This Cardinals' prospect is "primed" to break out next year

Two prospect analysts predict this prospect to break out in 2024 for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals / Elsa/GettyImages
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For St. Louis Cardinals' prospect Won-Bin Cho, the decision to leave his homeland of South Korea and come to the United States to be drafted into Major League Baseball was an easy one. Cho, only eighteen at the time, was signed via International Free Agency in January 2022. He started his professional career off at the Florida Complex League that year and saw seventy-six at-bats the same year he was drafted.

MLB.com recently released a list of prospects who could have stellar 2024 seasons. The authors named Won-Bin Cho as the Cardinals' candidate to break out next year. Cho is a power-hitting outfielder who boasts decent athleticism. For the time being, he can play center field, but as he develops and gains strength, he will likely slot into a corner outfield spot.

Last year was Cho's second season in professional baseball, and he played the entire season at Low-A Palm Beach. In 452 plate appearances (102 games), Cho slashed .270/.376/.389 to go along with seven home runs, fifty-two RBIs, and thirty-two stolen bases. He played every outfield position, but most of his innings came in right field.

"The left-handed slugger has the potential for above-average power and getting out of the pitcher-friendly FSL could be a big step toward realizing it, along with an increased focus on elevating the ball after hitting the ball on the ground 50 percent of the time in ’23."

Jim Callis and Sam Dykstra

Jim Callis and Sam Dykstra of MLB.com note Won-Bin Cho's adjustments in his batted-ball profile. The chart below details his statistics from these past two seasons.

Season

Level

Line Drive %

Groundball %

Flyball %

HR/FB

wRC+

2022

Rookie

18.4%

34.7%

46.9%

4.3%

118

2023

Low-A

24.6%

50%

25.4%

9.9%

114

Won-Bin Cho seemed to make quite a drastic change to his swing this past year. He elevated the ball significantly less often, but he saw an increased home run rate (seven in 452 plate appearances in 2023 versus only one in 100 plate appearances in 2022). His line drive percentage increased by a fair amount, but his ground ball rate is where he saw the greatest difference.

His BABIP increased greatly as well between 2022 and 2023 -- from .313 to .341. The Florida State League saps power at dramatic rates, but Cho was still able to have decent power numbers at Palm Beach. Should he lean more into line drives like he did in 2023 and return slightly to his fly ball percentages, his power output will certainly increase.

Cho's strikeout rate decreased drastically between his two professional seasons, as he was able to go from striking out 27% of the time to just 21.7% in low-A. His walk rate did decrease as well, thus leading to a lower on-base percentage in 2023 compared to 2022.

If Won-Bin Cho can continue to hit line drives, strike out less, walk more, and play strong defense in the outfield, the Cardinals may have a strong future outfield prospect. As Callis and Dykstra state in their piece, "the 2024 season could go time" for the Cardinals' No. 13 ranked prospect. He has clearly been working hard this offseason to maintain his craft.

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