It's official, Jordan Walker is no longer a Major League Baseball prospect. Now he's just a rookie who's mashing for the St. Louis Cardinals and looks like a future superstar. You love to see it.
None of us are over the excitement of what Walker can become as a big leaguer, but let's be honest, it's hard not to get excited about "the next guy" as soon as a top prospect is no longer on those lists.
When it comes to the Cardinals' there are two players who have strong arguments to be their top prospect now, and depending on who you ask, you'll get a different answer. Those two youngsters are also from Walker's 2020 draft class - Masyn Winn and Tink Hence.
Who should be the Cardinals' top prospect, Masyn Winn or Tink Hence?
If you ask most people this question, their answer would probably be Masyn Winn. He was so impressive this Spring Training, looking like he was ready to be a big league shortstop already, and has continued to impress down in Triple-A Memphis. Although he began the season a little slow, he is slashing .260/.334/.375 with 7 HR, 25 RBI, and 13 SB this season. Shortstop is such a valuable position, and Winn is proving to be both exciting and dynamic at the plate, on the base paths, and especially in the field.
Hence may be in High-A Peoria right now, but he's continuing to show his promise as a potential top-of-the-rotation starter for St. Louis, and his pitch count and innings are beginning to be expanded by the organization. He is 1-1 on the season with a 2.57 ERA with 35 SO in 35 innings pitched. In his 95.1 professional innings, he has totaled 130 SO. Yeah, he's filthy.
The safer answer may be Winn, but I would actually make Hence my top prospect, for very similar reasons as to why Baseball America has made him theirs for St. Louis. Look at this quote they had about Hence
"One of the most exciting pitchers in the minor leagues, Hence will look to take on a bigger workload in the coming seasons. If he can hold his stuff deep into starts, he could one day rank as the top pitching prospect in the game."- Baseball America
I love Winn and I honestly think he's 1B to Hence's 1A. We are basically splitting hairs here. But if I had to try and separate them, talent evaluators seem to think Hence has the ceiling of a superstar pitcher, while I don't think there are many who see a scenario where Winn is a higher-rated prospect than shortstops like Jackson Holiday, Elly De La Cruz, Marcelo Mayer, or Jordan Lawler. All four of those guys are top-10 prospects in all of baseball, while Winn doesn't even rank in the top-10 shortstop prospects, according to MLB.com.
Obviously, that does not mean he shouldn't be ranked higher (I would argue he should be ranked a lot higher), but a guy like Hence just needs to show a few more things to leap up leaderboards and be among the top pitching prospects, or the top pitching prospect, in all of baseball.