St. Louis Cardinals 2024 Top 30 Prospects List: #30-21

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29. RHR Matt Svanson (2023 level: Double-A)

The Cardinals acquired Svanson from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Paul DeJong at the 2023 trade deadline. Svanson is a sinker/slider relief pitching prospect with an amalgamation of extreme run on his sinker and an unorthodox delivery, which makes him extremely difficult to square up.

Svanson pitched 53 1/3 innings between the Cardinals and Blue Jays farm systems; take a guess how many total home runs he gave up? ZERO. Among pitchers in the minors with 50 or more innings, Svanson was 1 of only 13 minor leaguers who did not give up a single home run in 2023. He also had the 2nd lowest ERA out of that group, only behind former 1st round pick Chase Petty.

Svanson combined for a 1.86 ERA between 3 levels in the Cardinals and Blue Jays organizations. He struck out 30.2% of hitters while walking only 7.5%. With that great strikeout and walk rates and knowing he didn't give up a single home run, his peripherals must be incredible, right? Svanson ranked 1st in the Cardinals minor league system in FIP (20 IP minimum) and was 2nd in xFIP, only to a pitcher I have higher on the list.

Svanson is an elite groundball-getter racking up a groundball rate north of 60%. In Statcast-tracked games last year, Svanson averaged 92.9 mph on his sinker (up to 98 mph in the past) with 7.9 inches of IVB and 16.4 inches of run. For reference, the average 92.9 mph sinker in MLB had 15.2 inches of run. Based on watching him at the end of last year, I would be willing to wager his velocity is closer to 95 mph in a larger sample. The pitch grades out above average but might face some trouble against lefties due to the run it gets.

Svanson also has a mid-80s slider with around 5 inches of IVB and 5 inches of sweep. It doesn't stand out stuff-wise but tunnels well off his sinker. Svanson also throws the pitch a ton and has solid command of it. I have some questions on how Svanson's arsenal will play at the higher levels against opposite-handed batters. Adding another pitch, whether it be a harder-breaking ball or a splitter/changeup, might be vital for him. Regardless, his production at every stop in his Minor League career speaks for itself and lands him in the top 30.