Untouchable is a strange word in baseball. Obviously, every prospect or player has a price. If another team meets that price, it's worth trading the player, right?
Last year, it was clear the Cardinals weren't interested in trading Jordan Walker unless someone had called up and offered the moon. He was just too good, and usually, that's the reason prospects become must-keeps (this is a better term than untouchable, in my opinion). But, the three players I'll be discussing today are must-keeps for a different reason. They're all excellent prospects with bright futures, but they provide too much to the Cardinal organization to be moved.
What exactly does that mean? It means that they're too valuable because of their specific skills or positions. This is why a guy like Ivan Herrera, as much as I believe in him, doesn't find his way onto this list. Herrera is an outstanding young catcher with a high defensive floor and an even higher offensive season. I believe he's going to be a productive big-league catcher, and hopefully, the Cardinals will give him opportunities to do that. However, if the Cardinals were to move on from Herrera, it wouldn't wound the organization long-term. They have Willson Contreras, a highly capable catcher on the big league roster right now, and the minors are littered with strong catching prospects, such as Leonardo Bernal, Jimmy Crooks III, and Pedro Pagés. It's likely that another major league caliber catcher would emerge within the next few years.
However, that's not the case at every spot on the field.
CF Victor Scott II
Victor Scott II is the least tradeable of any prospect in the Cardinals' system right now. He's risen through the minors quickly and his bat is more advanced than scouts had previously thought. He could reach St. Louis early in the 2024 season. But the Cardinals can't trade him because of the positional value he provides. Since the departure of Harrison Bader, the Cardinals have not rostered a true centerfielder with a solid bat. They're given defensive gurus like Oscar Mercado opportunities, and they've slid other productive players such as Lars Nootbaar and Tommy Edman into center to mask the problem. But each has had their own problems. Nootbaar's glove is much better utilized in right field, his native position. Edman doesn't have the arm strength to excel in centerfield. Scott's game has no such holes.
Victor Scott is a generational defensive prospect. He may be the fastest player in all of MiLB, as evidenced by his gaudy stolen base totals. But that speed plays in the field too. He's already an elite defender, and he's only going to get better. After a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League, it's likely that the Cardianls will be even more aggressive with his development. I personally can't wait to watch him patrol Busch's spacious outfield.
But all of this excitement aside, the reason they can't trade him is because of the lack of organizational depth. Travis Honeyman may be able to play center at a high level someday, but it remains to be seen whether he'll receive those opportunities. Elsewhere, Michael Siani plays a solid center, but at 24, his ceiling is considerably lower than Scott's. He's also had considerable offensive struggles, and was DFA'd by the Cincinnati Reds. That's why we ranked Scott as an untouchable trade asset on the Noot News Podcast.
Thus, trading Scott would hurt the organization in the long term. It would hurt the Cardinals in a way trading almost anybody else wouldn't. Scott is by no means the best player in the organization, but he has the least competition. The Cardinals may survive 2024 with Edman in center. However, Edman will likely be departing after the 2024 season. Other than Scott, the Cardinals have zero legitimate options to play the position.