Most of the Cardinals' Opening Day roster is set, even this early in the off-season. There may be a few new acquisitions, and hopefully, some of them will be splashy! But, for the most part, it's easy to know who's going to make the team. Veterans like Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado have their spots locked down. The newly acquired Sonny Gray will slot in at the top of the rotation. But, not every spot on the 26-man roster is filled. There are question marks in several key areas, including center field, the bullpen, and the bench. It's likely that at least a few of these spots will be filled by prospects making their major league debuts.
These are important opportunities for young players in the organization. Sometimes, these early-season debuts mean relatively little, but every once in a while, a relatively unknown player finds success. Brendan Donovan snuck onto the roster before the 2022 season and broke out in a huge way. Once an unheralded seventh-round pick, Donovan has become one of the most valuable assets to the organization. In other instances, the Cardinals decide to give their top prospects a shot at starting the season with the team.
In 2023, Jordan Walker's epic run through Spring Training landed him a spot on the Opening Day roster. Though he struggled defensively, it's clear that he has a long future with the organization. This article will take a closer look at five prospects with a chance of making their major league debuts on Opening Day 2024. Let's dive in!
Svanson is not a top prospect. In fact, most fans probably don't know his name. He was acquired from the Blue Jays in exchange for Paul DeJong at last season's trade deadline. Many fans ignored the minor trade and those who did largely expressed disappointment. Svanson was already 24 and had just reached AA in the week before the deadline. He seemed unlikely to contribute before 2025, if ever.
Yet, his performance over the following months changed that narrative. Svanson quickly took hold of the closer role in Springfield. 35 days after the trade I'd already eaten my words and changed my tune! Svanson's big fastball stands out in the system. After such a strong finish, it's possible the hard throwing righty gets a shot to help the major league bullpen. He's especially important considering the relative lack of relief prospects in the system.
If the Cardinals make a few more moves to round out their bullpen, Svanson's odds of making the Opening Day roster would shrink considerably, though a strong spring could still vault him into the Cardinals' plans. If he doesn't make the roster, he should start at AAA Memphis, and he'll have a great chance to reach the big leagues by midsummer.