Updated: Feb 14
THIS IS THE PROSPECT PREAMBLE.
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 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:
KAREEM AND CARDINALS REEKS TOP 12
THIS HAS GONE ON TOO LONG. LET'S. GO.
OF Won-Bin Cho
Age 19, 20 in August.
International Free Agent in 2022
Listed at 6'3, 200. Bats L/Throws L
God, how exhausting this must be for everyone. I feel like I'm on a soapbox more than ever.
Won-Bin Cho is an awesome and very raw prospect with a very small sample to get excited about, but with a personality, build, athleticism, feel, love, and dedication to the sport worth getting extremely excited about.
I made a point to put Cho 25th overall on the list because he's a prospect that is kinda caught in the middle of old school and new school, and of scouting and production. Cho was productive in that limited sample during the 2022 season, but I think that we can all agree that the stats are weird and the sample is limited and that doesn't really tell us anything. The wRC+ of 118 that he put up with five extra base hits while getting on base 40% of the time but also striking out 27% of the time is promising, but it's also a mixed bag within too small of a sample.
Because of that, I wanted to put him right in the middle of The Dirty50 to drive home the point that his development could go either way, and easily. That's how raw and inexperienced, yet totally and uniquely gifted Won-Bin Cho is.
Now, other than the gifs and videos on Twitter, I have not seen Cho in person. I know from talking to people within baseball and in the scouting world that everyone is still very excited for what Won-Bin Cho is and what he might become. A year ago, when the list was The Dirty 40, I made a point to put another scouting darling caught in the middle of old and new school, production and measurables/scouting at the 20th spot on the list for the same reason. One year and a list expanded by ten spots later, and that prospect - RHP Edwin Nunez - isn't on my list at all. He'll be one of the first names that we talk about in the appendix of the list because he still spins the ball like a madman, but his command and body control is so terrible that he doesn't exactly deserve a spot on the list even though he throws lively gas and breaking pitches that spin 3000+ RPMs.
Because, in the end, baseball is, has, and always will be all about putting it all together and producing.
With Cho, the positives in his at-bats and play in the outfield are numerous. We've heard a lot of talk of potentially "plus" speed. Of "plus" instincts. Of "plus" outfield arm and range. I did have someone that I HIGHLY trust tell me that those are a little over-zealous, specifically his feel for the outfield, but that's a decision that I'll make on my own when I get to see him eventually. I'd recommend that you do that, as well. There is an easy to his swing and his ability to find the barrel - even if it's not hard contact - is always evident. You can also tell from that beautiful cut that Cho is trying to drive gaps and find holes, and that's because he possesses tremendous bat-and-body control for a kid his age. Cho has power to get to, but there is a real doubles machine inherently built into his swing, approach, and skillset.
So, in Cho we have a teenage prospect that swings the bat left-handed with all of the potential in the world to be a difference maker at the Major League level if all goes properly. What we also have is a raw baseball player and athlete that does a lot of things really well but is going to need more than his inherent abilities and athleticism to take him to the next level. The two characteristics of Won-Bin that everyone agrees on are that he has charism in droves and that he is an incredibly hard worker that wants nothing more than to be a Major Leaguer. You'll be able to see some of the hard work that he's put into his mechanics by reviewing the videos within this post while paying close attention to their time stamps. Cho has already shortened his stride and leg-kick from one year ago. The adjustment is small, but it's something.
Aside from that, I'm not going to waste anymore time on a prospect that I haven't seen play with my own eyes. Please understand that I am very cautious about Cho, but I also think he's capable of being something special. Gun to my head, I'd say that he is a top 10 prospect in the organization a year from now. I was substantially less inclined to feel that way about Edwin Nunez one year ago...
Take that for what it's worth, if it's worth anything.
Thanks For Reading!! Kyle Reis