Why are 2 outlets not optimistic about the St. Louis Cardinals farm system? Look no further than the depth — or lack of it.
We have heard a lot of praise in recent weeks and months regarding the St. Louis Cardinals farm system, especially with Jordan Walker, Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore. But that sentiment regarding their farm system is not shared by everyone.
Baseball America recently ranked the Cardinals’ farm system as No. 18 in baseball after ranking it No. 12, 14, 11, 13 and 12 in the past five seasons. Their explanation, simply, is that while Walker, Gorman and Liberatore give them three “premium prospects,” their depth falls off quickly, “but breakouts from older, Triple-A players like Lars Nootbaar and Juan Yepez help mitigate some of that.”
Jeffrey Paternostro of Baseball Prospectus, meanwhile, ranks the Cardinals’ farm system at No. 16, adding that Joshua Baez could develop into a 30-plus homer bat. He added that Alec Burleson and Masyn Wynn had “strong pro debuts” while the pitching, headlined by Liberatore, “isn’t quite as loud.” Michael McGreevy, their first round pick in 2021, provides frontline talent but Paternostro believes that Zack Thompson “is looking more relieverish.”
Still, with Walker, Gorman and Liberatore, the Cardinals boast three frontline star prospects that few teams can compete with. Gorman will debut in 2022 and could give them the potential for four 30-plus homer players along with Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill. The Cardinals are so optimistic about his bat that they had Gorman change defensive positions to second base – the Arenado trade was the driving force behind it – and are willing to sacrifice some defensive woes to get that bat into their lineup.
Internally, the Cardinals believe the upside of their lineup with Gorman in it is endless. Combine that with Walker debuting at some point in 2023, along with Liberatore being introduced to the rotation by 2022-2023, and it gives them the mix of young/veteran talent that most teams dream about.
They may not have the minor-league depth that most prospect analysts look for, and that’s okay. The Cardinals will be just fine.