The 5 youngest players to play for the Cardinals in each of the past 3 centuries

In the long storied history of the St. Louis Cardinals, there are some players who made their impact at a very young age.
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
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5. Shortstop Masyn Winn (2023) 21 years, 150 days

The young phenom was finally called up to the big leagues last month after a great season with Memphis. The Cardinals' 2020 2nd-round pick made a quick rise through the Cardinal farm system en route to a big league promotion at just 21 years old. MLB.com has Winn as the Cardinals' number-one prospect.

Winn has struggled at the plate in a small sample size so far, but he is coming off his first big league homer in Atlanta during this current road trip. Defensively he has been everything we've expected, a cannon of an arm, but he has the awareness to know when to use it. The Cardinals have to partially limit his number of at-bats this season regarding his rookie status, but expect him to be the Cardinals' everyday shortstop for the next several seasons.

4. Albert Pujols (2001) 21 years, 76 days

Pujols hit his way onto the Cardinals' Opening Day roster in 2001, skipping Triple-A. He would go on to have one of the greatest rookie campaigns in MLB history. Pujols had a .329/.403/.610 slash line, 37 home runs and 130 RBI. He was an All-Star, Rookie of the Year, Silver Slugger, and finished 4th in the MVP voting.

In his first few seasons in St. Louis, he did not play first base. Mark McGwire was still on the team, so Pujols got a lot of time at 3rd base. Then in the following season when the Cardinals acquired Scott Rolen, he was moved to the outfield. 1st base didn't become available until Tino Martinez's contract expired, they may not have expected Pujols to blossom so quickly as a dominant hitter in the big leagues, but the Cardinals were willing to put him at any position just to get his bat in the lineup.

3. Outfielder Magneuris Sierra (2017) 21 years, 30 days

Sierra was a speedy outfield prospect with the Cardinals before his call-up in 2017. In May of that season, Sierra made his MLB debut and got off to a very fast start at the plate. He began his career with a 9 game hitting streak which was the longest hitting streak for a Cardinal player starting his career until Jordan Walker broke that record this season.

In 22 games with the Cardinals Sierra hit .317 (all his hits were singles) and he drove in 5 runs. Sierra was one of 4 players traded to the Marlins in the Marcell Ozuna trade in the 2017 offseason, the trade that also included All-Star pitchers Sandy Alcantara and Zac Gallen.

2. Right Fielder Jordan Walker (2023) 20 years, 312 days

The path of Jordan Walker's career is very similar to Pujols. He went straight from Double-A to the big leagues after hitting himself on the way to the team, playing the outfield to get his bat in the lineup, and showing great poise and maturity at such a young age.

Walker was in the lineup on Opening Day this season, becoming the first Cardinal to appear in a game at age 20 in over two decades. He got off to a great start surpassing Sierra for having the longest hitting streak to start a career with St. Louis, then he was sent down to work on hitting the ball in the air more. He is doing that now while still hitting for average, and adding his steady improvement defensively, Walker seems to be blossoming into a future star. Cardinals fans should be very optimistic about what Jordan Walker could become for this franchise.

1. Pitcher Rick Ankiel (2000) 20 years, 101 days

Rick Ankiel was actually first called up by the Cardinals in 1999 as a teenager, but his first appearance in the 2000 season makes him the youngest player to appear in a game for the Cardinals in the 21st century. Ankiel was a flamethrower left-handed pitcher who showed signs of brilliance early on in his career. In his first two seasons, he was 11-8 with an ERA just over 3, and he had a 10 K/9 rate. Things snowballed for Ankiel though in the postseason.

In the NLDS against the Braves, Ankiel was very wild, he walked 6 batters and threw 5 wild pitches in just 2.2 innings before he was pulled. It didn't get much better in the NLCS against the Mets when he walked 5 and threw 4 wild pitches in just 1.1 inning. The control problems continued the following season which led to Ankiel trying to come back to the big leagues as a position player, since he was so young, he was able to try and revive his career.

After several seasons in the minor leagues, Ankiel finally made it back to the Cardinals as a center fielder in 2007, hitting a home run in his first game back, and he was able to have a long career despite all of his setbacks.

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