St. Louis Cardinals Top 36 Prospects

Jeff Hanisch-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 fourth 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 Masyn Winn 22.2 MLB SS 2024 55
2 Tink Hence 21.8 AA SP 2025 50
3 Victor Scott II 23.3 MLB CF 2024 50
4 Tekoah Roby 22.7 AA MIRP 2025 50
5 Cooper Hjerpe 23.2 A+ SP 2026 45
6 Leonardo Bernal 20.3 A+ C 2025 45
7 Thomas Saggese 22.1 AAA SS 2025 40+
8 Sem Robberse 22.6 AAA SP 2024 40+
9 Won-Bin Cho 20.7 A+ RF 2027 40+
10 Chase Davis 22.5 A CF 2026 40+
11 Quinn Mathews 23.6 A SP 2026 40+
12 Chen-Wei Lin 22.5 A SP 2028 40+
13 Jimmy Crooks 22.8 AAA C 2026 40+
14 Michael Siani 24.8 MLB CF 2024 40
15 César Prieto 25.0 AAA 2B 2024 40
16 Pedro Pagés 25.7 MLB C 2024 40
17 Lizandro Espinoza 21.5 A SS 2026 40
18 Ryan Fernandez 25.9 MLB SIRP 2024 40
19 Kyle Leahy 27.0 MLB MIRP 2024 40
20 Ryan Loutos 25.3 AAA SIRP 2024 40
21 Andre Granillo 24.0 AAA SIRP 2024 40
22 Zach Levenson 22.2 A+ LF 2027 40
23 Ian Bedell 24.7 AA SP 2025 40
24 Austin Love 25.3 A+ SP 2025 40
25 Gordon Graceffo 24.2 AAA SP 2024 35+
26 Michael McGreevy 23.9 AAA SP 2024 35+
27 Pete Hansen 23.8 AAA SP 2026 35+
28 Edwin Nuñez 22.5 AA SIRP 2025 35+
29 Connor Thomas 26.0 AAA MIRP 2024 35+
30 Zack Showalter 20.3 A SIRP 2027 35+
31 Brycen Mautz 22.8 A+ MIRP 2026 35+
32 Leonardo Taveras 25.7 AA SIRP 2025 35+
33 Randel Clemente 22.5 A SIRP 2026 35+
34 Gustavo Rodriguez 23.4 A+ SIRP 2025 35+
35 Branneli Franco 17.3 R SP 2030 35+
36 Reiner Lopez 18.1 R SP 2029 35+
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55 FV Prospects

1. Masyn Winn, SS

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Kingwood HS (TX) (STL)
Age 22.2 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 40/50 35/50 60/60 40/50 80

Once a two-way prospect and an incredible on-mound athlete, Winn has been developed solely as a position player in pro ball. The Cardinals have pushed him pretty aggressively and Winn began 2023 as a 21-year-old at Triple-A Memphis, where he slashed .288/.359/.474 and hit an uncharacteristically high 18 homers in 105 games. Winn made his big league debut late enough last year to retain prospect eligibility, which he has blown through in 2024, as he broke camp with the big league club. He graduates from rookie status playing about as well as expected. There will likely be meaningful power as Winn ages deeper into his 20s. For now, it’s impressive that a small 22-year-old is holding his own at this level. Winn’s hands on defense are only average, but he’s a premium athlete capable of making acrobatic plays, and he has an elite arm. Because of his rare level of athleticism, the ceiling on Winn’s power separated him from some of his contact-oriented middle infield peers on the Top 100. It will probably take a couple of years before he really peaks, but Winn projects to be a well-rounded player and a foundational piece in St. Louis.

50 FV Prospects

2. Tink Hence, SP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Watson Chapel HS (AR) (STL)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/55 60/70 40/45 93-96 / 99

Hence was picked up in the shortened 2020 draft and was one of the youngest players taken that year. After he was brought along very slowly at the onset of his pro career, Hence maintained mid-90s velocity across 40-inning workload increases in 2022 and 2023 before experiencing a slight downtick early in 2024. He worked 96 frames in 2023 and, assuming a similar increase, he’s on track to work a starter’s load of innings as soon as he hits the 40-man.

Tink’s changeup took a huge leap forward in 2023 and has not only become his best pitch, but one of the better changeups in the entire minor leagues. He’ll also flash the occasional plus breaking ball, but not consistently. Hence’s fastball wasn’t finishing quite as well at the end of 2023 as it was when he looked like a Bryce Miller clone with better secondary stuff. Ideally he’d continue to get physically stronger for the purposes of durability, an area where we think Hence has plateaued. He still looks skinny in 2024, and his fastball is missing bats at a shockingly low rate and has lost a tick compared to last year. He’s a good on-mound athlete, but he’s on the smaller side and added strength might help him have the stamina to finish his pitches more consistently. Hence has thrown strikes and projects to have a starter-quality mix. He hasn’t take the big leap we thought he might and continues to track more like a no. 4 starter.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2022 from West Virginia (STL)
Age 23.3 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 30/30 30/30 80/80 70/70 40

Scott put the nail in the coffin of FanGraphs’ previous skepticism during his 2023 six-week Fall League blitz, in which he was the fastest player and best defender in the league. Scott slashed .303/.369/.425 during the regular season and .286/.388/.417 in Arizona; he also stole 112 bases combined between the two. Injuries to Lars Nootbaar, Tommy Edman, and Dylan Carlson forced the Cardinals to skip Scott over Triple-A completely and put him on the 2024 Opening Day roster. He flopped in the majors for a couple of weeks before being sent back to Triple-A Memphis once Nootbaar was healthy and has slowly begun to get going on offense again. Scott is an 80 runner with fabulous feel for center field and double-killing gap-to-gap range. His defense alone would be enough to make him a major league role player. Scott is rail thin and not especially strong, but he makes an above-average rate of contact and has other soft skills like baserunning and bunting that act as the cherry on top of a catalytic offensive profile. He reached safely on 17 bunts last year, which is reminiscent of TJ Friedl, who had a lot of success in 2023 as a very similar player. Premium center field defense and speed give Scott a fourth outfielder’s floor, while his rate of contact and pesky bat-handling abilities elevate his profile into more of a regular role, especially if he can get stronger.

4. Tekoah Roby, MIRP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from Pine Forest HS (FL) (TEX)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 70/70 60/60 40/40 94-97 / 99

Roby was part of the Rangers’ killer 2020 draft class and was really breaking out before a shoulder injury shelved him in early June of 2023. He was traded to the Cardinals as part of the Jordan Montgomery deal while he was on the IL and returned to action late in the year (including a Fall League stint) working with four plus-flashing pitches. Roby is struggling in the early going of 2024, but his stuff looks the same. He sits 94-97 mph with sink, bends in one of the nastier curveballs in the minors, tilts in a similarly shaped slider in the mid-80s, and turns over a tailing low-80s changeup. He was also throwing a cutter early this season, but that appears to have been shelved. Roby looks like he spent the offseason improving his conditioning, but his delivery is still quite violent and tough to repeat. Mechanical violence and inconsistency lead to a relief projection here, but Roby has never shown elevated walk rates for an extended period of time as a starter; the relief forecast is entirely due to visual evaluation and projection. Two of his pitches have performed at a plus-plus level and Roby might throw harder in shorter bursts, so big time relief impact is likely even if he has to move.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Oregon State (STL)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/60 50/55 45/50 40/55 89-91 / 93

Hjerpe comes at hitters with a plus-plus deception, which allows every offering in his pitch mix to play up above its raw traits. Hjerpe utilizes a big hip turn in his delivery that helps him shield hitters’ sightline to the baseball. His crossfire stride direction and side-arm slot add to his funk. During the 2023 regular season, Hjerpe was limited to 41 innings with Peoria, where he fanned 29.8% of opposing batters but also carried an inflated 14.6% walk rate, before having surgery to repair a loose body in his left elbow. He was assigned to High-A again to start 2024 and continues to have a higher-than-anticipated walk rate.

Hjerpe has a unique fastball due to the angle he creates in his delivery, and it plays well above its 89-91 mph radar gun readings. He consistently attacks right-handed hitters in the upper quadrants and generates an above-average amount of swing-and-miss doing so. The headliner here, though, is his slider, which ranges between 75-79 mph and has late, sharp tilt that is capable of slipping under bats. He also has a similarly shaped cutter that is firmer (83-86 mph) and lacks the tilt; it’s an offering he uses more to stay off barrels than generate whiffs. Hjerpe also utilizes a changeup that has fade and a unique amount of depth for the low slot he throws from; he’ll throw the pitch to hitters of either handedness. The biggest concern here is that the control issues that plagued Hjerpe’s injury-shortened 2023 season have continued so far in 2024. His ability to remain a starter will hinge upon whether he’s able to regain the above-average feel for command he showed for much of his amateur career.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Panama (STL)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 45/45 25/40 40/30 40/55 55

Bernal is a strong, mature-framed switch-hitting catcher. Last year, he posted a 49-to-55 walk to strikeout ratio over 323 plate-appearances as a 19-year-old in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League while slashing .265/.381/.362. He has an all-fields, contact-oriented approach from both sides of the plate, producing louder batted balls from the left side, where he tends to take more aggressive, lift-driven hacks. Behind the dish, Bernal employs a one-knee-down approach and shows at least average lateral ball-blocking range, as well as advanced feel for stealing strikes in the shadow of the zone. He threw out 22% of basestealers in 2023 and consistently turns in average pop times (2.00) while flashing a tick better than that. Bernal’s defensive chops make him an easy evaluation as a long-term catcher and he’s a well-rounded player overall, albeit one who lacks a plus tool. He brings enough to the table to be a high-end second catcher for a championship-caliber club, or a starter for a non-contending team.

40+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 5th Round, 2020 from Carlsbad HS (CA) (TEX)
Age 22.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 45/50 35/45 45/40 40/45 50

Saggese is an undersized overachiever who won the 2023 Texas League MVP. He started that year with the Rangers’ Double-A squad, where he slashed .313/.379/.512 before he was dealt to the Cardinals as part of the return for Jordan Montgomery. The Cardinals have tried to shift Saggese up the defensive spectrum and he’s playing more shortstop for them at Memphis in 2024 than he ever did for the Rangers. He actually looks pretty good there despite lacking the high-end physical ability typically associated with that position (like arm strength), largely because his exchange is so clean and quick. Saggese’s feel to hit has been the lynchpin of his prospectdom since high school. As a smaller guy, it requires a ton of effort for him to swing hard, but he does a remarkable job of tracking the baseball despite this. His hit tool is probably going to play below Saggese’s bat control talent due to his tendency to expand the zone, and without that carrying quite as much weight as it has in the minors, Saggese is more likely to be a well-rounded utilityman than an everyday player.

8. Sem Robberse, SP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Netherlands (TOR)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
40/45 50/60 50/60 45/45 45/55 90-92 / 93

The Netherlands native was part of St. Louis’ return from Toronto in the Jordan Hicks trade and the Cardinals thought highly enough of him to add him to the 40-man roster during the winter. Robberse is coming off a season that saw him tally 124 innings of work between Double- and Triple-A and fan 24.1% of batters on his way to a 4.28 ERA as a 21-year-old.

He has a starter-like delivery that he’s able to repeat, and despite his long arm circle, which has a significant hook present in its path, he does a good job of being on time upon foot strike. Robberse’s fastball velocity has taken a small step backwards, now sitting 90-92 mph and touching 93 mph, and his use of his four-seamer has dropped accordingly. The fastball also lacks significant life, so he needs to command it. His slider projects to be a plus offering. It features sharp horizontal and vertical break, and spins between 2700-2800 rpm; Robberse shows advanced feel for peppering the glove-side part of the plate with it. There’s limited velocity separation between his fastball and his changeup (85-89 mph), but the changeup fades as it’s approaching the zone and the ones that also flash depth tend to generate the most whiffs. His cutter (87-90 mph) is a bit light on sharpness and mostly serves to keep hitters off of his four-seamer. Robberse has a deep enough mix and more than enough command to profile as a starter, but his fastball velocity will need to take a sizable step forward in order for him to exceed a no. 5 starter projection.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from South Korea (STL)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 50/60 35/55 50/50 35/60 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 has medium size, but he has a great frame and notable room for added strength. As a 19-year-old in the Florida State League in 2023, he slashed .270/.376/.389 and went 32-43 in stolen base attempts — and remember, the FSL tends to suppress slugging.

Cho utilizes an all-fields approach and is producing a lot of hard contact to the opposite field at present. Although he hasn’t been able to do it consistently, he will show the ability to turn on a baseball and produce above-average raw juice to his pull side. It’s average bat speed and a path that stays in the zone for an extended period while having natural loft throughout the swing. Cho does have a tendency to go through stretches where he becomes overly top-hand dominant, which results in a lot of lazy grounders to the right side of the infield against softer secondary pitches. He has also continued to show he’s vulnerable to expanding the zone and chasing spin, especially against left-handed pitchers.

Defensively, Cho saw time at all three outfield spots in 2023, but he’s been roaming center field every day for Peoria so far this season. He’s an average runner, but his range in center plays at a fringe-average level due to his tendency not to take clean, efficient routes to balls in either gap. He plays with big effort, and his field awareness and decision-making with the baseball are advanced. There’s a chance Cho is a corner platoon outfielder with a plus glove, like Red Sox rookie Wilyer Abreu has been.

10. Chase Davis, CF

Drafted: 1st Round, 2023 from Arizona (STL)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 216 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 55/60 30/45 50/50 35/45 55

Davis, the 21st overall selection in the 2023 draft, was a career .319/.444/.644 hitter at U of A and drew many swing comparisons to Carlos González. While he hasn’t completely overhauled his swing, so far in 2024 his hacks have lacked the same aggressive intent as the ones that produced a .742 slugging percentage in Tucson. He has only 15 extra-base hits (two home runs) in his 245 professional plate-appearances as of this writing, while striking out 28% of the time at Low-A Palm Beach. Davis’ pro swing is slightly more compact with a bit less loft in the path compared to the swing we saw from him in his last year at Arizona, and it’s shocking this guy isn’t hitting in the FSL, which should be beneath an experienced college hitter.

Davis is in the middle of a position shift. He only played left field as a junior but has played a mix of center and left in pro ball. Team sources see him profiling in the corner outfield spots due to his fringe-average range in center. There isn’t much Davis center field defense on tape because he’s so new to the position. From the Cardinals’ perspective, there’s incentive to develop Davis in center field for as long as possible to raise the overall floor of his profile, especially if the bat continues to sputter. It’s far too early to write Davis off, but there’s undoubtedly reason for concern about his offense because of how he’s performing and the recent track record of Pac-12 hitters in pro ball.

11. Quinn Mathews, SP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2023 from Stanford (STL)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 45/50 40/45 60/65 40/50 92-96 / 97

The Cardinals gave Mathews $600,000 as a senior sign in the fourth round of the 2023 Draft after he threw 124.2 innings as Stanford’s Friday night starter. He struck out 158 batters and, infamous 2023 postseason pitch counts aside, he was viewed as a very safe changeup-oriented spot starter prospect with velocity that was well below average.

Because of his heavy college workload, Mathews didn’t pitch for a St. Louis affiliate after the draft. He has come out of the gates this season looking as sharp as any pitcher in the lower levels of the minors, and as of list publication, he is among the minor league strikeout and strikeout rate leaders. Mathews has seen a velocity bump on his fastball so far this season. He sat in the low 90s as a senior but has been sitting 92-96 mph and touching 97 mph through his first six starts of 2024, and the offering has consistently showed above-average carry through the zone, which has been effective at generating whiffs. He reliably throws his fastball for strikes, but it’s a control-over-command approach at present, perhaps evidence that Matthews is throwing with greater effort than in college. Mathews’ changeup is a legit bat-missing offering. It plays very well off his fastball, and his solid arm speed sells the pitch before creating late bottom action on it, which causes it to frequently disappear under bats. He also has two breaking balls; the slider is the sharper of the two, while the curveball projects to be more of a get-me-over strike stealer. Maintaining his recent velocity spike will be crucial in achieving his projected ceiling of a good team’s no. 4/5 starter.

12. Chen-Wei Lin, SP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Taiwan (STL)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Splitter Command Sits/Tops
60/70 45/55 35/55 50/60 30/45 94-99 / 100

Lin was a notable Taiwanese college pitcher who gained stateside exposure via the Northwoods and MLB Draft Leagues before he signed with the Cardinals for $500,000. His skyscraping, 6-foot-7 frame has huge projection and so does his stuff. Lin only threw 16.1 innings between the complex and A-ball in 2023, showing a glimpse of both his strikeout potential (26.3% K) and his volatile control (15% BB). In the early goings of the 2024 season, Lin has shown an electric four-seam fastball that ranges between 94-99 mph and touched triple digits, and has obvious carrying action that is capable of missing bats in the zone. He also mixes in a 91-95 mph sinker that has more horizontal action. His slider doesn’t have a huge spin rate, regularly registering under 2,000 rpm, but when he breaks off a good one, it has bat-missing depth and certainly isn’t light on teeth. His changeup also varies greatly in quality from pitch-to-pitch. It will show substantial fade at its best and is an offering he’s shown he’ll use against both left-handed and right-handed hitters. Lin’s delivery makes hitters uncomfortable (some of that is because his command is somewhat erratic) and will probably evolve as he grows into his body. His long-term role will be defined by the way the many magmatic aspects of his profile progress over the next few years, especially his command. Lin has such an exciting talent foundation that even though he is quite raw, he’s given a priority grade here.

13. Jimmy Crooks, C

Drafted: 4th Round, 2022 from Oklahoma (STL)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 50/50 30/40 35/30 45/55 60

Crooks was in the “Defense Might Carry Them” bucket at the bottom of last year’s list, where it was noted that if he could become a 50 or better defender, he’d have a place on a 40-man roster in the future. He’s well on pace to achieve that benchmark. Crooks is a bottom-up receiver who presents pitches well. His above-average arm nabbed 27% of baserunners in 2023 and he’s done so at a 38% clip in Double-A so far this season. Offensively, he hits out of an upright, open stance. His bat path is on the flatter side of the spectrum and he uses it to spray contact to all-fields. His power output shows up more in the form of doubles rather than over-the-wall juice, and he’ll take his free-passes (10.9% walk rate in 2023). Crooks projects to be a quality, defensive-oriented backup catcher in the near future.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from William Penn Charter HS (PA) (CIN)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 40/40 30/30 60/60 60/60 60

Siani has a terrific collection of soft skills that make him a high-probability glove-first bench outfielder. He’s fast, and his defensive instincts and routes are excellent. On offense, he has a great idea of the strike zone and creates a lot of infield action (oppo liner pokes and slaps, high infield chops, some bunts), but he doesn’t do enough to be considered a fourth outfielder or platoon option. Though it’s not likely to happen via his offense, there are lots of ways Siani can impact a game. He’s been in the big leagues all year as St. Louis’ fifth outfielder, which is his evaluation here.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Cuba (BAL)
Age 25.0 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/60 40/40 30/35 40/40 30/40 40

While playing pro ball in Cuba, Prieto broke Kendrys Morales‘ rookie hits record, then broke the Serie Nacional’s hit streak record (40 games) in 2020 while striking out just six times in 250 plate appearances. The rate of player defections from Cuba has significantly diluted the quality of pitching in pro ball down there, so it was difficult to gauge Prieto’s hit tool with precision. He defected from the Cuban National Team not long after arriving in Miami for an Olympic qualifier in May of 2021 (there’s a riveting Sports Illustrated story that details his “extraction”), and he signed a $650,000 deal with the Orioles at the beginning of the 2022 international signing period. The Cardinals picked up Prieto when they traded Jack Flaherty to Baltimore last year and he’s continued to put his plus hit tool on display.

In 2023, he had a total of 540 plate appearances between Double- and Triple-A and posted a .323/.367/.446 slash line while limiting his strikeout rate to 9.3%, and he’s off to a hot start to 2024 as well. Prieto’s hit tool almost completely defines his offensive output, though. He draws a below-average number of walks — he had a 5.6% walk rate last season and a 4.7% rate for his career — and has below-average game power at best. He’s an average defender at both second base and the hot corner, but he isn’t capable of handling shortstop in a way that would facilitate more of a super-infield utility role. Prieto continues to track as an Eric Sogard type who is a solid bench player for a competitive club.

16. Pedro Pagés, C

Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Florida Atlantic (STL)
Age 25.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 234 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 45/45 40/40 20/20 50/50 60

Aside from the occasional blockable pitch that scoots away from him, Pagés is a very sure-handed and stable backup 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. He’s often late on fastballs and sprays them to the opposite field, and Pagés’ best contact comes when he gets a breaking ball that catches enough of the plate for him to hook it into the left field corner. It’s a low-impact approach, but enough for Pagés to project as a big league-ready backup catcher. He’s locked into that role right now due to the gruesome Willson Contreras injury.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (STL)
Age 21.5 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

Espinoza’s path to the majors remains almost solely reliant on his defensive chops. Written up here last year as a plus future shortstop defender, he’s gotten his first taste of playing the outfield in 2024, having appeared in eight games in center field as of this writing. His development in center could be slow because Chase Davis is getting most of the reps at that position in Palm Beach right now, but Espinoza’s shortstop defense might get him to St. Louis on its own. He has above-average body control, moves well enough laterally, and has a quick release that allows his arm to play above it’s raw strength. 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. He has less bat speed and more swing-and-miss (25% strikeout rate in his career) than is typical for an impact offensive player. Espinoza is a blast to watch field groundballs and projects to be a defensive Swiss Army Knife off of the bench.

18. Ryan Fernandez, SIRP

Drafted: 23th Round, 2018 from Hillsborough CC (FL) (BOS)
Age 25.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 60/60 50/50 55/60 94-96 / 98

The first pure relief prospect selected in the 2023 Rule 5 Draft (from Boston), Fernandez is a rock solid middle reliever who made the Cardinals out of camp and has been a stellar member of their bullpen so far in 2024. His four-seamer sits 94-96 mph and touches 97. To call his slider and cutter secondary pitches would be misleading, as he’s throws them a combined two-thirds of the time. Fernandez’s use of his gyroscopic slider dipped in 2023, but when he did throw it, it earned him whiffs at a 63% clip (73% at Triple-A). That kind of bat-missing ability is, ironically, nothing to shake a stick at, and it’s generating a 21% swinging strike rate so far against big league hitters. Neither of his pitches are playing like plus weapons right now, but Fernandez’s consistency might be an eventual path to a more meaningful role.

19. Kyle Leahy, MIRP

Drafted: 17th Round, 2018 from Colorado Mesa Univ. (STL)
Age 27.0 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/50 45/45 45/55 55/55 45/45 94-97 / 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 permanently moved to the bullpen in 2023, sustained the velo bump, and reached St. Louis. He’s thrown 11.1 big league innings as of list publication.

Leahy has a tall, lean frame and throws out of a high three-quarters arm slot with a five-pitch mix. He generates plus-plus extension (7.3 feet), but it doesn’t result in plus-plus life, and overall, his heater plays as an average offering that sits 94-97 mph and will touch 98 mph. Leahy’s cutter/slider is his sharpest, most consistent offering. It’s a firm breaker that ranges between 88-91 mph and features late two-plane break that he bends down and away to righties. He’ll also throw a sweeping slider that is lighter on velocity (83-86 mph) and has lesser spin quality. His curveball is a 12-to-6er and will also show tight spin, but it’s break begins much earlier than his slider and his feel for landing it in the zone is inferior. Leahy will also mix in a rarely used power changeup (88-91 mph) that, at its best, has late dive to it. You can see why the Cardinals tried to develop him as a starter, and Leahy has a deep enough mix to keep batters of either handedness in check. He lacks late-inning stuff, but he should be a quality reliever who can handle multiple lower-leverage frames at a time.

20. Ryan Loutos, SIRP

Undrafted Free Agent, 2021 (STL)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/45 45/50 50/50 93-96 / 98

Loutos went undrafted out of Division-III Washington University in 2021, but signed with the Cardinals that year 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, Loutos unearthed six ticks on his fastball. His sinker is unique in that he throws from a high slot, yet he’s still able to produce above-average tail and sinking action on a two-seamer that sits 93-96 mph and will touch 98 mph. It’s the biggest reason he’s only allowed 12 home runs over his 173-inning professional career so far. Loutos also has a 12-to-6 curveball, and he likes to vary the amount of depth the breaker has while consistently producing solid snap to it. Loutos’ cutter plays between 86-88 mph and has short, quick action. It’s more of an average offering he can use to provide a different look to hitters and stay off of barrels than one that generates big whiff rates. He also recently added a new split-change (it might be splinker) that comes in between 89-91 mph. He’s very rarely thrown it in games, but the few that he has shown have enough promise to believe that it will be another usable offering. Loutos’ arsenal is one that will keep the ball in the ballpark, but his strike-throwing ability gets volatile often enough that he’ll be best utilized in a single-inning middle-relief role.

21. Andre Granillo, SIRP

Drafted: 14th Round, 2021 from UC Riverside (STL)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
50/50 60/60 35/40 92-96 / 98

Granillo’s entire three-year college career at UC Riverside amounted to just 55.2 innings thanks to the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and him making just eight relief appearances in 2021 as a redshirt sophomore. He was sitting 88-91 mph at the time, but in 2022, Granillo had a six-tick velocity spike that he has sustained as a pro. He is a strong, broad-framed right-hander who attacks hitters from a high arm slot using mostly his fastball/slider combo (he’ll mix in a changeup against lefties on occasion). He spent the bulk of 2023 pitching at Double-A Springfield before throwing his final 13.1 frames in Memphis, fanning 30.1% of batters and only allowing 52 hits over his 68-plus innings. Granillo’s fastball sits between 92-96 and lives in the upper quadrant of the zone where it plays best, though it’s a very hittable offering when it’s not elevated and Granillo’s command is far from tight. The headliner here is his two-plane slider, which has late enough break to be an effective chase pitch, and Granillo also has average feel for landing it in the zone. He almost exclusively throws his changeup to lefties, and the offering’s fade and sinking action is able to run away from their bats. Granillo has short-burst middle-relief role written all over him, and is a likely 40-man add post-2024 if he can sustain his current level of performance.

22. Zach Levenson, LF

Drafted: 5th Round, 2023 from Miami (STL)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 211 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 40/55 45/45 45/45 45

Levenson is a bat-strength oriented hitting prospect with significant pull-and-lift tendencies that serve his power-oriented approach. He was the Cardinals’ fifth round pick in the 2023 Draft out of Miami and got 139 plate-appearances in the Florida State League last season, slashing .268/.331/.480 with a 12-to-32 walk to strikeout ratio. He has solid bat speed, but the limited adjustability in his path hinders his hit tool. The way Levenson’s hands work in the box creates a bat path visually similar to Giancarlo Stanton’s. Defensively, Levenson has seen time at all three outfield positions in his brief pro career, but his fringy speed and range profile far better in an outfield corner than in the middle of the diamond. Levenson’s profile is driven by his power output. He’ll be a nice part-time corner outfield bat.

23. Ian Bedell, SP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Missouri (STL)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 214 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/55 45/50 45/55 91-94 / 95

After missing the majority of 2022 due to Tommy John, Bedell posted a 2.44 ERA and struck out 106 batters against just 34 walks as a 23-year-old in the Midwest League. He was available to the 29 other clubs during the most recent Rule 5 Draft but went unselected. He was the Cardinals’ fourth round selection out of Mizzou in 2020 and has a mature, medium build with limited projection.

Bedell’s fastball sits 91-94 mph and shows above-average carry along with running action that plays best on the top rail of the zone, which is where he has the best feel for locating his heater. Bedell’s curveball, which used to be his go-to offering, has morphed into a slider that will vary between a late-tilting, two-plane breaker and a downer, both of which routinely have above-average bite to them. Bedell is able to locate down and away to righties, but his feel for the other quadrants of the zone is quite inconsistent at present. His best changeups have pronounced fade and sink, while others will show the same action but to a far lesser degree; it projects to be an average pitch for him. Bedell projects in a long-relief/spot-starter role in the near future, with his comp being former Cardinal Matt Bowman.

24. Austin Love, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from North Carolina (STL)
Age 25.3 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

Prior to a 2023 Tommy John, Love had shown plus velocity, strikes, and a great curveball across 125.2 innings. He 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 two-planed, mid-80s dagger is very consistent. He 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 it flashes bat-missing tumble and sink. It will at least give him a third distinct pitch, something that moves to his arm-side and dives enough to induce groundballs. 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. The timing of his surgery makes Love a 2024 Arizona Fall League candidate.

35+ FV Prospects

25. Gordon Graceffo, SP

Drafted: 5th Round, 2021 from Villanova (STL)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/50 60/60 45/45 40/40 50/55 92-97 / 99

Graceffo had an abbreviated 2023 season that covered 86 total frames after missing over a month while battling shoulder inflammation. Last season, in his first taste of Triple-A, Graceffo posted a 20.9% strikeout rate while also carrying by far the highest walk rate of his career at 11.6% and allowed a hit per inning. So far in 2024, Graceffo’s fastball is sitting 90-95 mph (way down from peak), but the offering plays lighter than that due to a lack of movement or outlier life; it’s more reliant on being precisely located to be effective, which he’s been unable to consistently do at Triple-A. Graceffo’s slider continues to be his most effective offering due to its downer shape and his advanced feel for locating it. His other breaker is a curveball with big depth and 12-to-6 shape that tends to come out of his hand high, which makes it easier for hitters to identify, but its pure movement is pretty solid. He also keeps a rarely utilized changeup in his back pocket. It has fade, but the action begins almost right out of his hand and is another pitch hitters don’t seem to have any issues picking up early. In order to have a chance to crack a rotation spot in the future, Graceffo will need his command to return to its above-average form. It’s also feasible his peak velo could return if he were shifted into a short relief role.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from UC Santa Barbara (STL)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/60 45/50 40/50 40/45 55/60 91-94 / 95

McGreevy’s game revolves around throwing the kitchen sink at hitters to keep them off balance and produce weak contact. He throws a sinker and a four-seam fastball. The sinker features above-average tail and sinking action down in the zone, and he utilizes the underwhelming four-seamer on the top rail. The lack of life and movement on the four-seamer gives McGreevy little margin for error with its location. The slider is still McGreevy’s bread and butter. When it’s at its best, it shows sharp two-plane action, but he hasn’t yet shed his tendency to get on the side of it, where it turns into a far more lateral-based breaker without snappy depth to it. His curveball is a deep vertical breaker that lacks the sharp, late break his slider will produce, but it offers a vastly different shape and velocity range from his other offerings. McGreevy’s changeup has minimal velocity separation from his heaters at 84-88 mph, but his ability to mirror his fastball arm speed makes it a tough pitch for hitters to identify out of the hand early despite it’s tendency to lack notable action. The year, he has also added a cutter to his repertoire that ranges from 86-90 mph and has short, subtle action that he can tunnel off of his fastballs and slider to give hitters a different and unexpected look on occasion. McGreevy has a track record of outperforming his raw stuff and looks best suited for a long-relief/emergency starter role long-term.

27. Pete Hansen, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2022 from Texas (STL)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
30/30 50/55 45/45 40/50 45/55 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. He spent all of 2023 in the rotation for Palm Beach, where he covered 112.2 innings and struck out 27.1% of hitters while walking 8.4% on his way to a 3.12 ERA. He repeats his fluid, easy delivery consistently, but he lacks any sort of outlier deception to help his finesse-based mix play up a bit more. He continues to work with both a sinker and four-seamer, with the former showing average tail while the latter flashs cutting action, but ultimately he has to be very fine with his command in order to have sustained success with either. When he needs to generate whiffs, he turns to his slider and its sharp, two-plane shape. His curveball is a much deeper breaking ball, with both 12-to-6 and 1-to-7 shape, a get-me-over offering. Hansen also has a changeup that he throws with quality arm speed. It has depth to it, but its movement is more gradual than it is sudden. He’ll need to exceed his above-average command projection in order to be a fixture in any rotation, and looks poised to be a touch-and-feel, up/down starter.

28. Edwin Nuñez, SIRP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (STL)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 35/50 40/55 20/30 96-98 / 99

Nuñez, 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 was remedied in 2023 when Nuñez suddenly looked much more svelte and his delivery became somewhat more consistent. He posted a 65-to-30 strikeout to walk ratio over 63.2 innings between Low- and High-A, as Nuñez’s heater averaged 96. He’s struggling to miss bats at Springfield early in 2024, but his fastball is capable of overwhelming hitters when it’s in the zone thanks to its plus riding action. Between his arm quickness and Nuñez’s projectable frame, he’s a candidate to have top-shelf velocity in the near future. He lacks feel for both of his secondary pitches, but he’ll tease you enough to believe both have a real chance at being effective offerings if he can ever learn to harness them. Right now, he has an up/down profile worth keeping tabs on, but he has a higher ceiling than most in this bucket because of the raw stuff.

29. Connor Thomas, MIRP

Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Georgia Tech (STL)
Age 26.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
30/30 55/55 45/45 55/55 65/65 87-91 / 92

There was a point when Thomas looked like a lock to be a backend starter, but he has been pitching out of the Memphis bullpen full-time so far this season, sometimes covering multiple innings at a time. Thomas throws both a sinker and four-seamer that sit between 88-91 mph. Neither pitch has plus movement or life, so he fully depends on his impressive command for their effectiveness. His slider has above-average tightness (2800 rpm) and two-plane shape, though at times he’ll give it more of a slurvey path to give it a different look. His cutter also has sharp action and features less of a vertical plane than the slider does. He primarily throws his changeup to righties and it will often flash average, but it’s also an offering that has a tendency to lack action altogether and turn into a very hittable pitch. He’ll need to generate depth on it more consistently in order for it to be an average weapon for him. Thomas is a fit as an up/down bulk-relief arm.

30. Zack Showalter, SIRP

Drafted: 11th Round, 2022 from Wesley Chapel HS (FL) (BAL)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
40/55 50/60 30/40 90-93 / 94

Showalter was part of the return for Jack Flaherty. He pitches heavily off of a sinker/four-seam combo that sits 90-93 mph and occasionally touches a tick or two above that. The offering plays drastically above the velocity, though, due to his upshot angle and his ability to hide the ball for an extended period of time thanks to his quick, compact arm action. The breaking ball is a bender that will regularly show average tightness, but it’s also susceptible to backing up on him and losing the authority in the spin. Still, it has big potential movement and is a favorite of folks who take a data-oriented approach to scouting. He projects to be a single-inning middle-relief type whose deception allows his stuff to punch far above its weight.

31. Brycen Mautz, MIRP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from San Diego (STL)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
35/40 55/60 40/45 40/45 35/55 89-93 / 94

Mautz’s command still has yet to return to the form we saw in his draft year at the University of San Diego. Last year at Palm Beach, he walked 9.9% of batters, struck out 25.2%, and posted a 3.98 ERA over his 104 frames. He throws both a sinker and a four-seamer that sit 89-93 mph, and both have average movement in their respective directions. Mautz’s best pitch continues to be his slider, which typically comes in at 79-82 mph and has sweeping horizontal movement and drastic depth that is particularly tough on lefties. The other breaking ball in Mautz’s arsenal is a deep, 1-to-7 curveball, but he throws it from a high three-quarters arm slot while releasing all his other pitches from a lower release point, and it only projects as a show-me offering. He’ll also occasionally mix in a changeup that he’s able to maintain his fastball arm speed on; it has a minimal velocity separation from his fastballs and shows minimal movement more times than not. Command was integral to Mautz’s pre-draft projection and he’ll need it to out-pitch his current level of performance and have a chance of holding down a long-relief role.

32. Leonardo Taveras, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (STL)
Age 25.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
65/70 60/60 30/30 95-98 / 100

Taveras has a lean, athletic, high-waisted build and throws from a high three-quarters slot. His 2023 season was off to a very optimistic start before ending after only 20.1 innings when he tested positive for Clomiphene, a banned PED, and was slapped with an 80-game suspension. So far in 2024, he’s continued his strikeout- and walk-heavy performance at Double-A Springfield. His fastball sits between 95-99 mph and will touch triple digits on occasion. His enormous frame creates downhill angle and he generates solid backspin on his four-seamer, which produces additional carry through the zone. His slider has huge depth, will also flash a horizontal plane on occasion, and has powerful bite. Taveras’ arm is consistently late and he has a pronounced head whack prior to release; both traits greatly hinder his ability to consistently be in the zone with either offering. Taveras has loud enough stuff to miss bats at a high rate but ultimately won’t see consistent work in leverage situations due to his unstable strike-throwing ability.

33. Randel Clemente, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (STL)
Age 22.5 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 a couple of years ago, Clemente one of many hard-throwing righties in this system with a Division-I quarterback’s frame. He’s sustaining 96-99 mph fastballs early in 2024, but Clemente has not made any progress as a strike-thrower and he badly needs to if he’s going to be a big leaguer at all. He has the potential for a plus-plus sinker and plus slider if he can hone his control as he climbs the minors, but right now, he’s an arm strength dev project in A-ball.

34. Gustavo Rodriguez, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (STL)
Age 23.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 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

Rodriguez’s development is still in a holding pattern as he struggles to find release consistency while also showing good looking stuff. At a broad-shouldered, high-waisted 6-foot-3, Rodriguez is already bumping 99 mph at peak and sitting 96-98. 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.

35. Branneli Franco, SP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2024 from Dominican Republic (STL)
Age 17.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 187 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
40/60 40/45 20/45 90-92 / 93

Franco is perhaps the most powerful on-mound athlete from the 2024 international class and has some of the best present velocity. He has an ideal pitcher’s frame and might throw very hard at maturity. The Cardinals, who signed Franco for about $800,000, will be tasked with helping him develop his breaking ball, which is pedestrian at present.

36. Reiner Lopez, SP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Venezuela (STL)
Age 18.1 Height 6′ 8″ Weight 196 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
35/60 40/55 20/50 86-90 / 93

Signed for $500,000 in 2023, 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 body 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 his arm strength that should be obvious. The rest needs to be developed. Usually prospects who receive this kind of bonus and are going to take several years to develop end up in the Honorable Mention section, but the amount of physical projection here is so extreme that this grade accounts for Lopez’s ceiling more than we would with a more typical pitching prospect this age, especially one who hasn’t thrown an official pro inning yet.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Developmental Relievers
Ettore Giulianelli, RHP
Jovi Galvez, RHP
Jose Suriel, RHP
Augusto Calderon, RHP

Giulianelli is a 21-year-old Italian righty whose extreme overhand slot is akin to Oliver Drake’s. He is so over the top of the ball that he can create arm-side action on his curveball. He could have enough of a fastball/curveball combo to make the big leagues if he can hone his control. Galvez, Suriel, and Calderon were 2023 DSL or A-ball pitchers with mid-90s or better arm strength and poor feel for location.

High-Variance Youngsters
Ronny Oliver, RHP
Sammy Hernandez, C
Jonathan Mejia, SS

Oliver is a projectable pitcher on the Jupiter complex with a very athletic drop-and-drive delivery. His rise/run, low-90s fastball and natural sweeping breaker give him a pitch mix similar to a junior college prospect who goes in the fourth round of the draft or so. Hernandez is a raw, athletic catcher who came back from Toronto in the Génesis Cabrera trade last year. He needs to develop as a defender (his crouch is still comically high) and improve his plate discipline, but he has rare bat speed for a catcher. Mejia was once a prominent amateur prospect, but his 2023 was so bad that he needs a rebound year to have trade value (he’s off to a good start).

Double-A Depth
Nathan Church, OF
Jeremy Rivas, SS
Max Rajcic, RHP
Adam Kloffenstein, RHP

Church is a light-hitting outfielder with great feel for contact who could be a platoon guy if his hit tool really maxes out. Rivas, 21, is a slow-twitch Double-A infielder with smooth actions who early in 2024 is putting up an average line for the first time in his career. Rajcic (sitting 93, has a pretty good curveball) and Kloffenstein (sinkerballer) are depth starter types.

Big Power, Limited Profile
William Sullivan, 1B
Chandler Redmond, DH

Both players here have substantial power but are bottom-of-the-spectrum defenders with below-average hit tools. Sullivan’s TrackMan data from 2023 was pretty nutty, but his low-ball swing has been exposed early in 2024. Redmond, 27, has a career .481 SLG, but he’s back at Double-A, where he first played in 2021.

Travis Honeyman, OF
Drew Rom LHP
Wilking Rodríguez, RHP

Honeyman, St. Louis’ 2023 third rounder, has yet to play a pro game due to multiple injuries. There were already some reasons to be skeptical of his offensive performance (he was easily tied up inside in college), and he hasn’t had a chance to alleviate that skepticism yet. Rom has been written up as a backend/depth starter for a while and finally made his big league debut in 2023, but shoulder surgery has him shelved in 2024. Rodríguez, 34 (not a typo), is recovering from a shoulder surgery of his own. He’s old enough to have signed with the Devil Rays back when they were still called that, a time so distant that the transactions on Rodríguez’s MiLB player page don’t go back far enough to include his signing date. Prior to signing with St. Louis, Rodríguez last pitched in affiliated ball in 2015 with the Yankees before he began touring foreign pro leagues. His velocity exploded across about a 10 month window and he was sitting 97-plus when he was last healthy.

System Overview

This is a below-average system that is light on high-upside players. It has slightly below-average overall depth and is very imbalanced, with many more pitching prospects than position players. Outside of Hence and Roby at the top end of this list, the Cardinals have an abundance of arms who fit the “high-floor/low-ceiling” archetype. A common theme among a lot of the pitchers in this system is that they have deeper than usual arsenals along with a mix of feel and/or deception, and St. Louis also has a lot of soft-tossers who haven’t been able to find more velocity in pro ball.

Despite the relative lack of hitters here, the Cardinals system is fairly strong up the middle, with four of their five highest-rated position players playing either catcher, shortstop, or center field. Both Masyn Winn and Victor Scott II have already gotten their first taste of the majors, and while that has obviously come with varying degrees of success so far, both of them are safe bets to stay at premium positions long-term and have exciting offensive profiles in their own distinct ways. There are some exciting hitters at the lower levels of the minors, like Leonardo Bernal and Won-Bin Cho, who have really taken developmental steps forward with their bats recently, as well as players with defense-driven profiles, like Jimmy Crooks and Lizandro Espinoza, who will undoubtedly provide run-prevention value at the highest level.

While it’s still too soon to write off Chase Davis, the Cardinals’ 2023 first round pick, their last three top picks (Davis, Cooper Hjerpe, and Michael McGreevy) are all tracking to be sub-50 FV players. Much of the depth in this system can be attributed to recent trade returns, solid finds in the middle-to-late rounds by their amateur scouting staff, and relatively low-cost signings in the international market. The Cardinals have tended to gravitate toward amateur pitchers who throw strikes rather than ones who are hard throwers, and many of their arms have fastball shapes that cause their heaters to play down. There are other teams (like the Mariners) that take athletic young strike-throwers and then get them to throw harder, but that hasn’t happened in St. Louis.

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1 month ago

There are a number of guys here whose actual performance is so out of line with the scouting report that I don’t know what happened or whether to believe the performance vs. scouting report. Victor Scott II is listed as a 70 defender at present, but he wasn’t especially good in his brief stint in the majors by any metric at all (by some he was simply bad). Cooper Hjerpe’s walk rate is just a lot higher than it “should” be given everything in the scouting report (something the report alludes to). Both of those guys look like they have major bust risk.

The good news is that Tink Hence looks like a starter, even if he’s not likely to be a playoff-worthy one, and Winn looks like a credible major leaguer. You could do worse.

1 month ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I think believe the scouting report when it comes to Scott. He’s been fantastic in the field at every stop until this April. His metrics also got much worse the more he struggled at the plate, so I sort of assume he was taking that out to center with him. With Hjerpe, he had a ~5% walk rate his final year at Oregon State, so he’s shown command in the past, but I’d agree that the jump to pro ball seems to have had a deleterious effect on that tool.

1 month ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I’m willing to not condemn Scott II over his first 158 innings of OF defense in MLB (after skipping AAA). Not to mention defensive metrics not exactly reliable in a sample size that miniscule.

1 month ago
Reply to  jreyn24

I’m just saying–it is really hard to grade defense. Victor Robles was supposed to be a 70 fielder. Harrison Bader graded out as a 55.

1 month ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Between Scott (70 grade on fielding) and Siani (60), Siani looked much better between the two on the eye test and numbers. With Siani’s defensive numbers this season, I was a little surprised to see him at 60 and not 70 as he has looked elite defensively and the numbers back it up.

1 month ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Something I’ve learned to ignore is a lot of the reporting on minor league defense. So many “great” gloves turn out to be mediocre and so many guys who by scouting reports are mediocre turn out to be excellent (your example of Bader is a good illustration).

Way more variance on defense than on hitting. I suspect judging a player’s defense based on scouting him for a few games leads to very distorted reports that overvalue small sample size.

casey jmember
1 month ago
Reply to  anthonydw

Yes to this. I remember reading questions about Nolan Arenado’s D when he was in the minors, and there are countless other examples. While players do improve, it would have been tough to miss Nolan’s skill level and potential as a defender. Sometimes it’s obvious upon first look at a player once he reaches the big leagues, which lays it upon the quality of the judgment of the person scouting.