Keep an eye on this St Louis Cardinals relief prospect

Since coming over to the Cardinals in the Paul DeJong trade, Matt Svanson has emerged as Springfield's closer. This emergence is exciting, and yet another sign that the Cardinals did well at the 2023 deadline.
Springfield Cardinals v Amarillo Sod Poodles
Springfield Cardinals v Amarillo Sod Poodles / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

As the deadline neared, the Cardinals became more and more inclined to sell. When it finally arrived, they shipped out Cabrera, Montgomery, Flaherty, Stratton, Hicks, and DeJong. Most agreed that the Cardinals had done well, as the 10 players they received helped to restock what a thin farm system. Those ten players are detailed here, and it's clear that not all are valued equally. Some, like Thomas Saggese, seem primed to contribute in the near future, while others, such as Zack Showalter and Sammy Hernandez are far less proven.

I singled out Matt Svanson as perhaps the least interesting player in this group, though he's done his best to change that perception. Svanson, at 24 years old, was on the verge of becoming a non-prospect. He'd never pitched above the Advanced-a level, and it seemed aggressive for the Cardinals to immediately assign him to Springfield, their AA affiliate. However, it also seemed like his last chance. An aggressive placement in the upper levels of the minors was probably the only way Svanson remained on the organization's radar heading into 2024.

If he pitched well, which he has, he'd have the chance to open the season with Memphis, leaving the door open for a major league debut at some point in 2024. Because Svanson is a reliever, these huge jumps are possible. Reliever sample sizes are much smaller than that of starters, and teams generally rely more on minor league bullpen depth than they do on minor-league starter depth. If Svanson reaches Triple-A, he is just a roster move away from joining St. Louis' big league squad.

Svanson's overall statistics have rebounded from a rough start. In his last seven appearances, he's been nearly perfect. This is exactly the type of run that convinces an organization to promote a reliever. Perhaps we'll see him in an off-season league as well. The Cardinals gave Connor Thomas, another aging prospect, a shot at the Arizona Fall League. He was outstanding, and that performance landed him firmly on the club's radar. Unfortunately Thomas has yet to make the best of that opportunity, and his status as a starter probably influenced the club's decision to invest heavily in his development.

It's encouraging to see Svanson making the most of his new chance in St. Louis. His success is part of a pattern, as Prieto, Saggese, Roby, Kloffenstein, and Rom have all found significant success since reaching St. Louis. Svanson's name can now be added to that list! It will be fascinating to see how the Cardinals respond to his newfound effectiveness, and whether they continue to promote him aggressively.