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 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:
KAREEM AND CARDINALS REEKS TOP 12
THIS HAS GONE ON TOO LONG. LET'S. GO.
SS Masyn Winn
Age 20, Turns 21 in March
Drafted in the 2nd Round of the 2020 Draft
Listed at 5-11' 180. Bats R/Throws R
BEFORE WE GET INTO THE WRITE-UP, I WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT PROSPECTS 5-2 COULD REALLY BE IN ANY ORDER. THERE'S AN ARGUMENT TO BE MADE THAT ALL FOUR OF THESE PLAYERS COULD AND SHOULD BE PROSPECT 2a, 2b, 2c, AND 2d. ALL FOUR ARE TOP 100 PROSPECTS IN BASEBALL REGARDLESS OF IF THEY ARE ACTUALLY RANKED ON NATIONAL TOP 100 LISTS.
Editor's Note: Please take a second to watch the video above of Masyn Winn's presser at Winter Warm Up. It's informative and delightful, even though it's also a SUPER weird that it was aco-presser with Packington Naughton of House Naughtington.
I have so very much been looking forward to this write-up. I've known where I was going to start for months now...
There are lot of just... INCREDIBLY FUCKING STUPID AND UNIFORMED NATIONAL "EVALUATORS" ON THE MARKET THESE DAYS. THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO MADE UP THEIR STUPID AND UNEDUCATED MINDS ON WINN WHEN HE WAS A PREP PLAYER AND THEY'VE HALF-ASSED PERFORMED A WORD OF MOUTH SMEAR CAMPAIGN ABOUT HIM THAT IS BOTH HIGHLY-INACCURATE AND LAZY AS FUCK. TAKE NOTE OF THESE EVALUATORS BECAUSE THEY'RE TRASH. THEY SHOULD NOT BE LISTENED TO AND THEY CERTAINLY SHOULD NOT BE EMPLOYED.
Masyn Winn is one of the hardest workers day in and day out that the organization has. I've never seen him take one play off, and I've only ever seen him take extra bases. As I mentioned in the bold above, there is this weird thing going on where very stupid people are saying very stupid things that are contrary to this and it couldn't be any more inaccurate. I'm a rather docile person, but I've been taking notes on the people that have been saying this and I am proud to say that there will be an altercation if I ever come across any of these hacks. It always seems to be whites/old whites, too. Funny how that works out...
During his two full seasons in the organization, we've seen Masyn Winn score on a deep fly ball to centerfield on a tag-up from 2nd. We've watch him tag from first and make it safely into a second a couple of times on deep flyballs to the corner outfielders. We've seen him make countless hustle plays in the field, oftentimes hustling to get himself into a position where he can let his arm eat on a cutoff. We've watched him go first to third and second to home and first to home more often than most. We've watched him steal 75 bases in 85 attempts over three levels. There isn't a lazy bone in this kid's body.
We've also watched Masyn Winn work his ass of in his transition from two-way player to full-time short stop. It wasn't always pretty at first, and there is still work to do, but Winn has put in an incredible amount of work with the coaches to get to the point where the easy play is easy for him and the hardest plays are within glove-range. He's not as elite or as flashy as he'll eventually be with more reps, but the trajectory is absolutely there. I have no doubt about it. Sometimes his feet will get jumbled up underneath him, but these plays are becoming less and less frequent.
All of these words already, and none of them begin to tell the story of the work that Winn has put in to be the threat that he has become in the batter's box. Winn's bat speed has always been good, but it's what he's done to keep his bat in the zone longer while getting more direct to the ball that stands out. You can see the kinetic energy working through Winn's swing now more than ever, and you can tell that his lower-half is more involved than ever, as well. It's not a fluke that Winn hit 36 doubles in 550 plate appearances between Springfield and Peoria during the 2022 season. His swing seems almost ideally designed for gap-to-gap and extra-base hit damage these days.
There's this other incredibly lazy evaluation of Winn's power and power potential that appears to be going on, too. Some national evaluators are crediting Masyn's power surge to the hitter-friendly environment in the Texas League. Yes, the league has smaller parks and it's a hitter's environment, but this is overly dismissive. Sure, some of his homers just got over, but Winn crushed some of those homers, as well. I'm not sure he's going to hit eleven homers every 400 plate appearances like he did at Springfield, but I A) don't think he has to because of all of the other stuff that he does and B) still see about 5-10 homer capability over the same timeline because of the changes that he's made to his swing and the confidence that he now has in his approach. I know that there is someone that is reading this and they're seeing me say "no" to 11 homer potential but "Yes" to 5-10" homer potential and pointing out that there is only a difference of one between ten and eleven. Hey, good work to you!!! Now, try reading between the lines a little bit to understand what I'm saying.
When you look at Winn's 2022 season and you see that he made contact 78% of the time while chasing about 26% of the time with a hard hit rate of about 28% to pair with a 21% strikeout rate and an 11.5% walk rate you start to see how his at-bats develop. His at-bats are certainly designed to drive the ball somewhere and to stay inside of the strike zone while doing it, but to not go too far outside of himself to do the damage that he is going to do. For a 20-year-old shortstop prospect in his first "real" season removed from being a two-way player, this is the exact approach that you want to see. I think that a better evaluator would like to see his hard hit rate increase while finding the sweet spot more frequently, but I'm perfectly fine with how he does what he does at the plate. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that he doesn't need to make more consistently hard contact moving forward, but the line drive nature of the contact that he makes has me thinking that he probably just needs to be more consistent in finding the pitch that he can line somewhere.
Make no mistake, the confidence in his approach helped Winn to get to that power surge. That's part of the reason why we saw Winn's walk rate and over-the-wall power increase at AA. Winn put up seven triples for Peoria which buoys his slugging percentage, but I'd go so far as to say that his power/slug at AA got better in general, even if the slugging percentage doesn't bear that out. Maybe the better way to put it is that his power got more real and sustainable in AA, and it's not as "fake" as lesser evaluators are painting it out to be.
As we get into the meat of the evaluation of Masyn Winn, I guess we have to state that his arm is elite and unique and accurate and like nothing else you've ever seen. Everyone talks about it always and it drowns out the rest of his incredible skills so this is really all that I'm going to say about it. Blah blah blah 100 MPH throw blah blah blah Future's Stars Game blah blah blah you've heard all of this to the puke point already. What doesn't get talked about is how accurate he's become with his throw almost always. the exception is when he doesn't take the time to go through the mechanics on an easy throw to first. This doesn't happen frequently, so I'm not so worried about it. The reverse of this is that sometimes you'll see Winn hold on to a throw in the process of cutting off a ball. In the fan's mind, you think to yourself "uncork it, king!" He doesn't, and he's almost always correct for eating the ball instead of letting it fly. He's smarter than we are, at least.
The most underrated part of Winn is the type of teammate that he is. For years now, I've only ever heard his teammates talk about how much they love him. Over the years, I've heard more than a handful of his teammates say that they believe they are better just being around him. He brings an energy to the clubhouse and the diamond that few others in the minors do, and it doesn't matter what age or level the player is. Simply put, Masyn Winn is a great teammate. For two straight years now, we've seen the best of Jordan Walker when he is on the same field as Masyn Winn. Could be coincidence, could be more. Regardless, the energy and excitement that Winn brings to the field is as infectious as I've ever watched.
With all of this gushing, I also want to get real for a second. Masyn Winn is not ML ready as of right now. This is a lazy evaluation, because there are probably only 1% of 20-year-old's in affiliated baseball that are ML ready. Keep that in mind. For Winn, it's consistency that he is in search of as he enters the 2023 season. Consistency in the field. Consistency at the plate, specifically against righties because he already consistently crushes lefties. Consistency with his body and his endurance. It was a long 2022 season between the MiLB season and his time in the Arizona Fall League. Masyn definitely displayed signs of fatigued by the time that the AFL was through (as did Jordan Walker and Tink Hence and basically everyone there except for the experienced players like Connor Thomas and Mike Antico). Seasons only get longer from here, hopefully, so he'll need to continue to adjust to the grind of an extended season.
If Winn can find the average consistency level that we are looking for then he's probably less than a year from being ready to make his ML debut. If it takes a little longer then we'll probably see Winn debut in 2024 (which, honestly, is the trajectory that any other promising prospect his age is on). However, if Winn can find the next level in his game then he's going to be something special at the Major League level. Again, he isn't there yet but he isn't all that far away, either. If I know Masyn Winn, I have no doubt that he'll be putting himself in a position to be ML ready sooner rather than later.
If Masyn Winn can continue to build and grow like he did during the 2022 season then he's going to be a dynamic Major Leaguers. All of the attributes are there, from athleticism to drive to hustle to skill. It's always easier said than done to be an impact Major Leaguer, but with the right work and the right emphasis - which is just continued work and emphasis for Winn - that's exactly what he'll be. We just have to show more patience than we usually like to.
Thanks For Reading!! Kyle Reis