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!
As 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.
#40 RHP Ian Bedell
22 Years Old
Drafted in the 4th round of the 2020 draft
Editor's Note: For some reason, I didn't tweet a lot of the gifs that I had of Bedell during his one start that MiLB TV provided (Bedell's 2nd start wasn't viewable because of an issue with the feed). So, this should be the only D40 write-up that has gifs embedded along with the tweets. Sorry if it bogs down the load time.
In the picture above, Ian Bedell looks like the stunt double for a young Christopher Moltisanti on the Sopranos.
I'm trying my hardest to learn from some of the lessons of the past. Just a few years ago the cardinals drafted Steven Gingery with their fourth round pick. When the Cardinals drafted him, he had just recently underwent Tommy John surgery. They ended up having to pay over slot for him, but it was a smart selection because Gingery would not have been available for the Cardinals at that pick if not for the arm injury. It was a smart choice then and in retrospect, even though Gingery is already out of the organization following a second Tommy John Surgery. That's how talented he was before the selection, and how talented he had the chance to be had he been able to come back from surgery.
I'm trying my hardest to practice caution in assuming that a kid is going to come back ready to pitch right off of Tommy John.
The story is a little different with Ian Bedell, but also similar in a couple of ways. Like Gingery, Bedell was drafted in the fourth round in his draft year, and the Cardinals had to pay over slot to sign him. Bedell was young for his draft class because he enrolled early at The University Of Missouri. Bedell was coming off of a really great showing in the Cape Cod league before becoming a weekend starter for Mizzou before the COVID lockdown. If I am speaking honestly, Bedell was as exciting of a fourth round pick as the Cardinals could have made.
Speaking of youth being on his side, one of the things that gives you extra hope with Bedell in his recovery is that he is still only 22 years old, and he'll be 22 years old for the entirety of the 2022 season. Since he underwent Tommy John Surgery early in the 2021 campaign, he should conservatively be back on a minor league mound around the midpoint of the 2022 minor league season, if all goes properly in his rehab.
Because of his youth and his acceptance of modern technologies to hone his craft, Bedell was the exact type of pitching prospect that was just starting to scratch the surface of his potential. His fastball could find its way into the mid 90s, while living in the low 90s more often than not. His changeup was a reliable secondary offering that could keep both lefties and righties off-balance, and he had a great ability to use a curvy slider off of his fastball. Most believed that Bedell's change was his best secondary offering, but I love that slurvy, curvy, slider. Here are three of them.
I know from talking to some people that both Bedell and the Cardinals were pleased with the gains that he was making with a "true" slider that he had been working on for some time. It's a shame that we never really got a chance to see it in action before he was shut down with the arm injury.
All of this is just background that I wanted to give you before I told you that there is a world where Bedell is way higher on this list. As a matter of fact, it should show you just how stupid I am that I have him this low on the list. More than anything else, what I am trying to do here is temper expectations. I thought long and hard about where I should put him, and I thought that right on the fringes of the list made the most sense. If we are talking about going off of pure stuff and potential, then Bedell has a case to be in the top 20. I do worry about the effectiveness of his fastball if he uses it heavily on the outside corner to both lefties and righties, and I think that he needs to be on both sides of the plate to be at this best, but it's really the surgery that keeps him further down the list.
Watching his one, short start available to me at Peoria, as well as the starts that I was able to track down at Mizzou, it's clear that Bedell has above average command of his entire arsenal. Sometimes he'll get himself into trouble if he starts the big breaking ball too high, leaving too much of it in the middle of the plate. Sometimes he overcooks his his fastball when going outside on righties, too. He doesn't do either of these things all of that often when he's healthy, so more positives there.
Bedell is a talented pitcher. He is a gritty and a fierce competitor. He is at his best when he is working fast, and he does that nearly always. A good, repeatable delivery, an ability to tunnel four pitches, and a frame for pitching to go along with some really good athleticism really aid Bedell, as well. He is everything that you look for in a pitcher.
However, the road to recovery from Tommy John isn’t always as easy as the prevailing narrative suggests. It’s not just coming back from Tommy John Surgery that stand in his way of stardom. Bedell still has youth on his side, but now we are talking about a young man that has missed nearly two years worth of competitive baseball following COVID and then T.J Surgery. Missing the vast majority of one season is difficult enough. That nearly every player was on the same page in missing basically all of the 2020 season helps to level that playing field. However, missing the vast majority of two consecutive seasons is not an easy task for anyone, even for someone as gifted as Bedell.
To end this, I would suggest that no one bets against Ian. His baseball smarts are only matched by his desire to work as hard as he can, using all of the tools at his disposal to reach his goals. That's not the type of kid that you bet against, that's the type kid that you bet on. It will not take much time for him to move up the list once he gets back on a minor league mound, I'd wager.
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.
In addition, you all know how important and valuable @cardinalsgifs is to the pictures that fire up these articles. He’s helped with some of the gifs along the lines, too. I wouldn’t do the write-ups if it weren’t for him.
Thank For Reading!!