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Vote on the Cardinals’ best prospect

Who is the Cardinals’ best prospect? You decide!

MLB: OCT 02 Pirates at Cardinals Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Back when I covered Jose Fermin shortly after the Cardinals’ acquisition of him, I noticed that Covering the Corner, the Cleveland Guardian’s SB Nation blog, let the readers decide that site’s top 20 prospects. I thought - well that’s a good idea. I am very interested to see what a fan-driven vote for the Cardinals’ top 20 prospects would look like.

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how this will go. I’m going to duplicate their process, so that’s not where my confusion lies. I would very much like to figure out a way to shorten this process, but I can’t figure out a good solution without assuming how people will vote. You can’t run concurrent polls because one of the polls will determine who was selected.

The way this will work is that I, or maybe another writer at VEB if they want to steal a post from me, will give you a set of Cardinals’ prospects to vote on. The winner of that post is who you think should be the Cardinals’ x number prospect. And then the next week, another name will be added based upon national reports, possibly comments if they feel someone deserves to be on there. You know I read the comments, so make your voice heard if you feel someone is getting disrespected and deserves a chance to be on the list.

To start with, it’s actually fairly easy to come up with a list thankfully. Because the Cardinals have a limited number of top 100 prospects - as all teams do - and the only requirement to be on this initial list is simply that - make a top 100 prospect list. Heather went through all the names yesterday - anybody named on either ESPN, The Athletic, the MLB website, or Baseball America top 100 is getting a chance.

Jordan Walker (3B/OF) - 21-years-old

Highest ranking: #4 (BA, MLB)

Lowest ranking: #12 (ESPN)

Stats (AA): 536 PAs, .306/.388/.510, 10.8 BB%, 21.6 K%, .204 ISO, .365 BABIP, 128 wRC+

Walker was drafted 21st overall in what is shaping up to be a legendary 2020 draft by the Cardinals. He has taken what I feel is an odd route to a top 10 prospect. He was seen as a prospect with huge power potential, but had massive swing-and-miss in his game. The Cardinals helped clean up his swing and his contact issues have almost been nonexistent. He had a .313 ISO and 6 homers in 27 games in Low A, though his power in AA didn’t really come until the second half. I promise you, having been around for Daniel Descalso in Springfield, that a .204 ISO in Springfield isn’t really as much power as you think. Which is why a .306 average, good walk rate, and .204 ISO is “just” a 128 wRC+.

Walker will likely begin the 2023 season in Memphis and seems targeted for the Nolan Gorman treatment - a call-up in May or so. But it must also be said that Gorman came into the 2022 season with 328 plate appearances in AAA and then hit the ever living cover off the ball in the first month and change, so we may be putting the cart before the horse here if we assume he’ll be up nearly immediately.

Masyn Winn (SS) - 21-years-old

Highest ranking - #27 (ESPN)

Lowest ranking - #50 (MLB)

Stats (AA): 403 PAs, .258/.349/.432, 12.4 BB%, 21.3 K%, .174 ISO, .308 BABIP, 100 wRC+

Winn was drafted 54th overall in the same 2020 draft - not the last 2020 draftee you’ll see today. Winn was drafted as a two-way player, but ended up being too good at the position player part for the Cardinals to explore the pitching. Or at least, they may have explored the pitching aspect, but it never made its way to game-play.

The exciting part about Winn as a prospect are not the things people usually get excited about in prospects: his glove, his arm, and his speed. A 100 wRC+ is nothing to sneeze at from a 20-year-old in AA in his second professional season, but the fact is if the reports are accurate about the non-hitting parts of his game, he likely doesn’t have to do much hitting.

Tink Hence (SP) - 20-years-old

Highest ranking: #47 (BA)

Lowest ranking: #77 (MLB)

Stats (Low A): 16 GS, 52.1 IP, 41.5 K%, 7.7 BB%, 55.1 GB%, 1.38 ERA, 1.59 FIP, 1.94 xFIP

Hence was also drafted in the 2020 draft, and he was only a few spots lower than Winn at #63 overall. The main question with Hence is how exactly aggressive will they be with him? He was so absurdly dominant in Low A that the only reason he wasn’t promoted was because they had a plan and they stuck with it.

I suspect they will stick to their plan in this upcoming season, which evidently involves sending him to Springfield. Which makes sense. He was sent to the AFL, and though he was in the bullpen, he still had 9 strikeouts to 4 walks with a 2.16 ERA in those innings. High A might have been enough of a challenge, and they may want to keep him in one place all year. What is his innings goal for this year? I suspect at least 80, and possibly approaching 100. That would put him in line to have a mostly normal - though not completely unleashed - starter’s workload in the MLB by 2025.

Gordon Graceffo (SP) - 23-years-old

High ranking: #66 (Athletic)

Lowest ranking: Not in top 100 (Baseball America)

Stats (AA): 18 GS, 93.2 IP, 21.9 K%, 6.3 BB%, 45.3 GB%, 3.94 ERA, 5.07 FIP, 4.63 xFIP

A pitcher who has no such innings limit is Graceffo, who was NOT drafted in the 2020 draft. He was drafted in the 2021 draft, in the 5th round, which would be quite the steal if he lives up to his current potential. His AA stats are a little underwhelming but feel free to look at the Springfield Cardinal leaderboards and you’ll quickly see that it is not an easy place to pitch. There’s a reason Graceffo has a better projected FIP by ZiPS in the majors right now than his xFIP in Springfield.

Given their aggressive promotion, you’d think he’d be targeted for AAA, though repeating AA should also not come as a huge surprise either. Maybe see if he dominates, and then promote? Depends how much they expect him to factor into the 2023 pitching plans.

Matthew Liberatore (SP) - 23-years-old

Highest ranking - #79 (BA)

Lowest ranking - Just missed (Athletic, MLB, ESPN)

Stats (AAA): 22 GS, 115 IP, 23.4 K%, 8.3 BB%, 36.4 GB%, 5.17 ERA, 4.63 FIP, 4.27 xFIP

I suspect stats are not the way to buy into Liberatore as a prospect. At least not the stats without context. While possibly optimistic, ZiPs is very much a Liberatore fan and guess what? Same stats we have is what it’s based on. It foresees a 3.95 FIP and 2 WAR in 141 innings.

We all know the story with Liberatore. Great secondary pitches, a fastball that gets crushed. Which may mostly be a command issue. Not that it’s necessarily ever going to be a great pitch, but he can certainly make it work with his repertoire.

Ivan Herrera (C) - 23-years-old

Highest ranking - #89 (ESPN)

Lowest ranking - Does not get mentioned (MLB, BA)

Stats (AAA): 278 PAs, .268/.374/.396, 13.7 BB%, 18.7 K%, .128 ISO, .318 BABIP, 111 wRC+

Herrera is suffering from prospect fatigue I suspect. Nothing really changed from 2021 to 2022. He had a marginally above average hitting line in AA and had a slightly better hitting line last year in AAA. And yet, I feel like he’s fallen dramatically in prospect rankings. It’s an interesting thing.

I do not think it’s offense-based, or at least it wouldn’t make sense if it was. His defense has become a slight concern, and the Cardinals want him to improve on his gameplanning, but as long as his defense isn’t a disaster (like say, Andrew Knizner), his bat seems like it could carry him to be an average player.

Alec Burleson (1B/OF) - 24-years-old

Highest ranking: #91 (MLB)

Lowest ranking: Does not get mentioned (everyone else)

Stats (AAA): 470 PAs, .331/.372/.532, 6.2 BB%. 14.3 K%, .201 ISO, .350 BABIP, 137 wRC+

Do know how much things have changed? Can you imagine how highly a .331 average in AAA would end up being ranked 10, 15, 20 years ago? That’s an interesting thought experiment. Anyway, Burleson is another of the questionable defense, hit tool prospect the Cards have a bunch of right now. Well, most of the other names are not prospects, but you get the idea.

Was also drafted in the 2020 draft, 70th overall. I want all these guys to end up fulfilling their potential or at least having good MLB careers, but because it’ll be good for the Cards and good for me as a fan, but also because I want to be talking about that draft forever.


Who is the Cardinals #1 prospect?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    Jordan Walker, 3B/OF
    (594 votes)
  • 3%
    Masyn Winn, SS
    (23 votes)
  • 5%
    Tink Hence, SP
    (35 votes)
  • 1%
    Gordon Graceffo, SP
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Matthew Liberatore, SP
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Ivan Herrera, C
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Alec Burleson, 1B/OF
    (12 votes)
680 votes total Vote Now





Okay I said before I wanted to figure out a way to shorten this process, and I also said the only way to really do that is assume, but this is my one chance to assume. There’s kind of a big gap between the #1 guy on Cardinals’ list and the rest. You can see it in the rankings. The rest are very much debatable. And the first debatable one goes to the #2 prospect as voted on by the readers of VEB.


Who is the Cardinals #2 prospect?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Masyn Winn, SS
    (235 votes)
  • 40%
    Tink Hence, SP
    (217 votes)
  • 7%
    Gordon Graceffo, SP
    (38 votes)
  • 2%
    Matthew Liberatore, SP
    (14 votes)
  • 0%
    Ivan Herrera, C
    (3 votes)
  • 4%
    Alec Burleson, 1B/OF
    (23 votes)
530 votes total Vote Now