Home BaseballSt. Louis Cardinals Pumping the Brakes on Walker and Winn

Pumping the Brakes on Walker and Winn

by Jason McGrew
Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn are both very exciting prospects.  Jordan Walker is the most exciting Cardinal prospect since Oscar Tavares.  Masyn Winn looks like a legit young shortstop that could become an all-star at the position.  They are both putting up very strong numbers this spring.  Many fans are wanting to see these guys on the big league roster on opening.  The question is, are they ready?
Some of you are already pissed off at me for even questioning if they are ready.  That’s fine.  It’s still a very valid question to ask.  It’s a question Cardinals team management are probably already wrestling with.
In the case of Jordan Walker, the Cardinals have three viable outfielders in Tyler O’Neill, Lars Nootbaar and Dylan Carlson.  All three are athletic and good defenders.  Tyler O’Neill has mammoth power coupled with great speed. Lars Nootbaar is a left handed bat that has reasonable power and good speed.  Dylan Carlson is a switch hitter that hits left handed pitching but does still struggle against righties.  All three are young.  O’Neill is 27, Nootbaar 25 and Carlson 24. For now at least, all three are healthy.  Nobody should be shocked if those three guys are you opening day outfielders.
Jordan Walker has been very impressive this spring.  As the morning of March 14, he has played in 11 game and has had 33 plate appearances.  In those plate appearances he has posted an eye popping slash line of .424/.424/.788.  The only concern here is that he has not drawn even a single walk over that time.
So what’s the problem?  Why not play him on opening day?  According to baseball reference, the quality of his pitching opponents has been 7.8. For reference, they base this on what level a pitcher pitched the previous season.  10 points for MLB, 8 for AAA, 7 for AA, 5 for High A and so on.  You can view this on the baseball reference website.  Jordan Walker’s average opponent this spring has been between AA and AAA.  Add to that, Walker himself has never played above AA.  He’s still just 20 years old.  How would he handle actual major league pitching? If he doesn’t hit well, would they be stunting his growth? Again, these are very valid questions to ask.
I personally think that Jordan Walker is ready to be a productive MLB player.  He would at times struggle, but he’ll make adjustments.  The Cardinals do not need to start him with the big club, but I think they should.  I hope that they do.  If they don’t, I will not be shocked. There is a very compelling argument for starting him in AAA.
Masyn Winn has also been sensational this spring.  In 9 games and 28 plate appearances, he has a slash line of .348/.429/.652.  However, his opponent quality score is just 7.0. His average opponent has only reached AA.  Also, I see less playing time opportunities for Winn on the major league level at the present moment than I do for Jordan Walker.  Tommy Edman is the teams starting shortstop.  He may well win the gold glove there. He’s also coming off of a productive season at the dish where he was 11% above league average.  That’s more than enough to justify an everyday gig.  At 2b, the Cardinals have a platoon of Brendan Donovan and Nolan Gorman.  Gorman is likely to get a lot of DH at bats but Donovan is so versatile that Gorman will get plenty of time at 2b. Both are left handed. Gorman has light tower power and Brendan Donovan has also been lighting up spring training pitching.
In my opinion, Masyn Winn absolutely should start the season in AAA.  I question his major league readiness and there is much more playing time available in AAA.  Winn turns 21 next week. He’s still very young.  His day in the show will come.  That day will have to wait, for now.
+ posts

Related Articles