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LET THE KIDS PLAY!

Updated: May 23



Masyn Winn and Jordan Walker
Masyn Winn and Jordan Walker by David Carson via Post-Dispatch

In 2019, MLB ran preseason advertisements ending with the Phrase LET THE KIDS PLAY! In the last two seasons, the Cardinals have done just that. Choosing to play guys like Jordan Walker, 21, Nolan Gorman, 23, Alec Burleson, 24, and even Nootbaar is only 25. Last year, we also got glimpses of Masyn Winn, 21, and Ivan Herrera, 23, who we will see more of this year. On the mound, however, we see a rotation all north of age 33, and three are 35 or older. Meanwhile, the Bullpen may only sport 3 pitchers over 30. When we talk about pitchers like Drew Rom and Matthew Liberatore, both 23, Andre Pallante, 24, and Zach Thompson, and new additions Nick Robertson and Ryan Fernandez are 25. Even some of the "older" pitchers are still under 30. like Giovanny Gallegos, JoJo Romero, 27, Packy Naughton, 28, and Ryan Helsley, 29.


I thought I would give you a quick glimpse of some guys on the farm I will be keeping a spyglass on.


Victor Scott II, age 23 @ AA Springfield in 2023, Ranked 4th in the Cardinal system.

Scott did open a lot of fans' eyes last year. Between Springfield and Peoria, he hit .303/.369/.425, stole 94 bases and scored 95 runs in over 500 At-Bats. While he is not big on power(only 9 HRs last season), he does possess good defensive instincts that garnered him a Minor League Gold Glove and a spot in the Futures game.

In the Arizona Fall League, he hit .286/.388.417 and stole 18 bases in just 21 attempts. Even with Tommy Edman being questionable to start the season, I don't see Scott coming North after Spring Training. But if he continues his upward trend and CF becomes an issue, it could force the club's hand.



Tink Hence, age 21 @ AA Springfield in 2023, Ranked 2nd in the Cardinal system.

Every Cardinal fan has heard of Tink Hence. He was drafted in the same 2020 draft that brought Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn, and Alec Burleson. Hence, he caught the eye of fans in 2022 while at Palm Beach; in 16 starts, he went an unimpressive 0-1 but a very impressive ERA of 1.38, a WHIP of 0.88, and 81 Strikeouts in only 52 and 1/3 innings. Last year at Peoria, in 11 starts, he posted an ERA of 2.81 and a WHIP of 1.10. His strikeout total was still good, with 46 Ks in 41 2/3 innings. He was promoted to AA Springfield and struggled. He went 2-5 in 12 starts with a 5.47 ERA and a high 1.51 WHIP, and his strikeout total was 53 in 54 1/3 IP. I wouldn't put too much into the Struggle at Springfield. I think he will go back there to start and be in AAA Memphis at some point this season.



Gordan Graceffo age 23 @AAA Memphis 2023 Ranked 9th in the Cardinal system

Gordon Graceffo byBryanGreen via Prospects 1500

Since being drafted in 2021, Graceffo has marched through the Cardinal farm system, making it to AAA Memphis last year. He has swing-and-miss stuff, averaging more than a strikeout per inning over his career. He is still a work in progress and had excellent numbers in A and High A and good numbers in AA. At Memphis, this past season saw a higher ERA and fewer innings pitched per game, which is not all uncommon when some guys step up in competition the way he has. I think he is at least another year away, and we will see his numbers improve as he adjusts to AAA this year.



Tahoah Roby age: 22 AA Springfield in 2023 Ranked 3rd in the Cardinal system

Tekoah Roby by PJ Maigi via Springfield Cardinals

Of all the prospects we picked up in mid-season trades last year, I think he has the biggest potential to make the big show. Roby possesses good swing-and-miss stuff, with a high 90s fastball complemented by a better-than-average curveball. He also throws a Slider and Change-up. He averages 1.2 Ks per inning. He hasn't been able to go long in games (averaging only about 4 1/3 innings per outing), but he was rehabbing a shoulder injury when the Cardinals acquired him. SO look for him to start extending his start. He is listed as AA but should see Memphis this year with a shot as a late-season call-up, with a better-than-average shot at challenging for a pitching staff spot in 2025.




Here are three guys who we could see playing at Busch Stadium this year.

Thomas Saggese, age 21 @ AAA Memphis in 2023, Ranked 5th in the Cardinal System

After the season, he had last year at AA Frisco .313/.379/.512 with 15 HRs and 78 RBIs in 367 AB's. and at AA Springfield, going .331/.403/.662 with 10 HRs and 29 RBIs in only 149 AB's. he got a taste of AAA Memphis .207/.270/.345 with 1 HR and 4 RBIs. It was a minimal sample size with only 58 AB's. So, I suspect he will be starting the season in Memphis. But he is having an excellent spring, and with the very real possibility of Edman and Nootbaar on the IL starting the year, a case could be made for Saggese.


Drew Rom, age 24, On the MLB roster in 2023, Ranked 29th in the Cardinal system.

Rom showed promise with Baltimore through high-A ball. He struggled in AA and AAA in the Baltimore system. After the trade, in two games at Memphis, he again showed promise, showing a sub-1 ERA(0.83) in 11 innings, striking out 18 and walking only 4. His call-up to St Louis in late August did not go well. he had a decent four-game stretch after his first game but then took a downturn in his last three games. However, he did show the potential that the Cardinals saw in him. This spring, in two limited outings, he has been virtually unhittable. If this becomes the reality for Rom, he could be a piece of the puzzle.

A couple of other guys who could get a roster spot due to the injuries to Tommy Edman and Lars Nootbaar. They are Matt Koperniak 26 and Michael Siani 24.

Siani is a CF and could fill the role of 4th Outfielder. He was picked up on Waivers from Cincinnati last September. He is only hitting .267 this Spring, but he leads the team in walks with 7, giving him an OBP of .522 OBP. More importantly, he is on the 40 man roster he is on the 40-man roster. Koperniak, is a right fielder and not quite a kid at 26, but he is ripping the cover off the ball. .462/.500/.538. He put up very good numbers in Springfield and Memphis last year. the issue with him would be that someone would have to come off the 40-man to make room for him.


I think the youth movement is in full swing in St Louis and there is a lot of good young talent to take a look at. So, if you are near a St Louis minor league affiliate, consider taking in a game or two this year and see who could be in a St Louis uniform in the next couple of years.



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