As the Cardinals closed out a 3-0 win over the rival Cubs on July 30th, fans throughout the stadium became aware that they had just made two major deals in rapid succession. The first sent reliever Jordan Hicks to Toronto, while the second shipped starter Jordan Montgomery and reliever Chris Stratton to Texas. In return, the Cardinals received five players: three right-handed starters, one left-handed reliever, and a middle infielder. This article will deal primarily with infielder Thomas Saggese.
Saggese, pronounced soo-JAY-see according to Baseball Reference, was selected by the Rangers in the fifth round of the 2020 draft with the 145th overall pick. He was drafted out of Carlsbad HS in California at just 18. Saggese made his professional debut the following season and enjoyed a strong first campaign in A ball. He hit .256 with a .834 OPS, flashing decent power with 10 home runs. In 2022, Saggese continued to impress, batting .312 and increasing his home run total to 15.
Now playing at the AA level, Saggese has continued to mash. He's currently hitting .313 with an OPS of .891. As the Rangers hoped, Saggese has continued to tap into his plus power. Interestingly, he has been able to do so without sacrificing his strong contact skills. Saggese has already clubbed 15 home runs and will almost certainly add to that total, setting a new career high in the process.
The Rangers have promoted him aggressively, and it is probable that the Cardinals continue that pattern. Saggesse may see time at AAA by the end of the year. It will be interesting to see where the Cardinals' AAA affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds, deploy Saggese. He boasts positional flexibility, an attribute the Cardinals have targeted over the last several years. Saggese grades out as a solid defender with some defensive upside, especially at second base.
"Saggese saw time at all four infield positions in 2022, getting most of his action at second and third base. As a decent athlete with fringy speed and average arm strength, he's best suited for second, where he's a sure-handed defender."- MLB Pipeline
Saggese immediately becomes one of St. Louis' most exciting position player prospects. He slots in as the Cardinals' eighth-best prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He's a player that provides a little bit of everything. He hits for average, has sneaky pop, is liable to steal a few bases, and plays solid defense at multiple positions. Saggese has also been recognized for outstanding conduct on and off the field, taking home Texas' True Ranger award in 2022. He will receive an opportunity to compete for a spot on the 2024 team and is likely to make his debut by the end of next season.
While GM John Mozeliak previously stated that the 2023 deadline would be about "pitching, pitching, pitching," it is important that the Cardinals continue to restock their strong position player pipeline. Saggese provides the organization with near-MLB-ready depth and opens up more options for the club. Perhaps his presence could make the Cardinals more comfortable about trading Paul DeJong. Saggese could even pave the way for Tommy Edman to become available.
With so many options in the middle infield, questions will likely persist into the off-season. It is also important to note that more moves could be imminent. Regardless, Saggese is a strong addition to St. Louis' farm system, which likely has additional reinforcements on the way.