The St. Louis Cardinals may not have much more to play for down the stretch of a bitterly disappointing 2023 season, but they did just gave fans a heck of a reason to keep tuning in. Infielder Masyn Winn, the team’s consensus top prospect and MLB Pipeline’s No. 32 overall, was officially promoted to the Majors hours after Thursday’s loss against the New York Mets. He’ll join the team in St. Louis, and he’s expected to make his long-awaited MLB debut on Friday night.
This move has been in the works for weeks now, as Brendan Donovan was lost for the year with an elbow injury and St. Louis’ fire sale at the 2023 trade deadline included sending Paul DeJong to the Blue Jays — and opening up a hole at either shortstop or second base. Those just so happen to be the positions Winn plays, and with the Cardinals focused on figuring out who will be part of what they hope is a bounce-back 2024 season, it always made sense for them to give the 21-year-old some extended run over the next few weeks to see what they have and potentially allow Winn to hit the ground running next year.
Of course, Winn’s also been forcing the issue with his play of late. A second-round pick back in 2020, his physical tools have long been obvious — a two-way player in high school, the Cardinals toyed with letting him do both in the Minors before eventually settling him in as a shortstop, where he now has maybe the best arm of any non-pitcher in the Minors.
The defensive ability has never been in question. What has been at times is his ability to square up the ball consistently enough to be an everyday Major Leaguer, and he’s shown encouraging signs recently. Winn is slashing .283/.356/.465 with 17 homers and 17 steals in his first taste of Triple-A — including a blistering .336/.407/.664 mark since the start of July. This is a man who stole 43 bases in 119 games across two levels of the Minors last year, so we know he can fly when he gets on base, and if he keeps the gains he’s made in terms of patience at the plate and hitting the ball in the air it’ll allow him to unlock those physical tools at the highest level.
St. Louis still has Tommy Edman around, but with Nolan Gorman and Lars Nootbaar now on the IL, he figures to be needed all over the diamond. That should free up shortstop on a regular basis for Winn, where he’ll have a long leash to get his feet wet against Major League pitching. There could be an offensive learning curve, but he’s shown a tremendous ability to adapt even against increases in competition, and this is not an athletic package — or an organization, considering the Cards’ recent track record developing quality position players — that it would be wise to bet against.