5 prospects who can make the St. Louis Cardinals' Opening Day roster

The Cardinals have a number of exciting prospects, and these five could make the Opening Day roster.

Springfield Cardinals v Amarillo Sod Poodles
Springfield Cardinals v Amarillo Sod Poodles / John E. Moore III/GettyImages
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Gordon Graceffo

Graceffo, like Svanson and the rest of the players on this list not named Victor Scott, will probably debut in the bullpen. That's because the Cardinals' rotation is mostly set. Gray will pitch at the top, Mikolas and Matz, the lone holdovers from 2023, will pitch in the middle spots, and Gibson and Lynn will fill out the back end. Should they struggle, young pitchers like Graceffo or McGreevy may receive opportunities to start later in the season. However, considering the fact that this rotation is owed somewhere around 80MM this season, it's safe to say they are the Cardinals' plan A.

Graceffo, a fifth-rounder out of Villanova, showed promise almost immediately. In limited action in 2021, he dominated A ball, earning an aggressive promotion for the start of the 2022 season. He was even better with A+ Peoria and finished the 2022 season in Springfield, where he took a step back but remained competitive. The Cardinals had high hopes for him in 2023. Perhaps strong numbers could lead to opportunities to crack the big league rotation.

Unfortunately, his season was as disastrous as the major league club's season. Graceffo pitched to a 4.92 ERA in just 86 innings. He battled injuries and ineffectiveness all year, ending the year on a sour note with a dreadful September. Graceffo's 2023 truly represents a lost season. To be his best going forward, he'll have to forget that 2023 ever happened. Although, even in a bad season, there were moments worth remembering, like this start from August 16th.

So why could Graceffo be on the Cardinals' radar after such a season? There are two things to love about him: his fastball and his command. Graceffo boasts one of the best fastballs in the system. He's the most advanced of the Cardinals' "power pitchers," an archetype of pitcher they have recently returned to developing. At his best, Graceffo's fastball touches 96 and moves well. His strong command gives him a solid floor, meaning Graceffo should be able to someday fill a spot in a major league rotation.

But, at the moment the Cardinals don't need that. What they do need is a strong crop of middle-inning relievers. Graceffo can pitch multiple innings, has a strong fastball and an excellent slider, and won't issue too many walks. There's a great chance he will factor into the team's bullpen plans in 2024, and like the rest of the names on this list, a strong spring could accelerate his timetable. If they decide not to add him to the roster, he'll likely continue to start in AAA.