2022 St. Louis Cardinals Top 5 Prospectsby John Lepore January 17, 2022 0 comments
The St. Louis Cardinals always put a good team on the field. Since 2000, they have only had one losing season and haven’t reached the 90-loss plateau since 1990. Part of that success is due to their player development and the ability to bring up homegrown talent as well as complement them with established players. This past year was no different as they got important contributions from Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill, both playing in their first full seasons.
In 2022, the Cardinals could see a couple more prospects make their mark in the majors. St. Louis also has a few teenagers who have some talent and will be working on their craft in the hopes of making it to the show in a few years. Let’s take a look at what the farm system looks like for the Cardinals.
Make sure to check out all of our other Top Prospect Articles.
1. Nolan Gorman, Second Base/Third Base
Gorman was a first-round pick out of High School in 2018. He has made multiple stops along the way and finally reached Triple-A Memphis for 76 games last year. His bat still played well despite being only 21 years old. With the Redbirds, Gorman hit 14 home runs and slashed .274/.320/.465 while keeping his strikeout rate below 20 percent. Defensively, he has made a successful transition to second base. Looking increasingly more comfortable at the keystone, Gorman is sure-handed and committed only three errors in 61 games there at Triple-A. While he is far from a speed demon, The Arizona native swiped seven bags last year and is a smart baserunner.
Gorman is ready to make his major league debut. The problem is where? Nolan Arenado is set at third base and Tommy Edman just won a Gold Glove at second. If there is a designated hitter in the NL this year, it could allow the Cardinals to have Gorman there to get him regular at-bats. Much of this also depends on if Paul DeJong or Edmundo Sosa can actually take hold of the starting shortstop job. Whichever way this goes, expect Gorman to make his debut this season.
2. Matthew Liberatore, Pitcher
Liberatore spent the 2021 season with Memphis and turned in a solid campaign going 9-9 with a 4.04 ERA. He struck out nearly a batter per inning and his walk rate was only 6.3 percent. However, the southpaw was fairly hittable allowing nearly a base-hit per inning. Unfortunately, 19 of them left the yard as well. Liberatore has worked a slider into his repertoire that includes a low-90s fastball along with a very good 12-to-6 curveball that he drops in the mid-70s. His changeup is also a solid weapon as he plays it off of his heater well.
Some feel and location may still be in the cards (no pun intended) for the lefty, but he should get a spring training invite and possibly battle for a spot on the Opening Day roster. Even if the Cardinals sign a veteran or two to fill in their rotation to start the season, one thing is clear…Liberatore will be pitching for St. Louis by the end of the year.
3. Ivan Herrera, Catcher
Herrera played all but one game at Double-A Springfield in 2021. He put up respectable numbers with a .753 OPS and 17 home runs. Defensively, he has earned praise from coaches about his dedication to improving behind the plate. The 21-year-old should not have a problem hitting bombs, standing at a stout 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, he is built like a prototypical catcher. His pitch recognition is very good and he jumps on mistakes. With the gear on, he has improved. Herrera has a solid arm and a good feel for the game. He moves around well behind the dish and with a little more refinement, can turn into an above-average catcher.
Herrera should be up to the majors soon as the Cardinals grow weary of Andrew Knizner and his .191 batting average. If Herrera is going to be the heir apparent to Yadier Molina, who better to have him learn from on the job? If St. Louis decides to give Knizner another shot or bring in a veteran backup for a year, then the Panama native will have to wait another season and polish his skills in the minors.
4. Michael McGreevy, Pitcher
McGreevy pitched just 7.2 innings in the Cardinals system last year as his innings were watched after throwing over 100 for UC Santa Barbara. St. Louis believed enough in the big righty to select him 18th overall last year. McGreevy comes in as a polished pitcher with excellent command. He knows how to pound the strike zone and uses a solid four-pitch mix to get hitters out. His knowledge of how to pitch helps his stuff play up. With a fastball that sits around 93, he tunnels his slider well with it, taking just a little off. His changeup and curveball are not exactly out-pitches yet, but he uses them effectively and can spot them where he wants.
The Cardinals may want to see more of McGreevy in their system before bringing him to the big club. He will likely start the season in Advanced-A Peoria. Depending on how he moves up and handles higher-level hitters as the year goes on, McGreevy could see a debut with the Cardinals by 2023.
5. Jordan Walker, Third Base
Defense isn’t exactly Walker’s forte, committing 22 errors in just 76 games at third base this year. St. Louis’s first-round pick in 2020 can certainly do everything else. In 82 games, the 19-year-old had a .935 OPS with 14 homers and 14 stolen bases. He also chipped in 25 doubles and kept his strikeout rate at a respectable 23.8 percent. The tools are there and this was Walker’s first taste of pro ball. The early signs are encouraging though.
Where the Cardinals put him on the diamond will be a question they will need to answer in a few years. Walker hasn’t even made it to Double-A yet and still has some work to do. However, the kid has the size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and the athleticism now to be able to possibly improve enough to be adequate at third or first. Either way, Walker will let his bat take him as far as he can go.
What Does the Future Hold?
Joshua Baez is another teenager to keep an eye out for. The kid from Brookline, MA is an imposing figure at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds already at age 18. He may offer the most upside out of anyone in this group. Time will tell as he has only had 23 games in rookie ball. Masyn Winn is another intriguing player as he came to the Cardinals as a two-way star. Winn has played almost exclusively at shortstop (one inning pitched) and has had some positive early returns. His speed is undeniable, but if his bat doesn’t progress, the Cardinals could move him to the mound.
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