The Cardinals had a number of big leaguers and prospects breakout in 2022
Despite a disappointing ending to the 2022 season, the St. Louis Cardinals had so many encouraging storylines throughout the season. Outside of the elite performances from Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, and prime Albert Pujols making a return in the second half, there were a number of other Cardinals who out performed their expectations.
Let's look at all of the Cardinal big leaguers and prospects who broke out in 2022, and how they could be major contributors moving forward for the organization
"This was the easiest choice on the rankings. Drafted in the 8th round in 2018, Lars Nootbaar was never heralded as a top prospect, and you would even be hard-pressed to find organization rankings that had him in the Cardinals' Top 30 before the 2021 season...Nootbaar could continue his rise next year and become someone that the other three guys on this list really have to worry about stealing their playing time, but odds are he will project as the No. 4 outfielder. He proved he has the potential to start on various big league clubs, but on a contender like the Cardinals, he is best situated as the fourth outfielder and lefty bat of the bench"- Josh Jacobs
While most people would have agreed back in December 2021 that Harrison Bader, Dylan Carlson, and Tyler O'Neill had much higher ceilings, Nootbaar made even doubters like me now wonder if he can be the best of the bunch. Now, it is a legit argument about who has to most potential of that current trio.
On the season, Nootbaar slashed .228/.340/.448 with 14 HR and 40 RBI but really broke out during the second half of the season after the Bader injury. Nootbaar was one of the best hitters in baseball during July and August and finished the second half with a .846 OPS.
His mix of energy, outstanding defense, excellent on-base skills, and legit power makes Nootbaar one of the most exciting players for St. Louis entering the 2023 season. Expect the 25-year-old to hit at the top of the Cardinals lineup and cement himself as a legit player in this league.