence to hit are improved strength for the purposes of durability, better command, and a more consistent changeup. The changeup flashes, but Tink isn’t often in counts where he can deploy it because of his tendency to fall behind hitters. His ability to spin the ball should eventually enable him to have two different breaking balls at maturity, but it’s more important for him to develop better fastball command before introducing or tweaking his breaking stuff. His injury-independent floor is that of a set-up man or closer, while Hence could be the second coming of Roy Oswalt is everything clicks.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Mountain Ridge HS (AZ) (TBR)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 50/55 60/60 45/55 55/60 93-95 / 98

A somewhat frustrating blend of exciting elements throughout his time as a prospect, Liberatore seems to have turned a corner early in 2023 and is now part of the big league rotation. He features a four-pitch mix and each of his offerings is at least average now that he’s had a velo spike at the onset of the season. His deep repertoire already presented an obvious starter’s foundation, but Libby’s sinker plays down and the extra heat will make a meaningful difference against big league hitters. His lovely, trademark curveball has a 12-6 shape, and he’s deployed the pitch to particularly devastating effect against left-handed opponents — between Triple-A and the majors in 2022, only one lefty recorded a hit on the curveball — but it’s a less-than-ideal pairing with his fastball. His slider tunnels better with the four-seamer, but its whiff and chase rates have been more pedestrian, though now that he’s throwing harder that might change. Meanwhile, his changeup hasn’t yet made the necessary strides to consistently play against advanced righty hitters, but Liberatore’s acumen for making adjustments and the grace and ease of his delivery allow for long-term projection in this area. He’s a contender’s fourth starter, the sort who lays claim to a postseason rotation spot due to his combination of stuff and execution.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2021 from Villanova (STL)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 60/60 45/45 55/55 50/55 92-97 / 99

Prior to his fifth-round selection in the 2021 draft, Graceffo had been Villanova’s Friday starter, routinely called upon to throw well over 100 pitches per outing. It’s no surprise then that his introduction to pro ball came with a reduced workload, which Graceffo combined with a clear commitment to hitting the gym, resulting in a nearly immediate velocity increase across his repertoire as he got in better shape. His fastball leapt into the 94-96 mph range in 2022, up six ticks from his college days and relying heavily on velocity rather than movement. Graceffo starts his windup with a step behind the rubber, then marches toward the plate, throwing from a high arm slot to create a downhill approach. He gets a lot of swing-and-miss on his slider, both in and out of the zone, and commands it well. He also features a looser breaking ball in his high-70s curveball, and his changeup flashes plus, but he hasn’t yet maintained his feel for it.

After dominating High-A across eight starts, he was promoted to Double-A Springfield, where Graceffo continued to throw a ton of strikes. He ended the season with one of the lowest walk rates (5.1%) among minor leaguers who notched at least 130 innings. He entered 2023 profiling as a near-ready fourth starter and Top 100 prospect. When Graceffo came out sitting 92-94 early in 2023, it was notable but not yet concerning — it was only April, after all. While he has touched 99 in the interim and was sitting 94-97 early during his start on April 28, Graceffo was put on the IL with a right shoulder impingement at the beginning of May (for whatever reason, it isn’t on his MiLB player page). He slides all the way to the back of the 50 FV tier as a result, and because his velo was fluctuating not long before the injury, it’s key to assess his arm strength as soon as he returns. He still projects as a fourth starter for now, but if the shoulder issue has a sustained impact on his arm strength, then he’ll need to slide further.

45+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Panama (STL)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 50/50 35/40 40/40 35/40 40

Herrera was once considered the catcher of the future within the Cards system. He looked the part in the early days of his development, emerging rapidly after his signing in 2016. He’s always performed at or above a league average level with the bat and is an especially gifted contact hitter for a catcher, but Herrera’s defense has plateaued and remains below average across the board. The offseason signing of Willson Contreras was an indication not only that was Herrera no longer seen as surefire successor to Yadier Molina, but also that the Cardinals thought Contreras, who isn’t a good defender, was fine enough to be a primary backstop while Herrera was not. When Contreras struggled early in 2023, the team did not turn to Herrera as a bandaid, even as he was hitting down in Memphis, and the Cardinals are carrying one more catcher on their 40-man roster (four) than is typical.

A scouting rule of thumb is to give catchers who have any kind of offensive ability as much developmental runway as possible. The industry inventory behind the plate isn’t exactly flush with good hitters, and lots of bat-first catchers take until they’re deep into their 20s to polish their gloves enough to truly ascend to a primary role. Herrera’s 2022 in-zone contact rates were incredible (89%) and he’s historically been an above-average contact hitter with plus feel for the strike zone. An inside out swing means most of Herrera’s fly ball contact goes to the opposite field, where he does mostly doubles damage. It’s too much offense to consider Herrera merely a backup catcher prospect, but not enough for him to profile at another position if he doesn’t improve back there. He’s running out of option years and has to be traded or elevated to a big league role within the next year. He might initially be a part-time or backup catcher, but projects to have some seasons as an above-average offensive performer at the position later during his pre-free agency years.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from UC Santa Barbara (STL)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/45 55/60 45/50 40/55 55/60 91-94 / 95

McGreevy’s arm stroke is super compact and consistent, and the big, converted infielder goes right at hitters with a ton of sinkers and sliders. He has 30-grade fastball velocity, but his ability to locate his heater, vary the amount of sink and tail it has, and work with really tough angle in on the hands of righties gives him plenty of fastball utility. Both of McGreevy’s breaking balls tend to have vertical shape and vary in velocity. He has a low-80s curveball that acts as a strike-stealer early in counts and a harder slider that, at its best, has two-plane finish that plays as a backfoot weapon against lefties. The least consistent aspect of McGreevy’s repertoire is his slider’s shape, which is more hittable when he’s around the side of it and generating only lateral action. McGreevy’s big development since college is that he no longer has a very obvious difference in his arm slot and release when throwing his curveball. Even though he doesn’t throw a ton of changeups right now, that pitch has deep projection. He creates pretty good tumble on the few changeups he does throw, and it’s easy for him to sell the fastball out of his hand because of the quickness of his arm stroke. He doesn’t have quite the same level of breaking ball quality, but McGreevy is similar to Joe Musgrove in a lot of ways and projects as a low-variance no. 4/5 starter. He was promoted to Memphis after three great Double-A starts and is in position to make his big league debut late in 2023 or early in 2024, both of which would be ahead of his chalk 40-man clock.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Oregon State (STL)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/60 50/55 35/55 88-92 / 95

Hjerpe was a superlative college performer at Oregon State who was ranked 29th on our 2022 draft board and was selected 22nd overall. His funky low-slot delivery presented a non-traditional look for a starter prospect, but Hjerpe’s consistency and command over the course of three years with the Beavers quelled concerns. His fastball only sits 88-92 mph and touches 95 on occasion, but he hides the ball well, and his low, long arm action creates a very weird uphill angle on his fastball, allowing it to play up. Hjerpe (pronounced “Jerpy” for those of you who have read it but never said it) also creates huge lateral action on his slider, which often starts in the lefty batter’s box and bends back over the corner of the plate. Lots of right-handed hitters give up on this pitch too soon, and Hjerpe’s changeup, which has improved over the course of his professional career, tunnels well with his fastball, giving him a couple of different ways to keep righty batters from pounding his heater. It isn’t as nasty looking as his slider, but Hjerpe’s changeup is virtually always located in the lower half of the zone or below. During his time at Oregon State, he’d also mix in the occasional curveball or cutter, though neither has factored into his arsenal as a professional as of yet. Still, a lefty with an invisible fastball and an increasingly reliable changeup will always be a valuable pitcher to some degree, and he looks poised for a no. 4/5 starter role.

40+ FV Prospects

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Panama (STL)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 40/45 20/40 40/40 30/55 55

Bernal was the Cardinals’ top 2021 international signee, a physical, switch-hitting Panamanian catcher with a well-rounded game. After a solid DSL debut in 2021, the Cardinals skipped him over the Florida Complex League in 2022 and sent him straight to Low-A, where he slashed an impressive .256/.316/.455 in 45 games. Back with Palm Beach to start 2023, he’s again showing a mix of advanced plate discipline and feel for sweet spot contact. Bernal has a good looking low-ball swing from both sides of the plate, but he’s especially short to the ball from the left side. While he’s only 19, Bernal isn’t especially projectable and looks more like a grizzled college catcher than he does a fresh-faced youngster. He’s an advanced defender with an above-average arm and is very likely to stay behind the plate. There may not be big raw power arriving down the line, but the contact, OBP, and doubles pop — all coming from a switch-hitting package — gives Bernal an everyday toolkit for a catcher. The risk associated with teenage catching dilutes his prospect value, but Bernal is a long-term primary catcher at a great distance from the big leagues.

10. Alec Burleson, RF

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from East Carolina (STL)
Age 24.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 214 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/55 55/55 45/45 30/30 40/40 60

The Cardinals pushed Burleson, a small college conference two-way player, to the upper levels very quickly, having him spend most of his first full season (2021) at Double-A Springfield before a late-season promotion to Memphis. In Memphis, he raked throughout 2022 (.331/.372/.532, yowza) and earned a 16-game big league cup of coffee in September, as well as part-time big league role early in 2023. So far in the majors, Burleson’s surface-level statistical performance has been poor, but his peripheral data (a measly strikeout rate and an xwOBA of about .320 across nearly 200 plate appearances) suggests that he’s due for positive regression and is closer to a league-average hitter. Despite a consistently low walk rate in the minors, Burleson was a ZiPS Top 100 prospect in the offseason, but eyeball scouts (including the two of us) have tended to round down on him due to concerns about his medium- and long-term athleticism and mobility, and where that might leave him on defense.

Burleson’s swing-happy approach is also a concern (he had a 58% swing rate in 2022, which is extremely high), but so far that hasn’t turned into a jump in strikeouts against big leaguers. The total lack of patience is the one thing standing between Burleson and a John Kruk comp. Burleson can really hit. He’s adept at moving the barrel all over the zone and hitting the ball hard without an elaborate mechanical operation, and his swing becomes even simpler with two strikes. He can get on top of up-and-in fastballs, though he sometimes strangely inside-outs them to left field. He also tends to take pitches down and away from him the opposite way, with enough strength to do extra-base damage in that direction.

He lacks great ball skills in the outfield but Burleson does have a plus arm, as you might expect given his two-way amateur pedigree. There’s enough here to project him in a strong-side platoon role in one of the outfield corners (normally a 45 FV grade), though we’re rounding down a little bit here to account for what we anticipate will be an earlier decline phase.

11. Connor Thomas, SP

Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Georgia Tech (STL)
Age 25.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 173 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
30/30 55/55 40/45 55/55 70/70 86-90 / 92

Thomas epitomizes the pitchability lefty archetype, a sinker/cutter surgeon who lives on the black. Most of his swings and misses are generated with his slider, while the interplay of his sinker and cutter helps him stay off barrels and generate a plus groundball rate. Thomas has worked at least 122 innings each of the last two seasons en route to a 40-man spot and an assignment to Triple-A to start 2023. Thomas’ career walk rate as a pro has hovered around an incredible 6% and he seems quite durable. While he has fifth starter stuff, Thomas’ precise feel to pitch and ability to eat innings has us valuing him in the 40+ FV tier. He won’t be a dominant big league starter — his stuff isn’t on par with the 45 FV and above pitchers who we project as key pieces on a contender’s staff — but he’s also too good to just slap a fifth starter grade on him and call it a day. He’s ready and waiting to make his big league debut.

12. Austin Love, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from North Carolina (STL)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 232 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 70/70 40/50 40/50 92-95 / 98

Love does not have a graceful, picturesque delivery, but his extremely short arm action keeps his release consistent enough for him to have viable starter’s control. His slider quality and command are both incredible, as Love’s feel for dotting his mid-80s two-planed dagger is incredibly consistent. Love is less precise with his fastball, but he tends to live in the upper half of the zone, where it plays best. Developing a splitter or change will be the key for Love. He has one that he barely throws, but that flashes bat-missing tumble and sink. It will at least give him a third distinct pitch, something moving to his arm-side and diving enough to induce groundballs at the very least. Love has a huge, innings-eating frame, but his delivery is stiffer than the typical major league starter look. He’s a high-probability big leaguer, with the floor of an ultra-consistent middle reliever and the ceiling of a no. 4/5 starter.

13. Jonathan Mejia, SS

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (STL)
Age 18.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 30/45 20/45 55/55 40/55 50

One of the top 2022 international amateur prospects, Mejia is a medium-framed, switch-hitting shortstop with advanced feel for contact. He tracks pitches well from both sides of the plate, has a relatively compact swing (his lefty cut is more athletic and powerful right now) and is already pretty strong for an 18-year-old. While we’re not talking about a prospect with huge, overt power projection, Mejia’s feel for contact should enable him to get to whatever raw power he ends up with, and he’s a high-probability long-term shortstop. Mejia slashed .267/.418/.479 in the 2022 DSL and began 2023 in extended spring training before he was promoted to Palm Beach just before list publication. It will probably take a while, but Mejia has the all-around skill set to be an everyday shortstop.

40 FV Prospects

14. Ian Bedell, SP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Missouri (STL)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 198 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/60 40/50 35/60 92-94 / 95

Bedell missed most of the 2022 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but made three starts on the complex and three more at Low-A to close out the season. He started 2023 at High-A, where his 23 years place him right around the average for pitchers at the level. He’s thus far posted the best strikeout rate of any starter in the Cardinals system at 34.5%. While his exceptional command, particularly of his curveball, has long been credited for his arsenal’s overall strength, his fastball has also historically played up due to his low arm slot. His fastball is now sitting 92-94 mph, which is a tick above where he’d been pre-injury and further bolsters the pitch’s playability. At times, the heater has had a ton of life, and Bedell has demonstrated a proficiency for spinning it, so he could be just a hand adjustment away from catching fire. If he can maintain the command that has allowed him to dominate the lower levels upon returning from injury, he’s a prime candidate for a quick rise through the system, and he could find himself at the back of the Cardinals rotation sooner than later.

15. Brycen Mautz, SP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from San Diego (STL)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
30/35 60/60 30/45 35/60 90-94 / 95

It looks like the Cardinals have lowered Mautz’s release point, though it hasn’t been done by lowering his slot. Instead, Mautz is getting deeper into his legs during his delivery. He doesn’t seem totally comfortable with this yet, as his fastball command has backed up since his 2022 draft spring, but it’s clear the move is meant to give his fastball a shallower angle that might lead it to miss more bats at the letters. Though Mautz has been using his changeup more often so far in pro ball (probably for developmental reasons), his slider is still his best pitch. It has depth and two-planed break that plays away from lefties and to the back foot of righties. Hitters seem to struggle to pick up the baseball out of his hand and then have to quickly parse his sinker from his slider, which diverge laterally. We expect Mautz’s command will rebound as he gets more comfortable with some of the tweaks to his delivery and still project him as a backend starter.

16. Ryan Loutos, SIRP

Undrafted Free Agent, 2021 (STL)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 45/50 50/50 94-96 / 98

Loutos went undrafted out of Division-III Washington University in 2021, but signed that year with the Cardinals as a free agent and moonlighted in the org’s front office, putting his computer science degree to use and building analytical models. When he started devoting his full attention to his on-field development, Loutus unearthed six ticks on his fastball, which now sits 95 mph and touches 98 after he was 90-92 in college. That velo bump adds more punch to a flat-angled sinker that has a mix of positive and negative traits. The deception caused by his over-the-top angle dictates Loutos’ letter-high approach with his fastball, which pairs nicely with his knuckle curveball. Loutos has recently transitioned from a slower slider to a hard cutter, so that pitch might improve over time and give him a third weapon. In 2022, he rocketed through the system, spending parts of the season at High-, Double-, and Triple-A. He started the 2023 season at Double-A but was quickly promoted once again, and early on was striking out nearly a third of opposing batters at Triple-A. He’s on the long list of potential pitching prospects who could make a 2023 impact.

17. Guillermo Zuñiga, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Colombia (ATL*)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 45/45 40/40 95-98 / 101

Of all the players whose lives were upended by Atlanta’s 2017 international scandal, Zuñiga has the best chance to wear a big league uniform for a while. Once a Braves sleeper prospect, Zuñiga was made a free agent due to the fallout from the John Coppolella-era scandal and signed with the Dodgers; he climbed through the minors with LA before reaching minor league free agency and signing with the Cardinals.

This is the Colombian giant’s seventh appearance on a list as he’s remained relevant as a middle relief prospect due to his arm strength and, more recently, his breaking ball consistency. Zuñiga has long sat in either the mid- or upper-90s depending on the night, and had a concerning lack of athleticism and command. His feel for locating his slider (which bends in anywhere between 81-91 mph) has improved, as has his spin rate (by about 350 rpm since we last sourced data on Zuniga). His delivery isn’t pretty, but Zuñiga’s sliders tend to either land on the glove-side corner or comfortably off the plate, rarely hung and vulnerable in the middle of the zone. All three of his pitches are generating an above-average swinging strike rate at Triple-A as of list publication, and Zuñiga’s stuff is on par with a pretty standard middle reliever.

18. Leonardo Taveras, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (STL)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
70/70 60/60 30/35 95-98 / 100

Have things actually clicked for Taveras or are we seeing a lightning in a bottle beginning to his 2023? The statuesque righty has long been a tantalizing Others of Note prospect because of his build, arm strength, and breaking ball quality, but he’s also had some seasons where he’s walked more than a batter per inning, far too wild to make the main section of the list. So far in 2023, he’s comfortably leading the entire St. Louis org in swinging strike rate at nearly 20% as he’s found enough mechanical consistency to rip upper-90s fastballs and monster two-plane sliders past High-A hitters.

Taveras is built like a young Justin Verlander and has a similar arm slot. His fastball is deadly at the letters and much more vulnerable low in the zone because of how much downhill plane it has when it’s located there. The notion that Taveras will eventually have consistent feel for locating his fastball enough for it to dominate feels foolish; he’s 24 and has had coherent control for basically one month of his entire pro career. But if we’re lining up who looked best in the window during which we worked on this list, Taveras would at least be in the 40+ FV tier. He has late-inning stuff and there’s a small chance he’s put things together.

19. Won-Bin Cho, RF

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from South Korea (STL)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/60 35/55 50/50 30/50 55

Cho’s amateur stock blew up at a power-hitting showcase in Texas, and amid some controversy surrounding his potential participation in the KBO Draft, he continued to play at high school showcase events stateside. He eventually signed with St. Louis, a club that tends to have late-market money for Cuban players or anyone else who becomes available later in the signing calendar.

Cho is a big-framed lefty corner outfield prospect with exciting power. He stands apart from most of the other Low-A hitters because of his physicality, bat speed, and the athletic bend he shows in his lower half during some of his swings. How much he hits will dictate how much of his power Cho gets to. He’s made substantial improvements to his strikeout rate early in 2023, and his swing is different than in 2022 but not in a way that you’d expect would help him make more contact. Cho’s leg kick and move forward in the box is now much bigger than it was in 2022. He looks stronger, like he no longer has to throw his entire body into his swing just to take a good rip, and it seems as if he’s more in control of his body and hands in the batter’s box. His breaking ball recognition still isn’t great and there’s still a ton of risk that he won’t hit enough to profile in a corner. It’s tough to call a relatively famous prospect a “sleeper,” but that’s the way Cho is evaluated here, as a risky teenager with one future plus tool.

20. Andre Granillo, SIRP

Drafted: 14th Round, 2021 from UC Riverside (STL)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
55/55 60/60 50/50 94-96 / 98

Granillo’s entire three-year college career as a member of the UC Riverside bullpen amounted to a total of 55.2 innings, thanks to the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and just eight relief appearances in 2021 as a redshirt sophomore. While most of his numbers were unremarkable, his strikeout rate stuck out, as he issued 74 Ks over that short span of innings and followed it up with a very impressive showing at the Cape that summer. Lucky for Granillo, that year’s draft took place after his summer league emergence, which earned him selection in the 14th round. At the time, he was sitting 88-91 mph with his fastball, but 2022 was a breakout season for him. He tacked an astounding six ticks onto his fastball, which now rests comfortably in the mid-90s with ride and run. He also threw his slider at a 31% clip, garnering a 57% whiff rate on the low-80s offering with late vertical movement. He spent time at Low-, High-, and Double-A last year, finishing the season with a combined strikeout rate of 35.7%, second only to Tink Hence among pitchers in the system with at least 50 innings. Granillo has thus far improved upon that metric in 2023 and, even more encouraging, he’s paired it with a walk rate of just 6.9%, down from 13.3% last year. He’s on a fast track to a core, single-inning relief role.

21. Pedro Pagés, C

Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Florida Atlantic (STL)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 234 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 45/45 30/40 20/20 55/55 60

Aside from the occasional blockable pitch that scoots away from him, Pagés is a very sure-handed and stable catching prospect with a plus arm. As a hitter, he tries to compensate for below-average bat speed by keeping things very simple at the dish. Pagés has an open stance and just shifts his weight forward, no leg kick or anything. He’s still often late on fastballs and is best when he gets a breaking ball that catches enough of the plate for him to hook it into the left field corner. It is a very low-impact approach, but enough for Pagés to project as a nearly ready backup catcher.

22. Reiner Lopez, SP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Venezuela (STL)
Age 17.1 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
35/60 40/55 20/50 86-90 / 93

Signed for $500,000 in January, Lopez is a deep projection pitching prospect with rare size. Already 6-foot-8, there’s a real possibility that he reaches 7-feet tall by the time he’s done growing. It’s tough to find precedent in baseball for a prospect this tall. There’s Eury Pérez, who is 6-foot-8 now but wasn’t at age 17. The closest comp might be to Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram when Ingram was at Duke. Lopez is shockingly graceful and athletic for a pitcher his size, and even though we’re currently talking about a prospect throwing 87-89 mph and peaking around 93, there are reasons to project on Lopez’s arm strength that we hope are obvious. The rest needs to be developed. Usually prospects who receive about this much bonus money and are going to take several years to develop end up in the 35+ FV tier, but the amount of physical projection here is so extreme that we want to account for Lopez’s ceiling more than we would with a more typical pitching prospect this age.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (STL)
Age 20.5 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 158 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 30/30 20/30 55/55 45/60 55

The miniature Espinoza is a glove-first shortstop prospect whose defense is going to carry him to a low-end bench infield role. Built like a Mini Cooper, Espinoza is stronger and more muscular than you’d guess by just looking at his measurables, but he’s still not strong enough to guide the bat around the zone with any real authority. This guy’s not going to hit a ton and things might be so lean on offense that he isn’t a big leaguer at all, but we think his glove will be sufficient to earn him a small role.

24. Wilking Rodríguez, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2006 from Venezuela (TBR)
Age 33.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 40/40 55/55 40/40 97-99 / 101

Rodríguez is the oldest player to ever appear on a FanGraphs prospect list at age 33, and he’ll be on again next year because he had an arthroscopic shoulder surgery in early May and will likely miss the rest of the 2023 season. He’s old enough to have signed with the Devil Rays (puts a dollar in the swear jar) back when they were still called that, a time so distant that Rodríguez’s MiLB player page transactions don’t go back far enough to include his signing date. Before this season with the Cardinals, Rodríguez had last pitched in affiliated ball in 2015 with the Yankees, who still controlled his rights (which is why the Cardinals Rule 5’d him from the Yanks over the winter). He spent the last several years pitching in Mexico and Venezuela, where his arm strength exploded. He was working 97-100 mph at times last August for Mexico’s Dos Laredos, up from the 90-92 range he showed during the 2022 Caribbean Series less than a year before. Rodríguez has a rock-and-fire delivery that was generating a 97-99 mph fastballs before the injury. He was mixing in a 93-96 mph cutter and the occasional low-80s curveball, bullying hitters with velo without a modicum of precision. It was a middle relief look and remains a really fun story, provided he can come back from the shoulder injury.

35+ FV Prospects

25. Pete Hansen, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2022 from Texas (STL)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
30/40 55/55 45/50 40/50 35/55 88-92 / 94

Hansen was a prominent high school prospect because of his advanced command and good lefty breaking ball. He went to Texas but didn’t really get any better there and was still sitting 88-92 mph by the time his draft year rolled around. His fastball has what looks like the potential for bat-missing vertical movement based on his arm slot, but his heater doesn’t do a lot of in-zone damage. Instead, Hansen’s two-planed slider, which he locates consistently, is his best weapon. He can throttle down the speed of his breaker to throw more of a curveball and has fair feel for a changeup. There’s a four-pitch foundation here (only one of which is above average) and the command to develop as a starter, but Hansen’s stuff quality is currently more in line with a spot starter than someone who is consistently in a rotation.

26. Kyle Leahy, MIRP

Drafted: 17th Round, 2018 from Colorado Mesa Univ. (STL)
Age 26.0 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/50 45/45 45/45 50/50 93-96 / 98

After bouncing back and forth between the rotation and bullpen in the seasons surrounding the pandemic, Leahy threw an absurd 160 innings in 2022 between the regular season and the Fall League. He was working with four 45-grade pitches as a starter but showed a velo leap when he shifted to relief in Arizona. Leahy has moved to the bullpen in 2023 and he’s sustained the velo bump he showed in the fall. He’s sitting 95 mph and has emphasized his slider more than when he was a starter, though he hasn’t totally scrapped his changeup and curveball. There still isn’t a plus pitch here, but there’s enough repertoire depth to project Leahy in a low-leverage multi-inning role.

27. Moisés Gómez, RF

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (TBR)
Age 24.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 70/70 45/50 40/40 40/40 55

Gómez was under Top 100 consideration back in 2018 when he tallied 60 extra-base hits in A-ball while he was still with the Rays, but his total lack of plate discipline tanked his performance and prospect stock as he reached the upper levels. He hit .171 during his first season at Double-A, was released by Tampa Bay, and signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals. Repeating Double-A went well for Gómez, who hit 23 homers and slugged a ridiculous .705 in 60 games before he was promoted to Memphis last season. Make no mistake, Gómez will punish you for yours. Hanging breaking balls and piped fastballs are not safe, and Gómez has so much power that he doesn’t even need to make flush contact to put balls out to any field. He still takes overzealous at-bats and has a ton of in-zone swing-and-miss, especially versus in-zone fastballs, against which Gómez tends to be late. There’s too little hit tool here for a corner outfield role, but there’s enough power to consider Gómez an above-replacement player and excellent candidate for a gig in Asia, where he might be a star.

Drafted: 32th Round, 2019 from Gardner-Webb (STL)
Age 26.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 231 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 70/70 50/50 30/30 30/30 40

Redmond put his power on display in 2022, with the highlight coming in early August when the hulking lefty became only the second professional ballplayer to ever hit for the home run cycle. But despite that obvious thump, Redmond’s swing-and-miss struggles continue to drag down his overall profile. As a result, he finished the season with a 97 wRC+ as a 25-year-old at Double-A, even with a career-high 21 home runs in his 94 games. He’s gotten off to a hot start in 2023, with 16 bombs and a 1.012 OPS over his first 38 games. Still, his strikeout rate is a concerning 30.9%, including an uncomfortable number of whiffs on mid-zone fastballs and hanging breakers that he should be pulverizing. Considering his lack of defensive utility (he’s once again been relegated to 1B/DH only this season) and without marked improvement in his swing-and-miss numbers, he’ll max out as an up-down guy.

29. Jake Walsh, SIRP

Drafted: 16th Round, 2017 from Florida Southern (STL)
Age 27.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 192 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 30/35 35/40 95-98 / 99

Walsh’s performance at Triple-A in 2022 was enough to earn him a call-up to the big league bullpen in mid-May. His first major league stint was cut short due to elbow soreness, which resulted in missed time for a PRP injection, the latest in a long list of health issues for the righty. He started the 2023 season at Triple-A, usually making one-inning cameos late in games. He sports a vertically-oriented attack featuring a 95-99 mph fastball, which he uses up in the zone, and a diving, low-80s curveball, which plays off of the shape of the heater. His command is shaky, though, as evidenced by a mid-teens walk rate that is creeping dangerously close to matching his lower-than-usual strikeout rate. Unless he can either show marked improvement in his command or adjust his upper-80s slider to provide more variety in his pitch mix, he’s likely to remain in up/down limbo.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (STL)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 30/40 20/35 93-96 / 98

Now at High-A Peoria, Rodriguez’s development is still in a holding pattern as he struggles to find release consistency while showing good looking stuff. At a broad-shouldered, high-waisted 6-foot-3, Rodriguez is already bumping 97-98 mph at peak and sitting 93-96. His low-80s curveball lacks consistency but flashes bat-missing depth. Essentially a not-as-nasty version of Leonardo Taveras, Rodriguez is one of several well-built relief prospects in this system for whom you hope things click, because as of now, the control/command piece isn’t of viable big league quality.

31. Edwin Nunez, SIRP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (STL)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 30/45 50/60 20/30 96-98 / 99

Nunez, who signed for just north of $500,000 after he was suspended for a year due to an age discrepancy, has an explosive upper-90s fastball. But he ran a bloated ERA and walk rate in his first two pro seasons due to a total lack of mechanical consistency, which seemed to be worsened by poor conditioning. Some of that has been remedied in 2023, as Nunez looks svelte, his delivery has been much more consistent, and he’s nearly halved his walk rate. Despite its velocity, the shape and angle of Nunez’s fastball causes it to play down from a bat-missing standpoint, but it’s getting an above-average rate of groundballs (57%). While utilizing a fastball-heavy approach overall, Nunez’s changeup has caught up to his slider in terms of usage and is now outpacing it in its effectiveness. With his new, more consistent arm stroke, it could be an above-average pitch. After floating toward the very bottom of the Cardinals prospect list for the last two years as an arm strength flier, Nunez looks more like he’s on track to be in the 40-man mix as a reliever after the 2024 season. A mid-season promotion to Peoria would put him on pace to spend the back half of 2024 at Springfield, comfortably within range of a roster spot if he keeps throwing strikes.

32. Randel Clemente, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (STL)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 173 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/55 30/40 94-97 / 98

A nice little backfield find last year, Clemente is another young righty with a Division-I QB’s frame and a huge arm. He’ll show you 94-98 mph and can really spin his breaking ball, but Clemente’s command is so raw that he didn’t break camp with an affiliate and is once again in extended spring training. He’s still just an arm strength flier at this stage, and needs both breaking ball and command refinement to profile as a reliever.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Devil Magic Candidates
Nathan Church, OF
Mike Antico, OF
Victor Scott II, OF
Alex Iadisernia, OF

This group of mostly old-for-the-level hitters tends to lack the power to profile at the positions they can play, but several of them have bat-to-ball feel or good secondary skills and might walk a version of the Jon Jay path. Church, a little lefty stick from UC Irvine, has the best bat-to-ball feel of this group but arguably the least physicality. Antico and Scott can both fly. Scott especially is playing well in the Midwest League, but we don’t see his swing as having long-term viability, as it’s so long. Iadisernia has some barrel feel and a compact lefty stroke and is doing well at Low-A.

Defense Might Carry Them
Jimmy Crooks, C
Michael Curialle, 3B/OF
Aaron McKeithan, C
Noah Mendlinger, 2B

Crooks, a fourth rounder out of Oklahoma from the 2022 draft, has a collection of 40-grade tools that will play on a 40-man if he can become a 50 or better defender. Curialle has been a notable prospect since he was a high school underclassman. He performed well at UCLA, so he should be crushing the Florida State League and he is. His swing has some similarities to Justin Turner’s, but Curialle’s hands aren’t quite that quick. He’s not a lock to stay at third, but if he can play several corner positions, he’ll hit enough to be a 40. McKeithan is old for High-A, but he has on-base skills, sneaky pull pop, and plays a premium position. Mendlinger has been tough for upper-level pitchers to make swing and miss, and he plays second and third base.

Has a Relief Shot
Trent Baker, RHP
Roy Garcia, RHP
Andrew Marrero, RHP
Nathanael Heredia, LHP

Baker has been in the Peoria rotation sitting 92-94 mph with his usual plus changeup. His delivery is as violent as the end of Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and more typical of a reliever. Garcia and Marrero (also both with Peoria — Garcia was just promoted) sit about 95. For Marrero, that’s a four-tick bump compared to 2022, though he has very little release consistency right now. Garcia’s fastball plays down a bit due to its sink. Heredia hasn’t thrown at an affiliate as of list publication, but a source told us he’s been sitting 92-94 with sink and a fair slider in extended. That’s below our previous notes on him by a few ticks, enough to slide him here. He was recently assigned to Palm Beach and might get underway there soon, so keep an eye on his velo in case it rebounds.

Depth Starters
Max Rajcic, RHP
Inohan Paniagua, RHP
Hancel Rincon, RHP
Cade Winquest, RHP

Rajcic has a vertical fastball/curveball combo that should do well in the lower levels of the minors. He sits 92-93 mph with riding life and has a pathway to the bigs as a multi-inning reliever if his slider and changeup keep playing against more advanced hitters. So far those pitches are performing well on a rate basis, but he’s barely throwing them. Paniagua is an athletic little righty with 30-grade velo and a good curveball who has been out with a shoulder injury so far in 2023. Rincon, 21, has a lot of starter ingredients in his repertoire depth (led by a changeup), and the ease and grace of his delivery. He’s only sitting 90-94 right now and is of smaller build, like Paniagua but without a nasty secondary pitch. Winquest is also athletic, throws strikes, and will bump 95, but he lacks an out pitch right now. He can land his breaking ball for strikes and has a really firm changeup that might develop into a power-action style cambio.

Big Money High School Picks
Alec Willis, RHP
Joshua Baez, DH
Tre Fletcher, RF

Willis was a $1 million prep signee in the 2021 seventh round. There was a point when the 6-foot-5 righty was sitting 82-85 mph as an amateur, then he came back from ulnar nerve decompression surgery and was peaking in the mid-90s. Arm issues have kept him from pitching much at all in parts of three pro seasons. Baez and Fletcher were also big money high school draft picks who, it turns out, are 20-grade hit tool guys.

System Overview

The top of the Cardinals system is potent, thanks largely to their success during the truncated 2020 amateur draft. Their first three picks that year were Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn, and Tink Hence, all of whom have made strides during their development to solidify their status as Top 100 prospects. They also selected Alec Burleson, who has already reached the majors, and Ian Bedell, who has had a strong showing since his return from Tommy John. Indeed, a majority of the players on this list are homegrown, which speaks to the org’s sustained success at both drafting and development, and is also an indication that they haven’t had a need to trade for prospects in a while. Overall this system is average, maybe a tad below. It is flush with near-ready relief pitching, but extremely light on position players.

The Cardinals do a fair job cultivating international talent but aren’t as active in the Dominican Republic as most other orgs. Instead, they tend to sign more Venezuelan and Panamanian players (both catchers on this list and Edmundo Sosa are recent hits) and leave bonus pool space open for Cuban or Asian players who hit the market later in the process. There isn’t a ton to show for that approach in the system right now, but it’s how they came to sign Randy Arozarena, Adolis García, Johan Oviedo, and several others. St. Louis’ approach to signing pitchers in the international market seems to yield either little, undersized athletes or huge-framed howitzers with poor control.

St. Louis’ approach to pitching in the domestic amateur space has been to target guys who throw strikes, particularly if they have a low release point, even if they generate a sink/tail style fastball from said release point. This arguably limits the ceiling you can hit when you use high picks on the Michael McGreevys and Cooper Hjerpes of the world, but you end up with a lot of solid backend arms, depth teams need to contend. Plus, the Cardinals have shown they can develop velocity, it’s just been rare for them to do so with guys who already have a strike-throwing foundation, Gordon Graceffo aside. It’s more common with relievers like Ryan Loutos and Andre Granillo.





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sadtrombonemember
11 months ago

One thing that stands out to me here is that there are a lot of guys who were college pitchers with interesting peripherals. Hjerpe is the most extreme case of this; that fastball is very likely better than a 45, and if he really has 55 command he’s going to be quite good. But Austin Love, Brycen Mautz, Pete Hansen, and Max Rajcic all fit that description and must have been drafted in the last couple of years. Looking it up, it looks like they grabbed almost all of these guys last year. Hjerpe, Mautz, and Hansen were their first three picks; Rajcic came in #6. Love was drafted the year before.

It’s weird to look at a list and immediately recognize so many names in that category.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
11 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Yankees’ mentality over the last decade-plus is that it’s easier for kids to add velo than command.

Last edited 11 months ago by Cool Lester Smooth