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2023 D50: Prospect #20

Updated: Feb 14, 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 Alec Willis

Age 20 Season (March Birthday)

Drafted in the 7th Round of the 2021 Draft

Listed at 6'5, 220


There are going to be comparisons between Alec Willis and Markevian Hence simply because they were both high schoolers that were handled very carefully during their first full season in the minors. The age and draft intrigue coupled with the kid gloves that the organization put on both of them during their first full season in the organization makes it too easy not to make that comparison.

But let's not do that, please!! As little as we knew about Hence one year ago, we know less about Willis and the progressions that he's made. Plus, they are two different pitchers with different plans of attack and stuff. So, let's take it slow with the Willis hype if we can, please.

I do love me some Alec Willis, though. There's been some arm injuries here and there for Willis so far in his life, but he's worked through all of that and he is most certainly poised for a big 2023 season. Willis's body is more of the work horse type, and there is a real and clear projection for his body that puts him on track to match that frame as he progresses through the minors.

The reports that I received from the backfields paint an incredibly positive picture of Willis's future to come. There are positive reports of a commanded fastball with plenty of movement that registers into the mid-90's, although he threw it about 90 MPH on average during his limited competitive exposure on the complex. I was told positive things about his somewhat odd curveball with low spin but weird movement profile that kept hitters off-balance with his repeatable delivery. There has been a lot of talk of a developing changeup that might the pitch in his arsenal that we are talking the most about a year from now.

If all of this happens for the soon-to-be 20-year-old then the Cardinals will have gem of a 7th round steal in the bonus baby that is Alec Willis.

He isn't there yet, and he has a lot of work to do to get there.

And I'm leGit not going to say anything more because we don't want to get too nuts just yet. There is a reason why this young man received the signing bonus that he did to sign with the Cardinals as a 7th round selection. I was very specific about putting him 20th on the list - and between the pitchers that I put him between and near - to give certain context about his potential and abilities.

Willis might be the pitcher that I'm most anxious and hopeful to watch during the 2023 season, and I'm hopeful that we'll get to see him before we get the chance to reevaluate the list at midseason. While I would still like to avoid the easy development comparison to Hence, I am very anxious to see if he's used similarly to how Hence was used during the 2022 season. Candidly, this is something that I would like to see the Cardinals employ with all of the prep pitchers that they draft, but only time will tell if that is how they'll operate.

I can't wait to find out just how special Willis is capable of being. Let's give him all of the time that he needs to get there.

Thanks For Reading!! Kyle Reis


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