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Tipsheet: Experts see great promise in top-end Cardinals prospects

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St. Louis Cardinals beat Washington Nationals 7-3

St. Louis Cardinals Nolan Gorman singles in the first inning of an exhibition game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals on Monday, March 21, 2022, at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla. Photo by Laurie Skrivan,

The Cardinals can indulge a nostalgic season with Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright taking one more tour together.

Why? Because while the franchise still lacks depth with their prospect pile, they have a higher-than-usual number of high-ceiling prospects for a team that avoids the tank-and-rebuild route. The franchise is in good shape despite its middle-of-the-pack overall prospect rankings.

Nolan Gorman didn’t make a great showing in the big league camp during this spring training, so he got booted back to the minor league camp. But he, Jordan Walker and Joshua Baez have huge power potential.

Shortstop Masyn Winn is an elite athlete with a live pitching arm. Elsewhere on the pitching front, lefty Matthew Liberatore could fill a rotation slot as needed this season and Zack Thompson could grow into a long relief role. Starter Michael McGreevy could move onto the radar screen this season and Tink Hence offers long-range potential.

Well-regarded catcher Ivan Herrera faces a critical developmental year while Molina plays one more season. His defensive skills are there, but can he hit enough to be a big league regular?

Then there are the lower-ceiling hitters who could fill big league roles: Juan Yepez, Alec Burleson and Brendan Donovan. These guys have all hit at the Triple-A level, so they will be on standby in case injuries hit. ranked the Cardinals’ prospects pile 16th in the big leagues and offered this assessment:

Walker’s ascent to become St. Louis’ top prospect gives the club yet another slugging-first third-base option behind Nolan Arenado. Gorman already moved to second base to get out of the All-Star’s shadow, and depending on how that transition goes, he could assume that role in the Majors quickly in 2022. Liberatore and No. 4 prospect Ivan Herrera aren’t far from forming a Major League battery themselves. Breakout performances from Juan Yepez, Brendan Donovan and Andre Pallante provide the system with some extra oomph.

Writing for, R.J. Anderson offered this assessment of Walker and Gorman:

(Walker) made his professional debut last season, hitting .317/.388/.548 with 14 home runs and 29 troubles (that's doubles plus triples). Walker has near-elite raw power and, in a promising development as it pertains to maximizing its utility, he started lifting the ball more frequently after being promoted to High-A. His strikeout rate also spiked following his move up the ladder, moving up from 17 to 27 percent, but it's easy to give him a pass on that for now because he won't celebrate his 20th birthday until May. Walker may in time have to move away from the hot corner, likely to another corner; it won't matter if he turns into a marquee slugger.

Gorman made two noteworthy changes last year, moving from third to second base on a nearly full-time basis and dropping his strikeout rate upon reaching Triple-A. Gorman's improved contact rate was accompanied by a change in his swing mechanics, as he lowered his hands to streamline his swing. He has well-above-average power, the kind you seldom see at the keystone; provided his defense is deemed tolerable (and he has improved), he should spend most of the 2022 season as the Cardinals' starting second baseman. 

ESPN ranks the Cardinals slightly better at 14th.Kirby McDaniel offer this on Winn and Baez:

Winn is an incredible talent -- a plus runner with plus bat speed who projects for plus raw power, can stick at shortstop, has solid feel for contact, at least a plus-plus arm -- and oh yeah, he also occasionally pitches, flashing two plus-plus pitches when he does so. He's still a bit raw at the plate, with below-average pitch selection, but the eye test points to a breakout coming at any time. The Cards' pitching development staff loves him on the mound -- they want him to be available to throw some innings, keeping him engaged on that side of the ball in case hitting doesn't work out. Baez is also exciting, with some of the best exit velos on Earth for an 18-year-old, but he also has clear explosion in his hands as well. 

The Post-Dispatch will offer expanded coverage of the Cardinals’ player development this season, so stay tuned.


Here are some odds and ends from the Cardinals perspective:

Joe Rivera, The Sporting News: “Devil Magic won't work with Jack Flaherty out to start the season. Same with Alex Reyes (labrum issue). And even though the NL Central isn't much improving around St. Louis, the Cards still didn't do enough to fix their rotation, which has had its share of injury issues in years past. The Cardinals still have a pretty good lineup, and the addition of the perpetually underrated Corey Dickerson should help lengthen it a bit. But no one will mistake them for world beaters this year (unless someone is sacrificing chickens in the underbelly of Busch Stadium).”

Jesse Yomtov, USA Today: “Milwaukee has made the playoffs four years in a row, a streak that should continue as the Cardinals didn't do much to close the gap. Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are the main attractions, but the Brewers' rotation strength lies in the depth with Freddy Peralta, Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer . . . It was a surprise to see the Cubs spend semi-big on Seiya Suzuki Marcus Stroman and Chicago enters the new season with most of the roster turned over . . . Cincinnati stayed in the hunt into September last season, but now they've traded Sonny Gray, Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez. They've still got Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle for now . . .  It should be a fourth consecutive last-place season for the Pirates, who hope Ke'Bryan Hayes bounces back and prospect Oneil Cruz brings some excitement.”

David Schoenfield,  “Not only did the Cardinals not make any major additions other than (Steven) Matz, you rarely heard them attached to any of the significant names in free agency or in trade rumors. Sure, they won 90 games in a bad division thanks to that 17-game winning streak in September, but this is a team that was 10th in runs and sixth in runs allowed. I get that there were no glaring holes here to fill, but the 40-year-old Wainwright and Matz are the only starters who made more than 15 starts a season ago. Cardinals fans will love the Pujols homecoming and he did crush lefties last season, so can help in a part-time DH role if he does that again. To top it off, the payroll sits almost $30 million below where it was last season.”

Mark Barry, Baseball Prospectus: “Rather than splurging this offseason on one of the marquee options at the six, the Cardinals opted to run in back with the vaunted combination of (Paul) DeJong and (Edmundo) Sosa, who collectively hit .229 last year, with 25 homers and eight steals in 728 plate appearances. DeJong would likely need to lose the job as opposed to win it, but based on his last couple seasons of work, that’s something he’s extremely capable of doing. I think Sosa is an okay option for batting average, but maybe not much else. For fantasy purposes, DeJong is the guy to bet on. There’s still pop in his bat, even if it hasn’t come with much contact lately. The 28-year-old chased 32 percent of pitches outside of the zone (the most since his rookie season) and unfortunately made more contact on those pitches last season than he did in 2020, which likely led to his extremely meager batting average. I think DeJong can rebound, if not to his 2019 heights, then to something a little like his 2021 season but with a better average.”

Anthony Castrovince, “You could probably guess that the great Liam Hendriks and Josh Hader are the top two relievers in WHIP over the last three seasons. But can you guess who ranked third? Well, OK, you could probably guess it’s (Giovanny) Gallegos, only because his name is highlighted here. But there’s no way you would have guessed it before reading this piece! It’s true, though. Gallegos’ 0.85 WHIP in that span is bested only by Hendriks’ 0.81 and Hader’s 0.83. With a 2.76 ERA in 169 1/3 innings over those three seasons, the right-handed Gallegos has been an integral piece of the Cards’ bullpen. He took over the closing duties in the second half last season and saved 14 games, and his expected opponent average (.206), strikeout rate (30.7%) and walk rate (6.5%) were all well above average.”


“I looked at the board and I was like, ‘Man, we have a sick lineup, a deep lineup.’” 

Shortstop Trevor Story, on playing for the Red Sox.


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