In what has been a frustrating season for the St. Louis Cardinals as a whole, there continue to be promising names rising through the Cardinals' pipeline. Kiley McDaniel of ESPN just put out his midseason top 50 MLB prospects list, and it featured two Cardinals in the top 30.
Shortstop Masyn Winn, who is with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds and is knocking on the door of a call-up to St. Louis, ranked No.16 on McDaniel's top-50 list, and right-handed pitcher Tink Hence of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals came in at No. 27 on his list.
Oddly enough, even though Winn is ranked as the No. 16 prospect in all of baseball according to McDaniel, he's still only the 7th-highest-ranked shortstop on that list, showing just how deep the position is in MiLB at the moment. Everyone knows that Orioles' Jackson Holliday, son of Cardinals' Hall of Famer Matt Holliday, is ranked number one on every prospect list, but names like Colson Montgomery, Jackson Merrill, Marcelo Mayer, Carson Williams, and Adael Amador all rank higher than Winn as shortstops. Winn is the only one of that group at the Triple-A level though, and has been mashing pitching over his last month and a half of baseball.
McDaniel had this to say about Winn as a prospect.
"Winn is a plus runner who will comfortably stick at short and has an 80-grade cannon for an arm. He's no slouch at the plate, with plus bat-to-ball ability and 15-20 homer upside."- Kiley McDaniel, ESPN.com
Hence continues to rise up prospect boards as the Cardinals let him go deeper and deeper into ballgames. The arm talent and results have always been there, with the biggest knock being whether or not he could give enough innings to be a starter at the big-league level. Not only is Hence now the No. 27 prospect in baseball according to McDaniel, but he's also now the 4th-best RHP prospect in the game and the 5th-best pitching prospect overall. McDaniel seems to think that Hence may make an impact on St. Louis in 2024.
"Hence checks a lot of boxes with a fresh, loose arm and four above-average-to-plus pitches for strikes. He's been slowly built up, still only at 69⅓ innings this season as a career high, so next year may be when he gets a taste of the big leagues in a platform year in order to get a full season-long workload in 2025."- Kiley McDaniel, ESPN.com
Hence has struggled in his last two outings for the Springfield Cardinals, but I wouldn't be concerned about how those starts went for him. He turned 21 just a few weeks ago and is entering a hitters league at Double-A, and has already surpassed his career high in innings at this point. The struggles right now are necessary for Hence to figure out how to pitch late into seasons and will help him to stretch out even further in 2024 so he can be an impact starter for St. Louis in 2025.
Winn and Hence highlight a prospect group that has been revamped in recent weeks by a strong MLB draft and trade deadline returns. The Cardinals' 2023 first-round pick, Chase Davis, could find himself being a top-100 prospect soon with the upside he has as a slugger with legit outfield defense. Victor Scott II could find his way in there too, with true 80-grade speed and 80-grade defense. This doesn't even touch on guys like Tekoah Roby, Thomas Saggese, Drew Rom, Adam Kloffenstein, or Zack Showalter, who were acquired at the deadline, or mainstays like Gordon Graceffo, Cooper Hjerpe, Leonardo Bernal, and more.
The Cardinals farm system seems to be on the up as of late, even after graduating the likes of Jordan Walker, Matthew Liberatore, Ivan Herrera, and Alec Burleson, which should be extremely encouraging to Cardinals fans everywhere.