St. Louis Cardinals announce Arizona Fall League roster

Jordan Walker, of the Springfield Cardinals, during opening day at Hammons Field on Friday, April 8, 2022.Openingday0663
Jordan Walker, of the Springfield Cardinals, during opening day at Hammons Field on Friday, April 8, 2022.Openingday0663 /

The St. Louis Cardinals revealed their list of players who will be in the 2023 Arizona Fall League.

The St. Louis Cardinals player development program just announced the nine players who will be on the team’s Arizona Fall League roster. The AFL is a good hint at who will debut for the St. Louis Cardinals next season. All eight players on last year’s AFL roster appeared in the major leagues this year, and eight more players will take their place this year.

The highlights are top prospects Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn. Walker has already reached Double-A at age 20. He has hit at all levels, and he could be knocking on the door if he continues to produce. Winn is a bit farther behind and may require more seasoning at the plate in the minor leagues, but he has already proven himself to be an elite fielder and displayed a cannon for an arm with the fastest non-relay infield throw ever recorded in the Statcast era, at 100.5 mph.

2020 second-round pick Tink Hence has also dominated at Single-A Palm Beach this year, amassing an eye-popping 81 strikeouts in 52.1 innings and pitching to a minuscule 1.38 ERA.

Mike Antico might be the most interesting player of the bunch. He can absolutely fly, swiping 65 bases between High-A and Double-A this year. His ability to hit is less certain, as he’s only batting .249, albeit with a bit of pop at 14 home runs. But with bigger bases and a potential increase in steals in the major leagues on the horizon, Antico could be a sneaky benefit for the Cardinals.

The remaining four players aren’t as exciting, but they could still be contributors. Connor Thomas has had his struggles at Triple-A this season, with an ERA sitting at 5.27. Pedro Pages started the season strong at the plate, but he has tailed off quite a bit and still has work to do defensively as well.

Kyle Leahy is 25 and having issues at Double-A. Last year, he went 0-8 with an 8.20 ERA, and while he has improved a bit in 2022, he needs to find another gear.  Ryan Loutos has had his warts in Memphis, surrendering almost two hits per nine innings, but at the very least, he has a good fallback option as a Washington University graduate who declined a software engineering job to pursue baseball.

Last year’s AFL dug up gems such as Lars Nootbaar, Brendan Donovan and Andre Pallante, and while some of the players on the roster this year might not reach the major leagues, it looks like it could be another fruitful season for the ever-flowing Cardinals pipeline.

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