St. Louis Cardinals Top 30 Prospects

February 16, 2024

The 2024 Preseason Top 30 lists are built around the idea of certainty and future Role. Similar to industry projection systems such as Future Value (FV), Overall Future Potential (OFP), and Grade, Role is a way to describe to what degree a player will add value to his organization at peak.

Our scale is a bit more conservative than other grading systems. We take into account recent seasonal performance, proximity to impact, metric/data analysis, and industry conversations to build a case for the most likely outcome for any given player.

It is important to note these Role labels are fluid and can change as a player moves up the developmental ladder. It is not uncommon for a player to change his role projection over even one month. Players jump from a Role 35 to a Role 40 quite quickly.

Things like mechanical adjustments and physical maturation can alter a player’s projection seemingly overnight. Players change. Keep that in mind.

Below is our Role chart used to place future projection on players.

20No organizational value. Non-prospect.
30Organizational value, filler. Likely peaks at Triple-A or below.
35Potential up-and-down, Quad-A prospect. Has some tools. Development necessary to secure prolonged MLB role.
40Back-up at MLB level. No. 5 starter on non-competitive team. Depth.
45Potential starter on contender. Bench player for championship-level team.
50Starter on a championship-level team. Lacks star ceiling. Steady. Potential No. 4 starting pitcher.
55Potential all-star. Some impact. Above average big-league regular. Mid-rotation starter on a contender.
60All-star level player. Impact. Middle-of-the-order bat. No. 2 starter on good team.
70Perennial all-star. Will contend for seasonal awards. Potential MVP/Cy Young upside. No. 1 starting pitcher. Ace.
80Hall of Fame upside. Generational. MVP/Cy Young Favorite some years. Organizational pillar who can carry an entire franchise at times.

You will not find players with a sub-50 Role on our Top 100 Prospect List. You are also unlikely to find any sub-35 Role plakers on a Top 30 board. Generally, organizations will have at least 30 players with big-league projection.

All rankings and roles by Joe Doyle
Player notes by Jason A. Churchill

The Cardinals have a steady farm system moving in the right direction, in part due to draft and development, but the club also has made a few trades that have brought back some talent, namely the exchange of Jordan Montgomery for their top pitching prospect in Tekoah Roby, and a future big-league infielder in Thomas Saggese.

St. Louis also has four potential major-league catchers in their top 15 and a slew of back-end starters, but are not without some upside in their top 10.

1Tekoah RobyRHP55
2Masyn WinnSS50
3Victor Scott IIOF50
4Tink HenceRHP50
5Thomas Saggese2B/3B45
6Chase DavisOF45
7Cooper HjerpeLHP45
8Ivan HerreraC45
9Gordon GraceffoRHP45
10Sem RobberseRHP45

Roby was the headliner in the Montgomery trade and offers a chance at three plus pitches and average command, not to mention he’s probably within a year of the majors.

It’s a mid-90s four-seamer with some carry pairing well with a slider that projects well in the low-80s and curveball, his best pitch at present.

He also has a changeup that’s flashed, but he may not need it if he commands his other three offerings well enough.

Winn is an upside play, but comes with a pretty high floor thanks to 70-garde speed, plus defense, and a chance to make a lot of contact.

There’s plenty of bat speed, so there’s hope for some power downt he road, but some swing refinements are necessary if he’s to get to it, and that likely takes some time.

Winn is essentially big-league ready, suggesting the Cards could slide Tommy Edman to second or a utility role and let Winn start the season as the everyday shortstop.

Hence is an eletric athlete with tremendous arm speed and uses it to reach 99 mph and sit in the mid-90s for most of his outings. He’s still working to generate a big-league quality breaking ball and his slider is close but most scouts see it as a fringe offering through the end of 2023.

“Would like to see more snap, a sharper break,” said one scout. “It’s working on hitter now, but those guys (MLB hitters) will not be impacted by it.”

His best pitch is a changeup that receives a lot of 70 grades, which may offer a high floor in the back of the bullpen. But he’s just 21,leaving him time to polish the slider and fit somewhere in the middle of the rotation.

Graceffo, the Cardinals’ fifth-round pick in 2021, filled the strike zone with a four-pitch mix until hitting a snag in that area in 86 frames in Triple-A last season when he issued 45 bases on balls (11.6%).

There’s deception in his delivery and he’s up to 96 mph with his fastball. The slider is above average now and may get to plus with some ability to miss bats, and his changeup isn’t far behind. The 76 mph curveball has been useful for him in the minors but doesn’t project as well as his other two secondaries.

If he gets back to locating his fastball and teasing the edges with his breaking balls, the right-hander should see St. Louis in 2024.

11Leonardo BernalC40
12Travis HoneymanOF40
13Jimmy CrooksC40
14Michael McGreevyRHP40
15Pedro PagesC40
16Won-Bin ChoOF40
17Zack ShowalterRHP40
18Max RajcicRHP35
19Cesar PrietoINF35
20Zach LevensonOF35
21Quinn MathewsLHP35
22Brycen MautzLHP35
23Jonathan MejiaSS35
24Edwin NunezRHP35
25Luken Baker1B35
26Pete HansenLHP35
27Joshua BaezOF35
28Moises GomezOF35
29Drew RomLHP35
30Branneli FrancoRHP35

McGreevy went No. 18 overall in 2021 and has done nothing but throw strikes with average stuff, reaching Triple-A in 2023.

It’s below-average velocity as the right-hander deploys a sinker-slider approach that generates ground balls rather than strikeouts, but the slider has a chance to be above average and his curveball and changeup flash average.

He’s 6-fooot-4 and 220 pounds and might have more velo in the tank with some delivery adjustments, which could change his profile a bit from back-end starter to perhaps an efficiency-based mid-rotation arm.

Pagés is already 25, and went back to Double-A last season after reaching Triple-A in 2022. All the numbers vastly improved — highest average, OBP, and slug since he debuted in 2019 — including his 16 home runs. He also made more contact than ever.

He’s a solid-average defender who projects as a backup, but he’s always torched left-handed pitching suggesting a Tom Murphy-like profile.

Baez possesses huge powerpotemtial and is a solid-average athlete with big arm, projecing well in a corner outfield spot. He’s been hurt a lot, playing just 32 games in 2022 and 91 a year ago, so he remains quite raw at the plate.

He won’t be 21 until late June, however, so there’s time to shorten up, make more consistent contact, and advance beyond Palm Beach.

Rom saw the majors for 33.2 innings last season, struggling with control of fringey stuff, including an 87-92 mph fastball, depending on which one he threw, a splitter, and an 80 mph slider.

His splitter has a chance to miss bats, but the breaking ball is fimrly below average with low spin rates. The hope is he can get enough ground balls to serve as a spot starter or middle reliever.

Joe Doyle
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