Cardinals' top pitching prospect rocketing through the minors

Quinn Mathews has already played at 3 different minor league levels this year. Could he ascend all 5 this year?
Jun 23, 2021; Omaha, Nebraska, USA; Stanford Cardinal pitcher Quinn Mathews (26) pitches against the Vanderbilt Commodores in the third inning at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 23, 2021; Omaha, Nebraska, USA; Stanford Cardinal pitcher Quinn Mathews (26) pitches against the Vanderbilt Commodores in the third inning at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
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Quinn Mathews became known in college for throwing 156 pitches for Standford against Texas a little over a year ago. The pitch count was maligned among baseball fans, but Mathews put on a masterful display of dominance that featured him striking out 16 batters in a complete game; his performance led his team to an 8-3 victory over the Longhorns.

About a month later, the St. Louis Cardinals selected the tall lefty with their 4th-round pick, #122 overall. Mathews was an advanced prospect after playing 4 years at Stanford, so it was always assumed he would move through a system relatively quickly. He started this year at low-A Palm Beach for the Cardinals, and he was swiftly moved up to high-A Peoria after just 6 starts.

Mathews once again finds his name being called as a player who is being promoted, this time to Springfield. This will be the third level that he'll pitch in within 1 season, and he could go even higher by season's end.

Having jumped 3 levels already in just 13 games, it's possible that Mathews is able to see every level of minor league baseball in 1 season. Should he continue to pitch well and an opportunity arise at the major league level, Mathews could be the first prospect to jump 4 levels in the Cardinals' system since Maikel Cleto in 2011. According to my research, should Mathews ascend all the way to the majors, he would be the first player in Cardinal history to play at every level in 1 season.

Mathews has been dominant at each level he's pitched this year; across two leagues, he has a 2.18 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and he's struck out 110 batters in just 74.1 innings. There have been few holds in his game thus far, as he's not allowing home runs, hits, walks, or hard contact. He's getting whiffs at a rate in excess of 36.5% between the two leagues.

Prior to the season, Mathews wasn't on many national prospect lists; in fact, he was only ranked 20th in the Cardinals' system. He has since made his way onto at least 1 national list just this month. as he was added to Baseball America's top-100 list.

With top-tier pitchers like Quinn Mathews, Tink Hence, Cooper Hjerpe, and Tekoah Roby at the top of the team's prospect list, the Cardinals can finally rest easy with their pitching future. It's been quite some time since the organization had multiple pitchers on prospect rankings like Baseball America's. Homegrown pitchers are exactly what will set the team up for success both now and in the long run.

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