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Three Cardinals prospects who’s stock has taken the biggest hit this season

St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Earlier in the week we looked at three Cardinals prospects who have seen their stock take an uptick. Unfortunately as always though, there are also some prospects who have taken considerable steps back which leaves their long term future in question. Down below we are going to review three of those prospects and where they project in the future.

Tink Hence - RHP - A+/AA

2023 stats - 21 G, 21 GS, 86 IP, 4.50 ERA, 31 BB, 91 K, 1.34 WHIP

Before you pull your pitchforks out let me explain. Hence got off to a fantastic start pitching to a 2.81 ERA and striking out 46 batters in 41 ⅔ innings in A+. But, in AA he’s struggled to the tune of a 6.09 ERA, 19 walks and 45 strikeouts in 44 ⅓ innings. He’s certainly been bitten by the home run ball this season allowing 11 already on the year so it does raise the question as to whether or not he’s been semi unlucky this year. Regardless of that though his walk rate per nine is still up .6 and his K rate per nine is down 4.4. Both of which are obviously considerable step backs. Unlucky or not in certain areas, 2023 has to be considered a step back for Hence.

Gordon Graceffo - RHP - AAA

2023 stats - 18 G, 17 GS, 4.60 ERA, 39 BB, 73 K, 1.46 WHIP

Coming into the year there was an expectation that Graceffo would be pitching in the bigs around the halfway point of the season. But his regression across the board has prevented that from becoming a reality. He’s walked 11 more batters this season in 61 fewer innings and allowed just 28 less hits than he did in 2022. His ground ball rate of 42.4 percent is also the lowest he’s had at any minor league level and his 5.21 xFIP and 4.77 FIP actually indicate Graceffo has been a lucky pitcher this season. He will be just 24 years old next season so he has plenty of time to develop, but this season has raised some unwanted long term questions around him.

Joshua Baez - OF - A

2023 stats - 91 G, .218/.341/.383, 20 2B, 7 HR, 45 BB, 122 K, 30 SB

At the end of the 2022 season, Baez was the Cardinals 7th best prospect on MLBPipeline’s team top 30. Now, Baez is the teams 26th best prospect and he’s only that high because of some 2023 graduates. There was a lot of hope for Baez entering the season because this was set to be his first full season after playing just 55 games in his first two pro seasons. However, it’s been a complete and utter disappointment as his power tool, which is what was going to carry him as a prospect, has yet to truly show through with just seven homers. Additionally, his on base percentage is down .044 points and his OPS has plummeted .146. Baez is going to be 20 for the start of next season so obviously he’s not even close to being fully matured as a hitter. Although, if his struggles continue into next season he will likely fade into prospect irrelevancy.