1. Alec Burleson
Alec Burleson! Perhaps we’ve been looking at the wrong St. Louis Cardinals in Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson and Lars Nootbaar all along.
Burleson, selected 70th overall in 2020, could represent the Yankees’ next generation of mashing ex-Cardinals behind Luke Voit and Harrison Bader. Burleson looks more Voit-y than Bader-esque, filling out a 6-2, 212-pound frame with on-base skills and a potent lefty bat.
Still just 24 years old out of East Carolina, Burleson hit a paltry .188 in 48 big-league at-bats last year (with a homer), but laid waste to the high minors, triple-slashing .331/.372/.532 with a .904 OPS last season at Triple-A Memphis. In his second pro season (remember: drafted in 2020!), he struck out just 67 times in 432 at-bats.
Maybe snagging the No. 5 prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Cardinals Top 30 is a bit of an overreach, but O’Neill/Carlson/Nootbaar/Juan Yepez are all ahead of Burleson on the current outfield depth chart, (and Willson Contreras can play a little left field, too). It all depends on who the Cards favor, and whether they’ve got patience to let the new blood develop (in the recent past, they’ve had no issue with that, though).
It will take an impressive package to secure Burleson that fills St. Louis’ other needs. Maybe this is a proper spot to deploy Clarke Schmidt, along with another pitcher like Yoendrys Gomez/Brendan Beck/Drew Thorpe? It’s certainly worth wondering whether there’s another mutually-beneficial handshake trade here in the wake of last summer’s jaw-dropping-but-ultimately-fair Jordan Montgomery/Bader swap.