The Major League Baseball Rule 5 Draft was held on Wednesday in Nashville as a part of the 2023 MLB Winter Meetings. In this draft, players who were not added to the club's 40-man roster at the mid-November deadline are eligible to be drafted by an opposing team. If the drafted player is not placed on the team's 26-man roster for the full season, they are offered back to the original team for $50,000. St. Louis chose four players and did not lose any of their own.
Blake Newberry at VivaElBirdos wrote a great preview piece regarding the Rule 5 Draft. In his article, he stated that Ian Bedell and Leonardo Taveras had the greatest chance of being plucked by opposing teams. Bedell and Taveras, both pitchers in their mid-twenties, have been toiling in the lower end of the minors, but they have the potential to be strong pitchers in the majors.
To me, the more notable player of these two is Ian Bedell. Bedell was drafted in the fourth round of the COVID-shortened 2020 MLB Draft (#122 overall). He has spent time primarily in High-A Peoria, but he also was placed in Low-A Palm Beach in 2022 to help rehab from the Tommy John Surgery he had in 2021. He is currently the team's 16th-ranked prospect according to MLB.com.
During his three minor league seasons, Bedell has started 22 games and been a reliever in 13 of them. He has a career 2.67 ERA in 104.1 innings. He has struck out 120 batters, and hitters have a .237 batting average against him. Bedell has an above-average K-rate (9.94 per nine innings in 2023), but he also walks batters at a relatively high rate (3.19 per nine innings in 2023). Most of the damage done against Bedell comes in the air, as his groundball percentage last season was just 39.3%.
Ian Bedell's fastball is his most dominant pitch, and it consistently sits in the 91-94 MPH range with the ability to reach 95 MPH. Given time, Bedell could find his changeup; his control is above average, so his floor is strong. Bedell projects to be a starting pitcher. Once he returns to full strength after his surgery, his innings total will creep up.
While it is very likely that Bedell starts the season at AA Springfield, he could end the year in AAA Memphis. He just turned twenty-four, so he will spend the entire season at that age. He is an older prospect, but he doesn't walk many batters, he has a deep pitch mix, and his control is one of the strongest aspects of his game.
Don't expect Bedell to be a major league starter next year, but St. Louis should be grateful that he wasn't chosen in the Rule 5 Draft. They can get another year of statistics for him post-surgery, and St. Louis can maintain its depth in the pipeline. It is possible the Cardinals package Bedell in a trade this offseason or next year, but I would personally like to see how he pitches more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery.