ST. LOUIS – In most instances, teams that have 13 rookies make their MLB debuts are struggling through dreadful seasons and are fully entrenched in rebuilding mode.
However, in the instance of the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals, they likely wouldn’t be where they are now without the steady infusion of young talent from their deep farm system.
Even though the Cardinals have sent many of their prized prospects to St. Louis to contribute to this season’s big league effort – namely, second baseman Nolan Gorman, right-handed pitcher Andre Pallante, utilityman Brendan Donovan and slugger Juan Yepez – the farm system is still among the deepest and most talented in all of baseball. Not only do the Cardinals have one of the brightest Minor League stars in 6-foot-5, 225-pound Jordan Walker, but they also have tremendous depth with six players ranked in MLB Pipeline’s newest Top 100 prospect ranking. Prospects such as Walker, shortstop Masyn Winn, right-handed pitcher Gordon Graceffo, 6-foot-4 lefty Matthew Liberatore and sweet-swinging outfielder Alec Burleson should keep the Cardinals stocked with talent for years to come.
The Cardinals six Top 100 prospects are tied with the Orioles and Rangers for the second-most, trailing only the Dodgers’ seven prospects on the list. The Reds, Guardians and Pirates each have five Top 100 prospects.
Here’s a look at the Cardinals top prospects:
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the preseason list:
Jump: Inohan Paniagua, RHP (Preseason: 27 | Midseason: 13) – The righty out of Dominican Republic excelled at Palm Beach (107 Ks/23 walks in 99 innings over 17 starts) and earned a promotion to High-A Peoria, where he has gone 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA in four starts. In 21 2/3 innings, Paniagua has nearly three times as many strikeouts (21) as walks (eight) while holding hitters to a .211 batting average.
Fall: Luken Baker, 1B (Preseason: 11 | Midseason: Not ranked) – The 6-foot-4, 280-pounder doesn’t really have a path to the Major Leagues, as he is blocked by Paul Goldschmidt. Baker has 20 home runs and 59 RBI this season for Triple-A Memphis, but his .237 batting average, .736 OPS and 27 percent strikeout rate leave a lot to be desired.
New to the list
Here are the players added to the Top 30 from outside the organization:
OF Alec Burleson (No. 5 Cardinals/No. 93 MLB): Teams can never have too many left-handed hitters off the bench late in the season and in the playoffs, and the 23-year-old Burleson fits that bill perfectly. After hitting at three levels of the Minor Leagues last season, Burleson has slashed .331/.374/.545 with a .919 OPS and 20 home runs, 19 doubles and 76 RBIs in 2022 for Triple-A Memphis. Most importantly, the lefty has destroyed right-handed pitching this season to the tune of a .337 batting average and a .970 OPS with 18 home runs and 66 RBIs. That could come in handy in the playoffs for a Cardinals team that could face power righty arms such as Corbin Burnes, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Brandon Woodruff and Spencer Strider in the playoffs.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 60 -- Alec Burleson
Power: 65 -- Jordan Walker
Run: 65 -- Masyn Winn
Arm: 80 -- Masyn Winn
Field: 60 -- Mayn Winn
Fastball: 65 -- Freddy Pacheco
Curveball: 60 -- Inohan Paniagua (Tink Hence)
Slider: 60 -- Pete Hansen (Connor Thomas, Andree Granillo)
Changeup: 60 -- Austin Love
Control: 60 -- Pete Hansen