I’m not sure about the Cardinals. I love Jordan Walker, Maysn Winn, and Tink Hence. I believe all three have a chance to be impact players. Thomas Sagesse will be better than people think, but after that, I’m not sure there is enough for them to be considered a championship-level team two to three years down the road. Sure, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arendo are still very good, but let’s face it: Goldy will be 37, and Arendo will be 33 next season. I’m still not sold on Gorman being a star. It feels like a good team – an 85-win team, but not more.
I know they can dip into free agency, but that has proven a challenge for teams trying to build core pieces with 30+ year-old free agents.
In the end, it all feels a tad light to me.
- Top Prospect: Maysn Winn
- Biggest Mover: Thomas Saggese
- Biggest Disappointment: Gordon Graceffo
- Emerging Prospect: Reiner Lopez
1. Masyn Winn (SS)
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS
- Tools Summary: He showed more power in Triple-A, but the data upon his promotion to the Majors showed below-average exit velos and launch angles.
The athletic Masyn Winn had a terrific 2023 season in Triple-A, slashing .288/.359/.474 with 18 home runs and 17 stolen bases. He would have gone 20-20, but the Cardinals promoted him to Majors for a September call-up. Once he got to St. Louis, he didn’t hit, primarily because he swung at everything. However, he did make great contact and showed elite speed. What was disappointing was the lack of high exit velocity. He averaged an 85.2 MPH exit velo with a 37% hard hit rate and a 7.2-degree launch angle. All three are well below average and might point to below-average future power.
So, we know there is 20+ stolen base potential, and he should hit. However, I’m not convinced about the power. Perhaps the 18 home runs and .474 SLG he showed in Triple-A were enhanced by him playing in the Pacific Coast League. The ceiling might be more 10-20+, instead of 20-20.
2. Tink Hence (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP or Lockdown Closer
- Tools Summary: Extremely athletic with an impressive four-pitch mix.
Tink Hence built upon an excellent 2022, splitting his time between High and Double-A. His control was spotty upon his promotion to Double-A, and he was more homer-prone. That led to an ugly 5.47 ERA. The home runs are concerning, given his 6-foot-1 stature. It’s something that needs to be monitored.
The raw stuff is impressive. He has a four-pitch mix with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s with a high spin rate. His secondary pitches show promise, with his curveball having the best chance to grade out as a plus or even a double-plus pitch.
The upside could be substantial, and I have put a number two starter ceiling with the floor of a high-leveraged reliever.
3. Thomas Saggese (2B/3B)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 2B
- Tools Summary: He continued his contact improvements from 2022, and when you combine that with a bit of speed and power, he’s an intriguing player.
Thomas Saggese was drafted in the last round (fifth round) of that weird 2020 draft, and after a difficult debut season in 2021, he showed contact improvement in 2022 that carried over to 2023.
He did it by becoming more aggressive at the plate, which hurt his walk rate. However, over time, I believe he’ll walk more, and if he can keep his strikeouts in check, there’s enough speed and power in the bat to give him the upside of a Top 15-second baseman on a fantasy team. I don’t believe he will be a star, but players like Saggese can make a difference.
4. Victor Scott II (OF)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling: Wide range. Top 45 OF if he gets full-time playing time or an extra bat if he doesn’t.
- Tools Summary: His carrying tool is his 80-grade speed. He could be a significant asset to your fantasy team in the right situation.
Victor Scott was drafted in the fifth round in 2022 and has already made his way to Double-A. His carrying tool is his 80-grade speed and excellent defensive skills. He controls the strike zone well, striking out at less than the league average with a solid walk rate. That’s four above-average skills, but unfortunately, it also comes with 40-grade power. He might be more than a “speed only” player, but the power will likely be more doubles than over-the-fence power. He could be a significant asset to your fantasy team in the right situation.
5. Chase Davis (OF, #21)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2026-27 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF
- Tools Summary: If the improved strikeout rate he showed in college carries forward, there is 20 home run pop and a handful of stolen bases.
The Cardinals are going through a tough stretch as their Major League team and Minor League system are underperforming. However, they did well in the Draft, selecting Chase Davis with the 21st pick. He improved his strikeout from his sophomore to junior year in a meaningful way (22.8% to 14.4% K-Rate), walking more than he struck out in doing so. He also has solid-average power and enough athleticism to steal some bases, but he did not show that at all in college.
While the above is what I think is possible, his professional debut shows that might be over-aggressive. He slashed .212/.366/.269 in 34 games. Yikes!
6. Tekoah Roby (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP with health risk
- Tools Summary: He’s athletic with a simple delivery and excellent stuff. Injuries have hampered him thus far in his professional career.
Roby Tekoah got off to a strong start to the 2023 season but left his game on June 3rd with a shoulder injury that caused him to miss nearly two months of games. While he was out, he was traded in the Jordan Montgomery deal at the trade deadline. When he did return to pitching in late August, he pitched well, but the Cardinals limited his outings to three innings.
Assuming health, the upside could be very high. He’s athletic with a fastball that will touch 97 with plenty of carry and spin. He throws both a slider and curveball as his two breakers with a feel for a change-up. It’s all there for him to pitch as a mid-rotation starter, maybe more.
7. Won-Bin Cho (OF)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2026 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 OF
- Tools Summary: There is 20+ home run pop with enough contact and plate discipline to post a .260+ batting average.
I wasn’t sure what to make of Won-Bin Cho when the Cardinals signed him in 2022. But, if I’m being honest, he’s better than I thought he would be. I’ve watched many of his at-bats, and the bat speed is solid; there is loft in the swing, and I think he hits for power as he fills out. His stolen bases are a bonus, but as he fills out, I don’t think speed will be a big part of his profile. Early on, he could steal 10 to 12 annually. He’s striking out too much but is also walking 15% of the time. I think the profile works with a chance to slash .260/.340/.450 with 20+ home runs with some stolen bases.
8. Gordon Graceffo (RHP)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: His best pitch is his curveball, but his straight fastball and lack of a quality change-up places his ceiling at a number four starter.
Gordon Graceffo went on the IL in May and finally returned to the field in mid-June. Overall, he did not pitch as well as he did in 2022. He’s walked more hitters, and the stuff has not been as tight.
Looking at the baseballsavant, he throws hard with his fastball, averaging 94.5 MPH and scrapping 97. It doesn’t have a great spin. His curveball is a plus pitch with a high whiff rate, but he also lacks a quality change-up. It lacks fade and tumble and is thrown 13 MPH slower than his fastball.
I thought he had a chance to be a number three starter, but I’m going to downshift and put his ceiling as a number four starter. That assumes he throws more strikes. If he doesn’t, he profiles as more of a spot starter.
9. Sem Robberse (RHP)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: Has taken a step up in 2023, showing a solid four-pitch mix.
He was signed out of the Netherlands for $125,000 in 2019 and had a solid 2023 season. He pitched to a 4.06 ERA in Double-A, striking out nearly a batter an inning while walking 3.3 per nine. He has a four-pitch mix with his fastball sitting 93 to 94 MPH with average spin, a slider, which is his best pitch, a change-up, and a curveball that is more of a show-me pitch. The stuff looks more like a back-of-the-rotation starter, but his improvements have been so good this season that I will put his ceiling as a Top 60 starter and maybe more if he can improve the velo on his fastball.
10. Cesar Prieto (3B)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 2B
- Tools Summary: He makes elite contact with below-average power and stolen base output.
Cesar Prieto is one of the best hitters in the minor leagues. He makes elite contact and is a miserable at-bat for opposing pitchers. He’s a line-drive hitter that produces more doubles than home run pop. He could develop 8 to 12 home run pop with some changes to his swing path. He’s also an average runner with a chance to steal 8 to 10 stolen bases annually.
He was blocked with the Orioles, and his trade to the Cardinals presents similar challenges. He has an unusual skillset with the ceiling of a Luis Arraez type of player. There is Nick Madrigal risk, but I lean more toward Arraez. Where he plays with the Cardinals, I’m not sure.