This data-driven St. Louis Cardinals' 2023 prospect ranking is the best I've seen
The St. Louis Cardinals have seen their farm system highlighted around the league all off-season by national outlets, but the best breakdown I have seen has come from voices closer to home.
Known on Twitter as @CardinalsReek and @KareemSSN, the two partnered together to create a top 12 ranking of the Cardinals' prospects, and did a phenomenal job, providing in-depth breakdowns that blend the eye test with analytics in a way that I have not seen up until this point. The two also received help from @HjerpeFan and @InsidetheBird1 on breakdowns of Connor Hjerpe and Joshua Baez, as well as @kyler416, who provided tons of GIFs the help illustrate their analysis further.
Before I do a brief overview of some of my thoughts on their work, please check out their full breakdown "Data Driven Top 12 St. Louis Cardinals' Prospects". It's truly one of the best write-ups I've seen in a long time, and the crew put a ton of time and energy into providing excellent content for Cardinals' fans on these emerging talents.
Looking at the data, it's easy to get excited about the future
I won't spoil their whole list, but you'll notice that on top of highlighting top-tier prospects like Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn, and Tink Hence, they also provided in-depth looks at prospects that may be lesser known to many, but they seem to think will have bright futures compared to what the national media currently sees. For example, you won't see names like Michael McGreevy or Matthew Liberatore in their top 12, but you will get excited about RHP Freddy Pacheco and C Jimmy Crooks III, who few are talking about at this point.
Here's a taste of what you'll get when you check out their breakdowns. Jordan Walker consistently receives high praise from everyone around baseball, but few give much reasoning outside of basic stats and what they see with their eyes. Here is an example of how their analysis separates them from others when talking about Walker's hit tool:
"Jordan Walker struck out at a 21.6% clip last year which is a relatively average mark, but his BABIP skills are phenomenal due to hitting the ball so hard. Walker’s .365 BABIP helped him hit .307 on the season. Walker made contact 67.4% of the time in 2022, which might seem concerning at first glance, but due to his zone aggressiveness, he will overperform those numbers. Walker’s 75.9% Z-Swing% is in elite territory and would rank 11th in the MLB in 2022 behind hitters like Corey Seager, Kyle Tucker, and Rafael Devers."- Jacob E and Kareem H
If you read the full breakdown, you'll see the difference between those who just rave about Walker's hit tool, and their analysis bat puts real data behind what makes Walker so special. This is not a knock against other outlets, it just goes to show you how in the weeds these guys get to provide this kind of stuff.
Going off of Walker's write-up again, something else I loved about their breakdown is how they do a bit of myth-busting as well. One narrative that has gone around recently is that Walker's numbers are right in line with Dylan Carlson's last season in Double-A and Triple-A. If you look at basic counting stats, it can look like that. But when you look at the batted-ball metrics that Jacob and Kareem rely on, Walker blows Carlson out of the water when it comes to their power.
There is so much content to break down over at their full rankings, and I want to say again that everyone should go check out their work. Please drop them a follow on Twitter as well, and let them know what you think! I couldn't help but get excited about the future of Cardinals' baseball, and I hope you get that impression too.