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2023 D50: Prospect #16

Updated: Feb 21, 2023


Each post will feature these words, so feel free to skip accordingly. I offer the same always-standing apologies for the lackluster quality of my writing, as well as the stream of consciousness nature that I write with. I sincerely wish that I was better at writing than I am but, alas, here we are. Also, I'm very good at this as compared to most, but I am still VERY bad at it. Just think about that for a second, for context purposes.

I want to start off by reminding everyone that these posts are aided and enhanced by the works of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, Baseball America, and Prospects Live. Each embedded link will take you to their subscription pages and you should absolutely do that. Shout out to Geoff Pontes and Matt Thompson from Baseball America and Prospects Live, respectfully, because they're awesome. FanGraphs stats are OBVIOUSLY clutch and awesome, and that's why they are used in nearly every "Dirty" post. LOVE that FanGraphs.

Accordingly, @Cardinalsgifs provides his artistic touch to the pictures in each article, and I wouldn't do this at all if he wasn't a part of it. Special shoutout to @KareemSSN who is a must follow for Cardinals prospects stuff. His partner in crime is @Cardinalsreek and they have their own prospect list coming out soon!! Shoutout to Blake Newberry (@BT_Newberry) and Mr. Brian Walton (@B_Walton) for their work on their list over at The Cardinal Nation, too.

I also want to remind everyone that my list is different in that I don't include players with rookie eligibility that have made a Major League debut. So, you'll have to look elsewhere for Matthew Liberatore, Ivan Herrera, Alec Burleson, Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez, Brendan Donovan, Jake Walsh, Andre Pallante, and ZacK Thompson. Some of these guys have exhausted their prospect status, anyway. I'm just trying to get ahead of this because I will 100% be asked about each. I did almost add 32-year-old Rule 5 draft selection Wilking Rodriguez to the list, but decided against it because he's 32-years-old, entering his age 33 season, and the coverage of him will surely be overly saturated by the time that Spring Training gets going. Also, I didn't add recently acquired Jose Fermín because I just don't care at all. I'm sure he'll make a Major League debut at some point in 2023 which will be cool but I just can't find it in me to care about it at all.

The last thing that I'd like to do is remind everyone that this is just a snap shot of THIS moment. I'm not 100% sure what every player on the list has worked on or has been doing this offseason. So, when I'm a little more conservative with a player like, say, Michael McGreevy, it's without the knowledge of what he's worked on this offseason, along with the gains that he's made in the areas that I'm concerned about. You never know when/if things are going to click for a player, and there's more reason now than ever before - with the advancements in modern baseball technologies - for a prospect to catapult themselves from out of nowhere. Vice versa, it's easier than ever for a prospect to fall off into obscurity.

Finally, I'd like to provide links to other sites that rank Cardinals' prospects. The Cardinal Nation, Prospects Live, and Baseball America all have their 2023 lists published, and MLB and FanGraphs will link to their most recent rankings from 2022:

THE CARDINAL NATION (Subscribe to the damn site, dummies) MLB


RHP Michael McGreevy

Age 22, Turns 23 in July

Drafted in 1st Round of the 2021

Listed at 6'4, 215


I swear that this isn't the inditement of the player or the attention grab that it might otherwise seem to be. I'm undoubtedly a piece of shit, but that isn't my style.

Rather, the reason that I'm ranking the Cardinals former first round pick in the middle part of the teens on The Dirty50 is because I am trying to be as honest and as straight forward with the audience as I can be. That, and because the group of prospects between 12 and 21 could probably be in any order based on the "dealer's choice", really.

For some context of "when" I start to write the skeleton of these articles, I was mid-way through his skeleton when McGreevy walked into the Winter Warm Up press room to address the media. That was certainly a moment. I'm halfway through what will probably be the least glowing (YET STILL GLOWING!!) ranking that he'll have on any published list, and this motherfucker walks in and tells us about all of the progress that he's made this offseason (you can watch that press conference under the stats in this post).

The truth is that I love Michael McGreevy and he is 100% going to make a Major League debut if he can stay healthy (which he mentioned during Winter Warm Up that maintaining his arm's health was a huge part of his offseason). His off-speed stuff is just too good for him not to make it to the Majors, and the Cardinals always give their high draft picks more of a runway. In giving my honest evaluation, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think that the glitz and glamour that comes with being a first round selection inflates how he's viewed.

As I start this write-up talking about how he's a little overhyped because he was a first round pick, I want to also make a point to be as pointed in pointing out that I have less of a worry that McGreevy will eventually get as close to his ceiling as other prospects on this list. McGreevy possesses the work ethic, smarts, and drive to go along with advance feel that will push his entire arsenal to the top of their abilities. McGreevy is also the type of pitcher that is still tough to go up against when he isn't really "feeling" it, and that's something that goes a long way with me. Of course, he's going to need to "feel" it more often than not as he continues to move up the organizational ladder.

Rather, what I'm saying is that I think that McGreevy as currently constructed is more along the lines of Jake Woodford than he is a potential top of the line starter that is worthy of a top ten spot on The Dirty50. Which, AGAIN, is an INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE player for the organization. That type of starter/pitcher that can throw strikes has a years-long ML career ahead of them, while probably being utilized in various roles. To that point, we've all seen how much more effective Jake Woodford is now that he's re-engineered his slider. A vast majority of organizations would be lucky to have someone like McGreevy in their organization and this close to the Majors.

What it boils down to for me with McGreevy is than none of his tools are particularly impressive aside from his arm speed and athleticism. McGreevy's athleticism on the mound is really where my biggest headscratcher is, because the kid is chock-full of athleticism and it really feels like he hasn't come close to tapping into all of it the way that I would like to see. I don't really know how to elaborate on that for it to make sense, other than to say that he's still pretty stiff and lacking fluidity often in his quick-twitch pitching motions. McGreevy does have a great pickoff move, and he is plus at fielding his position, and that's part of his athletic nature that you do see regularly. The flip side of that is his clunky motion seems to create a decent amount of deception. So, there's that to prove that I have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about.

Maybe the biggest pleasant surprise of the 2022 with McGreevy was that he had some great success throwing his changeup. I actually really like this pitch to both lefties and righties, even though he seems to throw it primarily against lefties. It's a pitch that he throws in the mid-80's and that he usually commands very well, which is what you look for in the "feel" pitch.

McGreevy throws both a slider and a curve, and I legitimately really like both of these pitches! At AA, both pitches lacked a tremendous amount of consistency, and both pitches would flash plus every now and then while living in the "average" range. The data tells us that the slider is the more effective of the two breaking pitches, even if it doesn't get the whiffs of the curveball. It's a shame, too, because his curveball really is an aesthetically pleasing pitch to watch. I think there's a path to Major League success here for McGreevy with just his changeup and breaking pitches (starting to sound familiar, isn't it?...).

Where we start to get a little weird with McGreevy is his fastball/sinker combo. The data on both pitches is weird, and McGreevy made a point at Winter Warm Up to call himself a groundball pitcher. Either way, even with his advanced feel for throwing strikes, both pitches are basically trash for the upper levels of the minors and majors. I hate to be that candid about it, but both pitches just probably aren't good enough. His sinker is heavy and it's going to get a ton of grounders, but that also makes it the Dakota Hudson-esque "hold on and hope" profile pitch. Obviously, the more velocity the better. If McGreevy can find more consistent velocity then that will potentially change the effectiveness of the fastball and sinker. Luckily, McGreevy works at a breakneck pace so we won't have to worry about all of the bullshit between pitches. We've spent a lot of time since the Cardinals drafted McGreevy talking about how good his command is because he throws strikes, but we haven't spent enough time talking about how not all strikes are created equal. This statement goes double for the upper levels of the minors because if McGreevy isn't mixing it up and hitting the "black" of the zone then his fastball and his sinker are going to get torched, specifically.

The bottom line for me AT THIS VERY MOMENT with McGreevy is that there is just a lot of really weird things going on with him at a young age. The sinker/change combo is important for him against lefties but the sinker isn't enough for big success currently without added velocity. That's part of the reason why lefties hit 274/327/477 against him during the 2022 season. Both pitches are meant to be put on the ground with his command, but neither were enough as currently constructed with his usage frequency to be the pitches that he needs them to be. I FIRMLY believe that he can get both pitches near where he needs them to be, but he's going to have to work for it (which he is).

All of this helps us understand why he had extra trouble against lefties during the 2022 season. There are other pitchers in the organization that have a ton of success against lefties because of a change/sinker combo thanks to glove-side tumble. McGreevy doesn't have this level of success against lefties, and both of his slider and curve tend to find too much of the corners to keep lefties off of him. In the gif above you'll see McGreevy get the strikeout with the front door sinker. More often than not, McGreevy is throwing this pitch on the outer-half to lefties and I can't help but wonder how much more effective the pitch would be if he was just a little more front door heavy against lefties. During Winter Warm Up, McGreevy mentioned that he's been working on throwing a cutter that could bust in on lefties. That would 100% lead to more success, but it still feels like a long way to go to get to that point.

McGreevy's curve and slider could be good, nay, DYNAMIC pitches if he could get more out of his fastball. If he develops it like he hopes to develop it, the cutter could be a helluva compliment to his entire arsenal but he has work to do with a fastball for it to be maximized. As the presser video will tell you, he believes that a cutter will help keep lefties off of the rest of his shit. If it can, and it does, then we'll move him up the list and quickly. Pay close attention to the gif below and the words that I tweeted out, because I think they're worth focusing on.

Like with Gordon Graceffo, the stats tell us that McGreevy was just too good at High-A to be kept there. I think that this is one of those cases where the stats did a little bit of lying because I believe that he should have been kept down there for at least a few more months to see how the results adjust throughout the season. These are the areas of modern player development that I've come to hate, and I think there's a disservice being done to a lot of players as they are put on an advanced trajectory. While many of the outcomes of his starts were incredibly desirable at High-A, there were few moments where he looked unhittable or overpowering. Then again, that's not McGreevy's game, either. Which, is part of the reason why he is where he is on The Dirty50.

If you haven't picked up on it just yet, there is A LOT to compare between Matthew Liberatore and Michael McGreevy. Both have relatively unusable heaters and sinkers that play well-enough here and there, but are kind of weird for their arsenal and lose effectiveness with more usage. Both were unfairly rushed (although Liberatore was more unfairly rushed). Both are somewhat overhyped First Round picks that still have plenty of time to be more than what they are, but are what they are as they currently... are. What both "are", as currently constructed, are pitchers that should stick to their off-speed stuff as much as possible and work on new heaters, at least. Truth be told, I don't have a problem with either's sinker, but they have to be as smart as they possibly can be with how they use it (and if you think that command is the issue with Liberatore's fastball/sinker then you don't need to look any further than McGreevy to see how wrong you are).

And that's where we are at with McGreevy. He's an incredibly athletic and talented pitcher full of smarts and charm. Respected by his teammates and a sponge to new info, the success that he'll have moving forward will have to be built on tinkering and toying with a sinker and fastball/cutter that need extra work to get him to his highest level of success. I don't know if that means a tough year of learning at AAA or a chance to tinker and toy back at Springfield first, but I'm anxious to find out. He has every chance to be more than Jake Woodford, it's just that's the path that he's on right now. You just have to hope that the rushed nature of modern development doesn't hurt his long-term success chances.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The notes out of spring training have been promising in regards to McGreevy's development of his sinker. It's had 95+ MPH velocity and he's used it to set up his slider early on in camp. It's way too early to jump to conclusions, and maintaining velocity into starts is more important that hitting 96 MPH in a bullpen, but it's an incredibly promising sign nonetheless. More of this, please.

Thanks For Reading!! Kyle Reis


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