Updated: Dec 5, 2021
WELCOME TO THE DIRTY FLIRTY.
These are my top 40 prospects in The Cardinals organization, aside from the players that I’ve already covered in The Dirty Annexes. This little ditty here is the preface to all of the post in our Dirty series. So, if you’ve read this once then you don’t need to read it again!
A warning to those looking for Lars Nootbaar, Scott Hurst, Junior Fernandez, Johan Oviedo, Jake Woodford, Edmundo Sosa, and anyone aside from Angel Rondon that has already made a major league debut: That’s not really my bailiwick, as I’m sure you’ve heard enough about those guys from more qualified outlets already. Most of those guys have exhausted their prospect status, anyway.
A reminder that this is an exercise in futility, ranking prospects. It’s a landscape that is ever-changing and developing. We are almost always talking about kids that are just starting to understand both themselves and their bodies, while learning the most difficult and nuanced sport in the land. You never know when someone is going to start doing 200 pushups per day on their way to postseason glory.
I ask for your thoughts and feedback. I ask that you have fun. I ask that you remember that I’m a moron. Most importantly, I ask that you take all of the prospect rankings from every outlet in the spirit of what they are: a snapshot of that moment, with a bent towards understanding what might come.
#18: RHP Markevian Hence
19 Years Old
Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft
Florida Complex League
Yes, "Tink" is a perfectly fine nickname, but Markevian is a fucking baller name and I will call him that until he or a family member tells me to stop calling him that. I wish that my name was something cool like Markevian Hence. No, instead I'm fucking "Kyle." what a letdown.
A couple of fun things to note before we get too deep into this. First, Hence and Masyn Winn are very close friends. Both were slated to enroll at the Arkansas before the Cardinals drafted them. As we all know about Winn at this point, you have to be the highest level of "awesomeness" to be around that kid. That should give you some idea of how high-character he is. The second fun little tidbit is that Markevian's little brother Blaze is a bit of a baseball prodigy, himself. Honestly, that family is a lot of fun. Just a family of characters with character.
I am still not 100% sure how to handle the players that were at the Complex League during the 2021 season. For the most part, those kids were relatively hidden away from the prying eye of fans and scouts, alike. I received nothing but positive reports about Hence and the work that he's put in, but there is a very small sample in play here, and not enough looks for me to feel comfortable about being ultra-aggressive with such a young pitcher. In this instance, I'm going to take a cue from the Cardinals and be a little more conservative with him on my rankings. I think that we could all benefit from taking this approach.
Now, if we are talking about raw skill and athleticism, combined with a feel for pitching, then Hence probably deserves a top 15 spot on the list. The high school kid that started to pop before the COVID shutdown is certainly deserving of added attention. And I definitely understand why the Cardinals would practice extra caution with such a prized prospect with this type of potential. Selfishly, I just wish that he would have gotten a little bit of time at Palm Beach to end the season.
And what makes Hence such a prized prospect with limitless potential? Well, the athleticism, baseball IQ, and intangibles are the first couple of things that come to mind. He was one of the younger pitchers in his draft class, and to see him surge at the end of his 2020 season before the COVID shutdown yells of a prospect that probably wouldn't have been available to the Cardinals this late in the draft had the season been played in full. Part of the reason why I believe this is because it's well documented that Hence is capable of spinning both a slider and curveball with high RPM's. Unlike with Edwin Nunez who we talked about a few write-ups ago, Hence has always had a really solid feel for his high RPM stuff, so that gives him a distinct edge in his development and prospect standing.
Speaking of surging late in his high school season, Hence was starting to add some extra velocity to his fastball, which was already pretty lively. He'd live in the low 90's with it, but he was starting to tick-up more consistently into the mid-90's. There were some repeatability issues with his motion and arm angle, but nothing out of the ordinary for someone this young. In short, Everything about Hence was positive or trending positively.
You can also see the strength in Hence's frame, even if it was svelte the last time that we saw him. He's put on more positive weight since that 2020 season, but he is going to need to continue to add on to his frame, in my opinion. I think that this will help him maintain a little bit more consistency in his delivery.
It's interesting to think about what 2021 might have been for Hence had the 2020 season not been shutdown by COVID, and had the minor leagues not been contracted. It's easy to envision a situation in which Hence would have been in the GCL in 2020 then in the Appy League in 2021 had things at the minor league level not changed so much. Instead, he spent limited time pitching in the FCL (formerly the GCL) after not getting on the field competitively after being drafted. There are just so many developmental irregularities for these kids to work through right now. Here is to hoping that 2022 brings back some level of a new normal to the minors.
The truth is, Hence is going to blow up on the scene in 2022, and we are going to have a lot of fun watching him develop and perform. There might not be a pitcher in the organization with more upside than Hence. That gets me excited.
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In addition, you all know how important and valuable @cardinalsgifs is to the pictures that fire up these articles. I wouldn’t do the write-ups if it weren’t for him.
Thank For Reading!!