Although I said Hence may have been the fastest riser in terms of prospect status, Gordon Graceffo could easily give Hence a run for his money.
In 2022, Graceffo posted a 2.97 ERA in 139.1 innings across High-A and Double-A ball. His 9 SO/9 rate and 0.94 WHIP indicate a lot of success to come, and is consistently praised for having a wide arsenal of above average pitches to lean on.
While Hence has concerns about his frame and near-term workload, Graceffo could find his way into the Cardinals' starting rotation in 2023 if the opportunity arises. Right now, the five-man group appears to be set in stone, but a lot could change by the end of 2023. Adam Wainwright seems to be dealing with more velocity regression, so it's fair to wonder what kind of starter he will be throughout the season. Steven Matz was injured much of last year but projects to be at the back of the rotation, so he could be someone Graceffo pushes out.
The more likely scenario would be Graceffo receiving an opportunity due to an injury at some point this season. Every rotation deals with injuries over the course of a season, and this is where I think Graceffo makes his debut and potentially sticks there for the remainder of the season. Graceffo's talent is too high to wait on and compared to their other rotation depth arms, I'd rather tap into the potential of Graceffo than the high floor of other guys.