6 Cardinal players who are poised to take off in 2024

These St. Louis Cardinals players are bound to blossom in 2024.
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Zack Thompson

Zack Thompson's role has been yo-yoed around these past two seasons. In AAA Memphis, Thompson has primarily been a starting pitcher with strong statistics. However, the big league club has been insistent on keeping him in the bullpen. This offseason, Thompson was instructed to prepare for a starting pitcher role, and that could make for a strong season for the left-handed pitcher out of Selma, Indiana.

A former first-round pick, Thompson is most known for his big curveball and decent fastball. His minor league numbers are a bit misleading due to missing the 2020 minor league season, but he is known for decent control and strong strikeout numbers. His 25.1% K rate last year in the majors, when paired with his 8.7% walk rate, is what the St. Louis rotation has been desperate for these last few years.

In just one spring appearance thus far, Thompson pitched two innings, allowed one hit, struck out one batter, walked another, and didn't allow a run. He would be a player to keep an eye on this spring, if not to see what the organization does with him then to see his growth and preparation for games. He and Matthew Liberatore will likely be piggy-backing or playing in split games, as they are likely competing for one of the final bullpen spots.

Providing the 26-year-old pitcher with some assurance on his role should spell success for Thompson. He will be able to prepare for games better, and his mindset will be stronger knowing whether he'll be a starting pitcher, a reliever, or a mix between the two. Given the injury concerns with Steven Matz and the potential for underperformance from Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson, Thompson could be called upon next season to fill in 15 or so starts for the major league squad.

Whether Zack Thompson views the game from the dugout four out of five days or from behind a fence in the outfield, his 2024 season shows promise.