This flamethrower is my way-to-early favorite for the Cardinals to draft this year

Chase Burns out of Wake Forest has the stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, and he's my early "favorite" for the Cardinals to select with the 7th pick.
Tennessee pitcher Chase Burns (23) does a throat-slashing gesture while celebrating an inning-ending
Tennessee pitcher Chase Burns (23) does a throat-slashing gesture while celebrating an inning-ending / Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA

The St. Louis Cardinals have the 7th overall pick in the 2024 MLB Draft and will have the opportunity to draft some top-end talent that they rarely have access to in the backend of the first round. While the draft is still five months away, my early "favorite" for the Cardinals to select with their first-round pick has to be RHP Chase Burns out of Wake Forest.

Burns, an incoming transfer to the Wake Forest program, began his collegiate career at the University of Tennessee, flashing his crazy stuff but finding himself utilized as a reliever for them after starting his freshman year. Wake Forest is renowned for its high-level pitching lab, so Burns spending a season developing with the Deacons could be a major boost for his career.

So far, Burns is looking special in the Decaon uniform.

Burns boasted a strikeout rate north of 30% in his two seasons with Tennessee, in large part due to his upper-90s fastball and plus slider to pair with it. Baseball America has Burns as one of the top prospects in the 2024 MLB Draft, with the main concerns being around his control and whether or not he can have enough command to remain a starting pitcher.

That's part of why the 2024 season will be so important for Burns. It's his opportunity to work with some of the best coaching in the industry and prove he belongs as a top-10 selection in the draft, but if you take a look at his stuff in this video from Pitching Ninja, you'll understand that he could even be drafted before the Cardinals' selection if he pitches well this year.

I've been eyeing Chase Burns for the Cardinals since last summer and had him as one of the arms they should target in the draft. What I find really interesting though is that he's not even the top pitching prospect in the class as things currently stand, because his teammate LHP Josh Hartle has been the consensus number-one arm in the 2024 class by most outlets.

I've had this piece sitting in my queue for a while now, but I found it interesting that on Friday, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (subscription required) highlighted how there are four different Wake Forest players that the Cardinals will be keeping their eye on with their first-round pick, with Burns and Hartle being among that group. I highly recommend reading his piece as he had some very helpful tidbits about where the Cardinals may lean.

Both Hartle and Burns should go early in the draft, but the reason why I give Burns the edge today (and things can change over the next five months), is that Burns has that elite stuff that the Cardinals never have in their rotation. Tink Hence and Tekoah Roby both have great stuff and project to be middle-of-the-rotation starters, but Burns is a guy who could be one of the filthiest arms in baseball.