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Is Masyn Winn The Cardinals’ Long-Term Answer At Shortstop?

The Rocket-Armed Shortstop Is A Throwback To Middle Infielders Of The Past. What Does His Trajectory Look Like?

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Prized rookie Jordan Walker has finally reached 130 plate appearances on the season, which means the St. Louis Cardinals now have a fresh face at the top of their prospect leaderboard.

It’s none other than Masyn Winn, whose toolset has made him a consensus top-100 talent and one of the more exciting players to watch in all of minor league baseball.

He’s certainly taken advantage of every opportunity to shine on the big stage, as this 100.5 MPH laser beam from shortstop stole the national spotlight last Summer at the 2022 MILB Futures Game. It remains one of the strongest throws in recorded StatCast history.

Winn was part of the Cardinals’ gem-studded 2020 draft class, and while there was some discussion as to whether he’d pitch or play the field (or both), he eventually settled in at shortstop as a professional. Fast-forward three years, and Masyn has rocketed up prospect lists; he’s become a vital building block in the team’s plans.

During Spring Training, he made noise and flashed potential with a contact-first middle infield profile. Masyn was assigned to triple-A Memphis to catch up his offensive production with his already stellar defense. He struggled mightily out of the gate but has slowly begun to adjust to the level; both his basic and advanced metrics paint a similar picture this year from last.

Masyn Winn 2022/23 Basic Stats

Season Team Level Age G PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Season Team Level Age G PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
2022 STL AA 20 86 403 11 69 48 28 0.258 0.349 0.432
2023 STL AAA 21 69 331 8 55 28 14 0.258 0.332 0.386

He’s been getting on base both years at a nearly identical clip, and while the numbers don’t quite pop out at you, it is Masyn’s scathing toolset that has earned him status as a top prospect. Given the wide range of potential outcomes, let’s examine his profile and inference as to what kind of player he could develop into.

Contact Skills

We begin with Masyn’s bat-to-ball skills, which have plus upside and should carry his overall production numbers. He’s hovered around the .260 range through 740 plate appearances in the high minors but could wind up running a .275+ clip at full maturity.

Shoutout to Jacob, @cardinalsreek on Twitter, for providing me with the graphic above.

Winn has always made above-average soft contact, and this year is no exception; both his 80.6% contact rate and 86.8% zone contact rate would be well above the league average. It needs to stay that way for him to have success as a hitter if he never taps into more power. More on this shortly.

Masyn Winn 2022/23 Advanced Stats

Season Level Age PA HR BB% K% ISO BABIP wOBA wRC+ Pull% Cent% Oppo%
Season Level Age PA HR BB% K% ISO BABIP wOBA wRC+ Pull% Cent% Oppo%
2022 AA 20 403 11 12.40% 21.30% 0.174 0.308 0.351 100 51.70% 16.50% 31.80%
2023 AAA 21 331 8 8.50% 17.80% 0.128 0.299 0.327 82 36.00% 27.60% 36.40%

Notice this year, he’s swinging far less in the zone than he was last year at a nearly identical swing rate. This is more of a discipline and pitch recognition issue, as he’s struggled to spit on breaking balls nipping the shadow away.

We can also see Masyn’s pull rate is down from last year, hovering at 36% and producing a pretty even spray chart. This wouldn’t be a problem if Winn routinely posted 35-grade max exit velocities or lower, like Steven Kwan or Esteury Ruiz. However, he’s not a cellar-dweller like those two, consistently reaching his 45-grade 95% exit velocity.

Conclusion? He doesn’t hit the ball softly enough to hit them where they ain’t, but his current batted-ball distribution is costing him since Winn does have some raw juice, and hitters with any sort of thump would benefit from pulling the ball more if they aren’t already. Life would be much easier for him if he stopped trying to be a spray magician.

This latter point is part of a larger reason why power is likely the most important between discipline, bat-to-ball skills, and power because it’s much easier to just consistently hit the ball hard. Not to say the above players aren’t good, but for Masyn’s sake, overhauling bat control to achieve a slap-hit single would require more finesse and less power; counterintuitive to what he’s already good at.

Now let’s focus on his vertical barrel variability. His 32% SweetSpot% this year is more than respectable since most of his hits are pulled on the ground at a low exit velocity, theoretically preventing fielders from tending easily to weak contact.

While he plants his fair share of batted balls, he also fails to hit line drives more consistently, as seen by the high number of batted balls 30 degrees or higher. With his limited thump, all of his soft liners in the air are being hauled in effortlessly. Should he struggle to add additional strength to his frame, further restricting those fly balls will go a long way in boosting his production.

We’ve talked about how Masyn does a nice job of getting the barrel through much of the zone, and this is shown by his strong OPS outputs in high-volume zones. He could do better through the middle and inside, though I think Winn’s lightning-fast hands will eventually catch up his production in these zones.

This could also explain why he’s having trouble pulling the ball this year; teams have rightfully forced him to center up or push the ball the other way to neutralize any sort of pop he possesses.

So far, Masyn’s been baffled at the plate by pesky breaking balls. Interestingly enough, he’s hitting .303 against fastballs, though his lack of power is exposed by a mere 0.758 OPS. Better recognizing spin and improving his exit velocities are clear hurdles he’ll have to clear before he cracks the bigs.

We see a similar story when we zoom out for all zones and isolate for just pitch type. Masyn does his job to catch up to fastballs but fails to do much against any secondaries, especially changeups. He’s hitting .294 on fastballs, but his .824 OPS suggests he’s still having problems converting raw power to on-paper production.

Masyn Winn OPS By Pitch Type 2023

Pitch Type PA, OPS
Pitch Type PA, OPS
Fastball 196, 0.824
Breaking Ball 40, 0.591
Offspeed 101, 0.566

Masyn’s biggest kryptonite is his inability to hit for power. He’s not a powerful rotational athlete, but it also doesn’t help the modern-day MLB shortstop is now, on average, 6’0.5 ft. and capable of slugging .450 or higher.

Even so, there are plenty of 5’10/5’11 guys who can uncork 25+ dingers a season, but their success is due to their ability to twist their torsos efficiently enough to generate power despite a smaller frame.

Programs do exist where professional hitters have gone to increase their max exit velocities, as we saw Brendan Donovan beef up the power at Driveline this past Winter. It’s paid off so far, as he’s added two ticks to his max exit velocity (107 MPH last year to 109.1 MPH this season).

I’m slightly intrigued Masyn’s hitting the ball harder more often this year, as suggested by his two-tick increase in average exit velocity from last year. Despite this, there’s virtually no difference in his 90% max exit velocities (up to 100.5 MPH from 100.1 MPH last year), letting me believe he’s done naturally growing into power.

Athletic Tools

Masyn’s offensive skillset clearly needs fine-tuning, but he’s a twitchy athlete who will buoy his on-field value with excellent defense and baserunning skills in the absence of consistent solid hits.

On the basepaths, Winn grades out as a plus runner. While I hope he beefs up, I don’t think Masyn will ever add enough weight to compromise agility and quickness. His seventeen bolts this year at Memphis would be tied for 17th in all of MLB, ahead of Byron Buxton and Myles Straw. A bolt is categorized as any run with a sprint speed of 30 ft/sec or more.

This play was just a groundout, but it still gives you an idea of his elite acceleration. His home-to-first time of 4.01 seconds would rank in the top 250 amongst the thousands of competitive running events in MLB this year, impressive when considering he’s a righty.

Defensively, Winn currently projects as a plus glove and is a safe bet to remain at shortstop. He’s not exactly a vacuum and could better react to batted balls hit his way, but I think this will come with time as the game continues to slow down for him.

Although his initial reads hamper him to some degree, Masyn’s arm strength more than makes up for a slow reaction time. He’s made a name for himself by regularly unleashing guided missiles across the diamond, boasting one of the strongest infield arms ever. Even if his range never improves, his 80-grade arm will play for him and will allow him to nab the game’s fastest baserunners, as shown here:

Yes way, Greg.

This sequence perfectly encapsulates Masyn’s current defensive ability; his reaction is shaky, moving to his left with fringy footwork only to nail the speedy Greg Jones with a 97.1 MPH dart. Jones has a case for being the quickest player in the sport, making this play all the more fascinating to watch; even he couldn’t believe his eyes.

Ultimately, I think his arm will keep him at a premium defensive position. His athleticism and small stature should keep him away from the corners. I find a move to second unlikely given the team shouldn’t want to waste his premium arm strength. Whether he stays at shortstop or centerfield, baserunners should always be on their toes.


Masyn Winn Comparables

Player Season Sweet Spot % Hard Hit % Barrel % AVG/BABIP GB% wRC+ Avg EV (MPH) Max EV (MPH) BB% K% MLB OAA Percentile
Player Season Sweet Spot % Hard Hit % Barrel % AVG/BABIP GB% wRC+ Avg EV (MPH) Max EV (MPH) BB% K% MLB OAA Percentile
Masyn Winn 2023 32% 29.50% 1.60% .258/.297 41.30% 82 87 107 8.60% 17.50% N/A
Edmundo Sosa 2021 28.90% 32% 3.90% .271/.326 51.80% 104 86.7 114.6 5.20% 19.30% 88th
Elvis Andrus 2016 32.40% 31.80% 1.80% .302/.333 47.70% 109 87.4 108.4 8.30% 12.30% N/A
Tim Anderson 2021 32.50% 42.30% 7.80% .309/.372 55.30% 119 89.6 110.2 5.20% 18.80% 76th

Masyn is limited by his stature and lack of rotational force, but there’s still lots of value in athletic middle infielders who can consistently connect the barrel to the ball, even if he’s not hitting it very hard. Plenty at the major league level fit this archetype, with a few key names specifically matching his discipline and contact skills.

Remember, for every Nootbaarian ascension in value, there’s been an Alex Reyes-esque fall from grace. It’s highly unlikely he merely becomes Edmundo Sosa, but it’s worth covering the full spectrum of future outcomes, starting with the lowest tier. If Winn’s current offensive skillset were matched with better defense, you’d end up with the 2021 version of Sosa. Our old friend made his living running an aggressive approach via a high contact rate while playing stellar defense. Masyn could check two of these three boxes, as he’s shown more patience than Sosa ever has. Edmundo is a 60-glove, and as stated above, I firmly believe Masyn will eventually be an above-average to plus defender at peak.

Next, we have the former Texas Ranger, Elvis Andrus. He’s a familiar foe from the 2011 World Series and was one of the best defensive shortstops of the 2010s. Despite having served fourteen full major league seasons, he’s only registered a wRC+ over 100 three times. I don’t think Masyn will ever be as good of a defender as Andrus, but his contact rates have allowed him to be one of just a handful of active players with 2,000 or more hits. Elvis’s 2016 season is what I think Masyn’s prime could look like, albeit with more power than eight dingers would suggest.

For the last comparison, I wanted to throw in a higher-end outcome in the event Winn combines his existing barrel accuracy with added juice as his career progresses. Tim Anderson has struggled this year, but as you’ve seen, I’m not comparing career trajectories, but rather offering individual season outputs. Anderson’s 2021 season is a high-end outcome for him. Winn isn’t nearly as aggressive, nor is he as proficient at putting bat to ball and doing so with impact. His max EV that year was 110.2 MPH, so Masyn would have to add a few ticks to his current high of 107 MPH, but if he does so while maintaining barrel accuracy, Winn will be a star.


Winn is one of the most gifted athletes in the sport, equipped with tools that could allow him to blossom into a star. For now, he’s a polarizing infield prospect whose future value is entirely dependent on how much raw power he’s able to extrapolate from his compact frame.

The offensive profile is rough, but I’m betting on his contact skills to eventually play for him as he learns to better recognize spin and drop at the higher levels of the minors. Finding a way to boost his raw power is essential to his development.

His glove will do most of the heavy lifting here, at least for now. He’s currently an average defender but with more experience, he should blossom into a 60-grade fielder. If he never improves his footwork, his arm will usually make up for his miscues.

Several factors have completely changed the timeline for Winn’s arrival. His misfortunes at Memphis, coupled with Paul DeJong’s resurgence, his two years of team control, and overall lack of team success have thrown Masyn’s debut date in limbo. At this juncture, it seems like a foregone conclusion DeJong’s $12.5 million option will be exercised come Winter; 3 WAR shortstops with proven 30-home run upside don’t grow on trees.

The front office no longer feels like they have to rush Masyn and can take their time molding him into their future shortstop. I didn’t think Winn was ready at the start of the season despite a solid Spring; his lack of power has been exposed in the high minors and it’s no different at Memphis. As of writing, he’s still not ready, and could very well end up spending the whole season at AAA, as his 82 wRC+ is not what you’d want to see from a potential budding star.

Ultimately, I think Winn is the shortstop of the future in St. Louis. If he can carry even a league-average slash line, his glove and arm will carry him to be a solid everyday starter. Only time will tell if the former second-rounder can put it all together.

Be sure to follow @adamakbani on Twitter for up-to-date news and analysis on the St. Louis Cardinals!