Whether the season happens or not, you can tell that it at least is appearing to happen. Just like at the beginning of any year, the news has started flying a little faster now that we are two weeks from Opening Day.
Wednesday, the Cardinals finally announced the rest of their 60-man player pool, the ones that would be starting in Springfield and, most likely, staying in Springfield. The front office would really like this to be more of a development thing. The folks in St. Louis that don’t make the roster are going to be in the next tier down, the ones that get the call if there’s an injury, someone is ineffective, or the virus strikes. This tier of players will only see St. Louis if three or four dominoes fall and it probably isn’t a good thing if they get there.
I’d say the headliners are the top picks from last month’s draft, but that’d be underselling the pool of talent here. Seriously, if they are going to do some intrasquad games there in Springfield, I imagine a lot of people would be interested in seeing them on TV. Still, Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn are going to be in the group and it’s the first chance we’ll have to see them in Cardinal red. How will they fare against not only other prospects like Matthew Liberatore, but also pitchers who aren’t going to make the 30-man, perhaps Austin Gomber or Genesis Cabrera? They aren’t going to get the easy assignments like most newly drafted people do, playing against people their own age. They get tossed in the deep end. I doubt the results are going to matter much when it comes to evaluation, but the process surely will.
Liberatore and Nolan Gorman, though, may draw a bit more attention. In theory, there’s a path for Gorman to the bigs this year, but it seems awfully obstructed. Getting to see his power on a regular basis, though, should be a lot of fun. We’re also going to get to see last year’s interesting draft gamble, Trejyn Fletcher. Watching him adapt to stronger competition will be a fascinating thing to keep an eye on.
There are other names in there as well. I don’t know Nabil Crismatt and I can’t remember Kyle talking about him, but all the rest of the folks are pretty familiar, especially to people that pay attention to what Kyle’s doing. We’ll get to see Evan Mendoza and Malcolm Nunez, which finishes up the infield, pitchers Roel Ramirez, Angel Rondon, and Alvero Seijas, and catcher Julio Rodriguez. The only outfielder in the group is Fletcher (which would make intrasquad games hard) but I’m sure there will be a couple of them dropped down from the big squad eventually.
All in all, this is an intriguing group of players. We’ve said for a while that the Cards have a deep and interesting minor league system so now we get to see that put into play. Hopefully there will be a way for us to actually see them this summer!