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Vote on the Cardinals next best prospect - 2024

Also vote on whether or not Masyn Winn is the #1 prospect or not a prospect at all.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Unbeknownst to me when I started the voting process early for the VEB top prospects was the fact that the next post would fall on Christmas. And if I wrote it in order, the fourth vote would fall on New Years. This is something of a blessing and a curse. I am a procrastinator by nature, typically not writing anything until the night before. And the reason for this is because I don’t think of what I’m going to write until... the very last minute.

Because of this, you would almost certainly have two open threads on the two holiday days, because my Christmas Eve starts at 4:30 and ends at my parent’s house at about 12:30, and my New Years Eve starts at about 7:00 pm and ends with me far too drunk to write anything coherent. Normally, I’d not be able to think of a topic in time, and you’d get an open thread written right before my two respective holidays effectively began.

BUT! This time, I can write this ahead of time! Because I know what I’m writing about. This sounds like only a blessing? Well, I’m a little worried about the voter turnout for these two days. I would like every reader possible to participate and that’s just not going to happen when a sizable portion of the readers visit this exclusively at work. Ah well, I’d rather have an actual post than an open thread anyway.

The winner of the #1 prospect is..... maybe not the actual #1 prospect actually. Tink Hence won the vote, but I listened to the comments and maybe Masyn Winn should count. I’ll let you guys decide.

Poll

Should Masyn Winn be a prospect?

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    Yes
    (678 votes)
  • 25%
    No
    (231 votes)
909 votes total Vote Now

Pretty straightforward. If he wins, he takes the #1 spot and Tink Hence is our #2 prospect. If you feel he’s not really a prospect, Hence is the #1 prospect.

Moving on, the next question is who to add. Always the toughest part of my job as I have to somewhat guess who VEB in particular is enamored with. The quickness with which they receive votes gives me an idea of how smart my gut feelings are. This year, my first great gut feeling was Victor Scott II, who received much more love than I expected. He was a borderline inclusion, not being a top 100 prospect from any site on a vote that was supposed to just be top 100 prospects, and I included him because there’s an argument he should be one and a lot of readers agreed. Huzzah! (RIP The Great)

I’m pretty sure I know who is going to win this vote, and I’m also pretty sure whoever I add has no shot, so this is one of the lower pressure ones for me, which is nice. I’m going to add just two players, so you have six players to vote on for the #2 or #3 prospect. With last year’s top 20 as a basis, I’ll start with Cooper Hjerpe, who was the #7 prospect and has the highest ranking of anyone qualified who hasn’t been voted on. And for the second guy, I’ll have to add a player where I have zero idea of what readers think, because the Cardinals traded for him in the Jordan Hicks trade: Sem Robberse.

(I will eventually make these profiles shorter as we add more names, and not copy and paste them, but given I still ended up waiting until the last minute, I’m trying to write this quick. So apologies for the four returning members just being the same profile.)

Tekoah Roby (SP) - 22-years-old

LYR: Not in organization

Stats (AA): 14 GS, 58.1 IP, 28.9 K%, 6.3 BB%, 38.8 GB%, 4.63 ERA/3.54 FIP/3.59 xFIP

AFL: 5 GS, 13.2 IP, 28.1 K%, 9.4 BB%, 5.93 ERA

Roby was the fifth best prospect in the Rangers system who missed most of last season to shoulder trouble. But he did manage to return and make four starts for the Cardinals and five starts in the AFL. He made quick work of the AA hitters, but struggled mightily in the AFL. We all know how hard it is to pitch in the AFL, so that isn’t unexpected.

I’m curious on the Cardinals’ 2024 plans for Roby. The midseason injury threw a wrench into things, though he’s not likely a Cardinal without that injury. Roby’s career high in innings is still higher than Hence, but he only threw 72 innings last season. Are his innings managed, or will he get a chance to pitch a full season? Both Hence and Roby have a good case to get promoted to MLB bullpen - with success of course - to help manage their innings and gain exposure to MLB hitters slowly.

Gordon Graceffo (SP) - 24-years-old

LYR: #4

Stats (AAA): 21 G, (18 GS), 86 IP, 20.9 K%, 11.6 BB%, 41.8 GB%, 4.92 ERA/4.69 FIP/5.21 xFIP

I’ll the say the same thing for Graceffo as I did for Hence. He was probably in AAA faster than the Cardinals reasonably expected due to how well he ended up pitching in his first minor league stops. His excellent appearances in the season after being drafted started him in High A for 2022, and his utter domination there got him a promotion to AA after just 8 starts. The Cardinals, in retrospect actually, somewhat aggressively put him in AAA when he was not particularly dominant in AA. I guess I didn’t realize how mediocre looking his AA stats were until now.

In any case, Graceffo got injured midseason so it’s difficult to know how much of these stats could be injury-influenced, or recovering from injury influenced. Maybe some, maybe none. Hopefully, it was a one-year thing and he can have a healthy season next year.

Thomas Saggesse (IF) - 22-years-old

LYR: Not in organization

Stats (AA): 567 PAs, .318/.385/.551, 8.6 BB%, 22.9 K%, .233 ISO, .379 BABIP, 142 wRC+

AAA: 63 PAs, .207/.270/.345, 4.8 BB%, 22.2 K%, .138 ISO, .256 BABIP, 51 wRC+

Saggesse was having a very good season for the AA affiliate of the Texas Rangers when the Cardinals acquired and then his bat exploded upon arriving to Springfield. The AA stats above are a combination of his two teams. He struggled in AAA, but it was both only 13 games and also he was still 21-years-old.

2024 will represent a fresh start in AAA and a full season to adjust to pitchers. I suspect he could really improve his national rep as a prospect if he performs at AAA, cause it’d be basically impossible to ignore him at that point. He’s on this list, because he might have an argument to be a top 100 prospect, even if I don’t see most sites actually put him on there.

Victor Scott (OF) - 23-years-old

LYR: Not ranked by the readers, but I had him 17th.

High A: 308 PAs, .282/.365/.398, 9.1 BB%, 16.9 K%, .117 ISO, .338 BABIP, 117 wRC+

AA: 310 PAs, .323/.373/.450, 5.8 BB%, 14.5 K%, .128 ISO, .362 BABIP, 119 wRC+

Is Scott maybe an aggressive inclusion here, given his unlikeliness to actually make a top 100? Yes. But I see a hitter who has always been above average hitter, despite the scouting worrying about it, I see a fielder who has the chance to be elite in center field, and I see a baserunner who will steal a lot of bases. He will also be in AAA, so he’s close. That’s when I struggle to imagine I’d have 99 prospects better than him.

And that’s it! Only five guys to vote on. Last year it was seven, and all seven were unquestionably top 100 prospects. This year, that’s only true for two guys. (Of course, this system looks completely different if we call Masyn Winn a prospect, which he technically is).

Cooper Hjerpe (SP) - 23-years-old

LYR: #7

Stats (High A): 10 G (8 GS), 41 IP, 29.8 K%, 14.6 BB%, 43.2 GB%, 3.51 ERA/5.68 FIP/4.16 xFIP

AFL: 7 G, 8.1 IP, 40.5 K%, 16.2 BB%, 4.32 ERA

Those are some interesting stats, to say the least. For those worried that he’s a future reliever, I honestly can’t say he did a single thing to ease those worries. He got hurt for most of the year, and had control problems indicative of someone who needs to move to the bullpen. He was a full-blown reliever in the AFL and he struck out FORTY percent of batters, so he might at least be a hell of a reliever.

On the other hand, using a bit of context makes his season more exciting. He struggled out the gate in High A, allowing 12 runs in 16 innings, including six homers. He struck out 29% of batters, much like his season average, but walked 18%. In the following four starts before he got injured, he walked a much more manageable 10% and allowed two homers with a 1.54 ERA. He made two appearances late in the season, but that injury really screwed up what could have been a very promising season. So that’s what we have: if you were a skeptic, the 2023 season probably didn’t change your mind. If you were a believer, there’s enough here to keep believing.

Sem Robberse (SP) - 22-years-old

LYR: Not in organization

Stats (AA): 18 GS, 88.2 IP, 23.1 K%, 8.9 BB%, 42.7 GB%, 4.06 ERA/4.61 FIP/4.12 xFIP

AAA: 8 G (7 GS), 26.2 K%, 14.3 BB%, 38.9 GB%, 4.84 ERA/5.58 FIP/4.84 xFIP

Something of a common theme between Cooper and Robberse is that in both instances, it looked like they turned a corner, but didn’t get any more starts to prove that was the case. Upon getting traded to the Cardinals, they immediately promoted him to Memphis and he was quite bad in his first few starts. In his first four starts, he threw 15 innings, allowed 14 ER with 13 walks and just 14 strikeouts.

But! Something may have clicked. In his last four appearances, he struck out 34.5% of batters with still too many walks (12.6 BB%), but he only allowed 5 earned runs in 20 innings. We are thinking much differently of him if he pitches like he did in his final four appearances for his entire AAA tenure, but of course that’s the rub and the difficult thing: how much do we believe in either. That could determine how soon you select Sem.

Poll

Who should be the next prospect on the rankings?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Gordon Graceffo
    (38 votes)
  • 3%
    Cooper Hjerpe
    (31 votes)
  • 1%
    Sem Robberse
    (10 votes)
  • 28%
    Tekoah Roby
    (235 votes)
  • 21%
    Thomas Saggese
    (180 votes)
  • 39%
    Victor Scott II
    (329 votes)
823 votes total Vote Now