One of the silver linings of the St. Louis Cardinals' disappointing 2023 season continues to be the young talent they accumulated at the Trade Deadline. Arguably the biggest prize of all, infielder Thomas Saggese, continues to catch the eyes of talent and was just voted by baseball executives as one of the most underrated prospects in baseball, according to a recent survey done by MLB Pipeline.
Saggese had an excellent 2023 campaign, winning the Texas League Most Valuable Player while posting a .904 OPS on the year. Saggese is just 21 years old and has found his success as a bat-first player who uses his ability to barrel up baseballs and aggression early in counts to do most of his damage. While he may not be a plus contact hitter, the quality of the contact he makes elevates his bat to the levels it reached this past season.
He won't wow anyone with the glove, but Saggese boasts the kind of versatility that will help him get into the Cardinals lineup when he finally makes his debut in St. Louis. His best positions are second base and third base, but he's seen time at shortstop as well and can play there if needed. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Cardinals try him out at first base or in the corner outfield spots in Spring Training and Triple-A to increase his chances of playing.
Saggese came over to the Cardinals in the Jordan Montgomery/Chris Stratton trade alongside top prospect Tekoah Roby and left-handed reliever John King. The Rangers were in need of another front-line starter to make their World Series run, and they paid a high price to achieve that. You might be familiar with Rangers' rookie Evan Carter, who played a large role in their World Series run this year. Baseball America compared Carter to Saggese, his teammate from Double-A earlier this season, and found some really critical areas that Saggese actually bested Carter in.
Carter is the 8th-ranked prospect in all of baseball and is one of the favorites for American League Rookie fo the Year. No, Saggese is not a better prospect than Carter, but it just goes to show how good of a campaign Saggese had last year, and why there is so much promise in his young bat.
The Cardinals appear to be very bullish on him as well, and I understand why. I'm guilty of making Saggese the centerpiece of trade packages to acquire top-end starters, but that has much more to do with the Cardinals' depth of infielders than any lack of enthusiasm regarding Saggese.
While it's likely we see Saggese start the 2024 season in Memphis, it won't be long before his bat forces its way to St. Louis. There are a ton of talented young position players in the Cardinals organization right now, which bodes well for the club's long-term aspirations.