RHP Leonardo Taveras
Taveras is a bit of an unknown. Whether it's been off-the-field issues or injuries, there's always been something keeping Taveras off the field. Now he's 25 and pitched at A+ Peoria last season. He was good, but not dominant. In just 20.1 innings, he had a 3.10 ERA. That innings number is so low thanks to a PED suspension, which ended his season in May. So why do I think he could make the Opening Day roster?
Taveras, like the other names on this list, has a great fastball and solid control. He's a high-octane arm who can occasionally reach triple digits. He also generates a ton of whiffs. Over the past few months, Mozeliak and other officials have described a desire to move away from contact-inducing pitchers and towards pitchers with "strikeout stuff." Taveras certainly fits into the latter of those two categories.
Though he pitched at A+ last season, he reached AA in 2022. He's more advanced than his 2023 season would suggest. But, there are some factors working against him as well. One of these is his inexperience at the upper levels of the minors. He pitched at AA in 2022 but only made seven appearances. He's never pitched with AAA Memphis. It would be aggressive enough for the Cardinals to promote him to AAA to begin the season. Also working against him is his 40-man roster status. He was not added to the 40-man roster earlier this off-season, and though he wasn't selected in the Rule 5 draft, he still needs to be added to the roster in order to secure a spot on Opening Day. He's a bit of a long shot, but he certainly has the potential to blitz through spring training and make his debut with the Cardinals sooner rather than later.