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 Chase Pinder
Age 27 Season
Drafted in the 7th Round of the 2017 Draft
Listed at 5'11, 185. Bats R/Throws R
To answer your question, NO, I DO NOT HAVE ANY FUCKING IDEA WHAT I'M DOING.
Here's the thing about Pinder: He's old and I hate it. It's so unlike me to add a player as old as Pinder to the list, and it's even more unlike me to put him so high on the list.
But here's the other thing about Pinder: this kid can fucking rake, regardless of his age or level.
here are few hitters in the upper levels of the minors for the Cardinals that possess the rare gifts of slug and patience the way that Pinder does, while making a solid bit of contact (78.4%). He's dealt with some real and long health issues over the last two years, but when he's healthy it is so easy to see how REAL his bat is. He's just one of those kids that comes to the plate with an aura or gravitas that just feels... different, ya know? Like you can sense something good is going to happen? Maybe not at the elite level of top prospects and Major Leaguers, but in the same way that you'd feel about a player like Brendan Donovan, Alec Burleson, or Juan Yepez.
Actually, now that I've said that, there's a little of Lane Thomas in how Chase Pinder hits and plays the field, in a very primitive and lazy evaluating way. I remember telling people that there were times when Thomas just didn't have "it", and you could see it in the way that he was playing the field and taking at-bats. There'd be times when Thomas would get reserved and indecisive, and you could see it in everyone of his twitchy motions. The other version of Thomas was a difference-making bat and center fielder that played with poise and confidence. For Thomas, those moments ended up not lasting long enough to matter enough at the next level.
The difference with Pinder as compared to Thomas is that Pinder's "issues" are clearly injury related, because when Pinder is healthy he's a potentially plus defensive outfielder (and maybe even in center) because he's quick and fearless and strong-armed, and he gets good reads. For my grade-inclined family, it's probably fair to grade his defense out at like a 60 when healthy.
Pinder is also potentially a difference making bat that is capable of hitting the ball at exit velocities of 115+ MPH while taking walks 15%+ of the time. The issue is, he just never seems to be on the field at full health long enough to hit the ball hard enough to show enough consistency to be the hitter that he is capable of being. While Pinder pulls the ball about half of the time, it's not beyond him to show pop while going to the opposite field. Another thing that Pinder does extremely well is keep the ball off of the ground, mostly hunting for line drives but also trying to put a thud into something in the air.
If Pinder ends up finding health and consistency, I mean, WATCH THE FUCK OUT. It's my belief that Chad Pinder's little brother has all of the potential to not only make a Major League debut, but also be a late-blooming bat with the potential to crush lefties and do some surprising - albeit strikeout-compromised - damage against righties. The consistency that we need to see is specifically in how often he makes the hard-type of contact. When you look at his batted-ball profile, it's just the frequency of the hard-hitting that is worrisome.
Then again, that isn't who Pinder is, either. If he could just increase his hard hit rate from about 27% by about 3% and get into the 30% territory then I think that would make a huge difference in his potential at Triple-A and beyond. Specifically if he can do it without dropping his contact rate. Sometimes we get pretty caught up in how hard someone can crush the ball (and for good reason because it's such a great indicator of future success) that we forget how important it is to make contact in the first place. It should go without saying, but if Pinder can continue to be himself while making more hard contact then he'll be better than he already is (and the same goes for every hitter ever in the history of ever).
Chase Pinder really is the ultimate sleeping giant of a hitter in the system. With the right amount of Devil Magic, health, and consistency hitting the ball hard, Pinder could be the next delightful annoyance for the Cardinals-hating section of both national media and opposition's fan bases.
Pinder finished the year at AAA receiving limited at-bats in few games. It's my hope that we get to see Pinder getting a large share of the outfield reps at all three positions early on in the season with the chance to prove that he is ready for a Major League debut if injury pushes him into that spot. If you are looking for an internal candidate that might open some eyes during spring training thanks to extended looks brought on by the WBC, I'm going to hope that Pinder ends up being one of those players. If I wasn't such a coward, I would have put him in the Top 20-25 on the list.
Thanks For Reading!! Kyle Reis