Cardinals' Tier 1 Prospects
Even within Tier 1, there is a bit of a "tier within a tier" going on here, as the likes of Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn, and Tink Hence boast the potential to be superstar talents, while Gordon Graceffo and Alec Burleson could be All-Stars when they hit their peaks.
Jordan Walker, who is a top 10 prospect in all of baseball and fighting for the title of number 1 in all of the league, is the best-hitting prospect St. Louis has had since Albert Pujols and Oscar Taveras. Walker projects to be an elite hitter whose physical tools could allow him to hit for a ton of power, steal bags, and get on base at a high level. Walker, who will be just 21 years old on Opening Day, could earn a start at Busch Stadium against the Toronto Blue Jays with a strong Spring Training. Even if he does not make the roster, he will be an impact bat for the Cardinals at some point in 2023.
Masyn Winn broke out in a big way in 2022, showing that he has the bat-to-ball skills to be an elite shortstop if his development continues. There have never been questions about his potential to be a star defensively, but now he is using those physical tools to make an impact at the plate as well.
Tink Hence is extremely raw, especially when it comes to taking on the workload needed to be an ace for a big-league staff. But in his short sample size in 2022, Hence was dominant, and showed both St. Louis and talent evaluators around the league just how high of a ceiling he has.
Alec Burleson rose all the way up to the big league roster in 2022 in all 972 minor league at-bats due to his ability to just plain hit. In 2022, he slashed .331/.372/.532 with 20 HR and 87 RBI in 109 games for Triple-A Memphis. Some fans were disappointed by his big league debut, but 53 at-bats down the stretch in September is far from a legitiment sample size.
Gordon Graceffo may have been the biggest surprise in the Cardinals system this past season, as he had an excellent year across High-A and Double-A, posting a 2.93 ERA in 139.1 innings of work. Most scouts currently project Graceffo to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter, but it's clear the Cardinals think he could be even better than that.
On top of this "Tier 1" talent, the Cardinals have other youngsters who should be valuable contributors in the near future.