Shortstop with big arm draws praise from Marmol with patience at plate, power bat Cardinals News 

March 12th, 2023

JUPITER, Fla. — At 6-foot 5, 220 pounds, superstar slugger Jordan Walker can cast quite the shadow — one large enough to even throw shade over close friend and No. 2 Cardinals prospect Masyn Winn.

Winn, all 5-foot-11, 180 pounds of him, certainly has the bravado of a big guy, and he has done everything in his power to make a name for himself. And, yes, he’s even emerged from Walker’s enormous shadow. When Walker, ranked as the club’s top prospect and No. 4 in baseball by MLB Pipeline, hit a mammoth 430-foot home run early in camp, Winn came back a day later and bested his buddy with a 435-foot smash that briefly gave him bragging rights.

Winn, who roomed with Walker last season when they starred for Double-A Springfield, might be giving up six inches in height and 40 pounds, but in his mind’s eye the two best buddies are equals in every way.

“Me and Walker, I’d say we’re both five-tool athletes,” Winn said while playfully puffing out his chest. “I’m still working on the power — maybe I’m 4 1/2 with the power tool. We go out there every day and try to put on a show. There are a lot of fans out there and they want to see some entertainment, so we’re going to give it to them.”

Afforded plenty of playing time with starter Tommy Edman competing in the World Baseball Classic and Paul DeJong sidelined by arm fatigue, the 20-year-old shortstop came into Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Nationals having hit safely in seven of the eight games he appeared in. Not only that, Winn ranked among Grapefruit League leaders in OBP (.458, 4th), batting average (.381, 4th), slugging (.714, T-4th) and OPS (1.172, 4th).

Against the Nats, Winn opened the bottom of the first with a walk and used his blinding speed to score from first base on Alec Burleson’s double. Later, he showed off the bat control of a seasoned veteran by driving a ball deep into right for a sacrifice fly to plate another run.

That sort of play brought out some glowing praise from manager Oliver Marmol, who knew full well that Winn had a flashy glove and one of the best arms in the Cardinals’ system. What he didn’t know was how disciplined and how patient Winn was at the plate while alternating between hitting balls the opposite way for singles and occasionally turning on them for big flys.

“He’s further along offensively than I would have anticipated — physically and mentally,” Marmol said. “I would say his personality lends itself to this game. He has a lot of confidence and a bit of, ‘I don’t care what anybody thinks,’ in the mix.

“The best players take the field and they’re respectful of [the manager’s] thoughts, but they don’t care, and instead just go out and do what they are capable of doing,” Marmol said. “When you have that mix like Masyn does and you don’t allow [media hype] to impact how you experience success or failure, those are good traits to have.”

Winn — who was a part of the Cardinals’ 2020 MLB Draft (second round, No. 54 overall) haul with first-rounder Walker (No. 21 overall), right-hander Tink Hence (No. 63 overall) and Burleson (No. 70 overall) — has the kind of traits that have made him one of the fastest-rising prospects. Last season, while splitting time at High-A Peoria and Springfield, Winn hit .283 with 12 home runs and 63 RBIs over 119 games. Even more impressive were his 36 doubles, eight triples and 43 stolen bases in 48 attempts.

“I’ve been telling everybody here about Masyn’s pop and he’s been able to show it off so far,” Walker said recently of his closest friend.

Winn shot to fame last summer when he unleashed a 100.5 mph throw from shortstop in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game to retire a runner at first. Recently, Winn showed off his cannon of an arm when he ranged to his left, went to a knee to stop a grounder and fired a 99.9 mph throw to retire the speedy Grae Kessinger.

This spring, Winn has shown there’s plenty of pop in the bat to go along with the firepower of his arm. Though he knows he will most likely start this season with Triple-A Memphis, he did admit to thinking about someday reaching the big leagues.

“These are big league guys and who I want to be playing with in the future, so I’m excited to give everybody a little show before I get there,” Winn said with a sly smile. “I’m going to be playing baseball wherever I go, whether that’s Springfield, Memphis or St. Louis.

“Right now, everything I’ve done is just a small sample size, so I don’t want to get too happy. I want to keep a level head and keep pushing singles around and making plays.”