What should the St. Louis Cardinals do with Masyn Winn in 2024?

Masyn Winn made his Major League debut at the end of the 2023 season for the Cardinals. Where should he start in 2024, and how much time should he spend at both Triple-A and St. Louis?
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages

Masyn Winn is a top-ranked prospect in all of baseball at a supreme position. He is known primarily for his 80-grade cannon of an arm and his speed on the basepaths. He was once a two-way prospect, but he barely pitched the year he was drafted by the Cardinals 54th overall in the 2020 draft.

Winn deserved a call-up to the Major League team at the end of the season given his prospect status and his performance at Triple-A Memphis up to that point. He had a slash line of .288/.359/.474 with 18 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 105 games with the Redbirds. Winn's power really took off after the 2022 season.

He made his MLB debut on August 18th, and he started the game at shortstop. His debut was one of the most anticipated in recent years for the Cardinals. Fans won't ever forget Pete Alonso mistakenly throwing his first hit into the stands of Busch Stadium. However, Winn's first 122 MLB at-bats weren't perfect; a .172/.230/.238 slash line will line up a batter for a 29 OPS+. This means Winn was 71% worse than the average major league batter. Yikes.

His defensive isn't in question; he is able to field his position well and his arm allows him to make throws that other shortstops wouldn't dare try. He is speedy and can throw a pitcher off when he's on the basepaths. What is in question, however, is Winn's ability to hit at the highest level of professional baseball.

122 at bats is a microscopic sample size. No analyst, coach, pundit, or front office will take that many at-bats as truth and what is indicative of future events. 122 at bats is enough to be worried about, though. His hottest months across his career have been in June and July, and he has struggled after a promotion. He was promoted from Low-A to High-A in late July of 2021, and he didn't have an OPS greater than .534 in August and September.

In 2022, he was promoted to Double-A Springfield at the end of May, and he had an OPS .250 points lower in his first month there than he did in High-A. He settled in over the next few months but still struggled to keep an OPS greater than .725 from July to September. Winn was sent to Triple-A Memphis to start in 2023, and it took him two full months to adjust to that level of pitching.

The point is, that it takes time for a hitter, especially one who is seven years younger than the average player at a particular level, to adjust. Given a full season at any level of baseball, Winn has shown himself to be a capable offensive player and a stellar defensive one.

Winn's spot at the start of 2024 is dependent upon what the front office does this offseason. If Tommy Edman and/or Dylan Carlson are traded, Winn will have to play shortstop for St. Louis. If both Edman and Carlson end up staying on the team, Winn will have to be a reserve. That will strunt his progression, so he should probably start at Triple-A to wait for an opening. I want to see his defense in the majors as much as the next person, but it makes no sense to keep him on the roster and not let him see professional hitting. Winn should only start the season in St. Louis if he has a guaranteed starting spot.