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.
#19: RHP Gordon Graceffo
22 Years Old on Opening Day
Drafted in the 5th round of the 2021 draft
After every draft, there’s a pitcher that I end up falling in love with more than I should. In past seasons, some of those pitchers have been John Kilichowski, Evan Kruczynski, and Logan Gragg. Early success right after the draft really sets my loins ablaze. Often, I’m wrong in getting so excited so early on.
I firmly believe that Gordon Graceffo is different.
First, his name is “Gordon Graceffo.” I’m not 100% sure about it, but if there was going to be the lead character in a porn parody of “Wall Street”, the main character would go by something similar to that name (this was weak, and I shouldn’t have written it. I’m not gonna take it out, though, so suck it).
Second, once I settled on the list, it was important to me that I put Graceffo next to Edwin Nunez because it’s a fun juxtaposition in scouting. Graceffo isn’t the “loud tools” type pitcher with massive spin rates and a super projectable frame that Nunez is. No, he’s a command-first pitcher that has added velocity onto his fastball since the COVID shutdown. To do this, while refining his secondary offerings, bodes well for sustained success.
Another prospect in recent years that I’ve fallen in love with in their draft season is RHP Andre Pallante. You could tell right away that Pallante was too good to be pitching in the now affiliated-extinct New York/Penn League back in 2019. It made sense for Pallante to be there for every imaginable reason, but it was terrific to see that he was just too advanced both mentally and physically for that level. While we didn’t get the same sample out of Graceffo during the 2021 season – and the New York/Penn League doesn’t even exist in affiliated minor league baseball anymore – it was clear from his organizational debut that Graceffo was too advanced for the Low-A level.
In my mind, Graceffo seems more polished and advanced than Pallante did in 2019. I think that Graceffo's mechanics are much easier to repeat, as is the velocity that he's able to get to consistently. I also think that Graceffo has much more deception in his delivery. Look at the gifs of him pitching and you'll notice that beautiful arm angle and release point that - when paired with terrific arm speed - gets the ball on top of the hitter quickly. While Pallante lives mostly in the low-to-mid 90’s, Graceffo lives mostly in the mid-to-high 90’s. Those extra couple of ticks of velocity can make a world of difference. Just ask fellow 2021 draft pick Austin Love or Matthew Liberatore or Zack Thompson…
The other reason that I have Graceffo higher that Pallante – other than that Graceffo hasn’t had a chance to fail yet – is that Graceffo has better command of three pitches than Pallante appears to have. Pallante is fastball/curve/slider and Graceffo is Fastball/slider/change, but Graceffo commanded all three pitches better in 2021 than Pallante did. I want to make it clear that this is not a result related observation, exactly. This comes from watching the games and seeing the catcher move behind the plate. A lot was made about the command of Michael McGreevy, the Cardinals’ first round pick in the 2021 draft (we’ll get there soon enough), but I think that there’s an argument to be made that Graceffo’s ability to command on the black of the plate makes his in-game command more impressive *RIGHT NOW* than McGreevy. Especially with the amount of arm-side run that Graceffo's fastball can have. Again, more on McGreevy towards the end of the listing.
As you'll notice in all of the videos embedded within this article, both of Graceffo's off-speed offerings - his slider and his changeup - can be deadly, specifically because of his repeatable arm angle and delivery. Both of these pitches can bite HARD, and what's not to like about that?!?! I haven't seen enough to feel comfortable committing to this, but I think that both pitches are capable of getting both lefties and righties out at a consistent clip. Obviously, that's a pretty big deal. Sometimes Graceffo will incorporate a loopy-ass curve-ish ball here and there. Sure. Fine. Why Not. Just, ya know, get better with it please and maybe make it a little sharper. Or, ya know, only throw it like two times every start. Either way, really. In the meantime, keep burying that slider, young man.
I also wanted to bring Pallante up because it gives me a chance to talk about Graceffo’s 2022 starting point. There’s always the chance that the Cardinals start their 2021 4th round selection at Peoria for the 2022 season. I don’t think that’s likely, however, and I expect him to start at Springfield just like Pallante did in 2021 (although it should be mentioned that the lost 2020 season did change Pallante’s track by just a wee bit).
Personally, I am hopeful that the Cardinals will be aggressive with this young man because I think that he is up for the challenge. He's a feisty competitor with a relatively untaxed arm that thrives on competition. He's a smart and charming kid, too, from what I've heard. A heavy strike thrower with good run and growing velocity that's thrown by a smart baseball mind... what's not to like???
Then again, I could have just put the death curse on Graceffo like I did to Kilichowski, Kruczynski, and Gragg, but to a lesser degree (we’ll get to that soon enough). If I were to wager, I would wager that Graceffo won’t file so nicely into that category.
As I just take a screenshot straight from their website, I can’t begin to stress loudly enough the important role that FanGraphs plays in the statistical side of what I do with these write-ups. Please subscribe to their service BY CLICKING THIS LINK.
As we've talked a bunch already, I am so damn appreciative of THE PALM BEACH CARDINALS' TWITTER FEED for keeping us updated on the babiest of full-season birds. Shout out to VILLANOVA BASEBALL'S TWITTER FEED for the additional video.
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!!