photo: Michael McGreevy (Springfield Cardinals)
Opening the top five of The Cardinal Nation’s prospect countdown for 2023 is the first-round draft pick in 2021 who has already made 20 Double-A starts. What is needed in Michael McGreevy’s development and how soon may the right-hander reach St. Louis? FREE report!
Age: 22 years old
Acquired: Selected in the first round, 18th overall, in the 2021 First-Year Player Draft
Home: San Clemente, California
Opened 2022: Peoria Chiefs (High-A)
Primary team in 2022: Springfield Cardinals (Double-A)
Finished 2022: Springfield Cardinals (Double-A)
Prior Top 50 ranking – 2022 #8
Click on the above photo to be taken to McGreevy’s player page at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biography and history information.
Blake Newberry’s scouting report
Blake’s ranking – no. 7
(current grade/future grade)
I view Michael McGreevy similarly to Matthew Liberatore and Zack Thompson. In fact, in my personal rankings, I had them ranked in succession at 9,8, and 7. To me, each looks likely to be an MLB pitcher but is held back from a mid-to-top of the rotation ceiling by at least one major factor. For McGreevy, that factor is stuff.
He has four potential average of better pitches but none of them are potential plus pitches and they still need some development to reach their ceilings. He can also struggle to put hitters away at times due to his lack of a true out pitch.
The good news is that McGreevy commands his arsenal well and that helps his stuff play up as he’s capable of hitting his spots or missing by only a bit. He’ll occasionally miss by more and he has worse command of his changeup than any other pitch but overall, it’s his best attribute.
With that said, I like his changeup a lot and it has flashed the potential to be the best pitch in his arsenal. It doesn’t show that potential enough for me to rank it as such and it’s not too uncommon for his changeup to get away from him but it has good tumbling action when he throws it well. It’s his lowest graded pitch for now and I think it has the widest range of potential outcomes. As I said, it could be the best pitch in his arsenal, but it could also be the worst if he doesn’t improve his feel for it.
His breaking balls have also shown a potential to be above average pitches with his slider being his main weapon and thrown more than his changeup and curveball combined, according to Baseball America. He commands the pitch well and though it doesn’t get a ton of break, it is a relatively hard pitch thrown in the mid-80s with enough drop to be effective.
Michael McGreevy goes to the slider to ring up his 3rd K of the evening. Pretty great pitch here. pic.twitter.com/DbxfgL2Z71
— Kyle Reis, 58% Neanderthal (@kyler416) July 1, 2022
This is the pitch that gets the most chases and whiffs from what I’ve seen and I am ready to call it his most effective pitch at this moment in time. It’s at its best when it’s buried beneath the zone but it’s hittable when it’s left up. As a command pitcher, though, he should have the ability to use it effectively.
His final secondary offering is a curveball and I think it has the potential to catch up to his slider, but it is a little behind it now, mostly due to location. The pitch gets more downward movement and, again, it plays better at the bottom of the zone, but he doesn’t always put it there. If he could refine his command of the pitch to keep it at a hitter’s knees, it could play as an average to above average pitch.
Michael McGreevy has his first K of the evening. Drops the curveball to get it after allowing a single and a walk pic.twitter.com/T9V5BRqRLm
— Kyle Reis, 58% Neanderthal (@kyler416) May 13, 2022
The pitch I am least fond of is McGreevy’s sinker. It averages around 92 mph and gets some arm side run but not enough to make it more than a fringe-average pitch. It’s simply not lively enough and not fast enough to grade as anything better than average and that is McGreevy’s limiting factor.
I feel similarly about him as I do about Liberatore in the sense that I think McGreevy would benefit from being a breaking/offspeed heavy arm. He threw his fastball over 50% of the time in 2022 and that might play fine enough at Double-A, but it won’t at the major league level unless he adds some velocity. That’s entirely possible as he has touched 96 despite sitting 92 and has a big 6’4”, 215 pound frame.
If he can add velocity, he will increase his prospect status as his fastball can be velocity dependent. He’s still going to be a guy who could benefit from mixing his pitches and keeping them down in the zone. That likely puts his curveball on the back burner as a curveball doesn’t tunnel well with a low sinker, but his sinker/slider/change combo plays really well at the bottom of the zone.
Three pitch gif of a Michael McGreevy Strikeout. Heater, slider, then change for the K pic.twitter.com/Ynnuv2JC4V
— Kyle Reis, 58% Neanderthal (@kyler416) July 1, 2022
Regarding velocity, it looks like McGreevy may have a little bit of premature rotation in him as it looks like he has already started rotating his body a little when his front foot lands. Holding himself back an extra split second would increase the energy in his body and could help his velocity tick up. It’s not a huge amount of premature rotation if it’s there, though, and since MiLB TV doesn’t give me an angle from directly behind him, it’s difficult to tell if it’s there or not.
McGreevy’s arm can sometimes get a bit long and his relatively smooth delivery can occasionally become a more high-effort affair. I’ve seen him lean back a bit after front foot strike a la Jack Ralston, though it’s not as extreme as Ralston, and that can take away from his command when he does it. He doesn’t do it all that often though, so it’s not a worrying problem for someone who projects as a pitchability starter.
The final thing I want to note is that he does have some heavy platoon splits as right-handed hitters have a tough time squaring him up (.646 OPS) but left-handed hitters hit him pretty well (.804 OPS) and tallied 11 of the 15 homers he allowed. Two possible solutions are to develop his changeup into a real weapon or to add a cutter to his arsenal. I like his changeup a lot as I said above but improving feel for the pitch can be difficult so I wouldn’t mind seeing him tinker with a cutter to see if that’s a viable option too.
McGreevy’s strongest traits are his potentially plus command and his ability to limit free passes, and those traits give him a high floor. His ceiling isn’t immense but his ranking here is largely due to his strong pitchability and potential for four average or better pitches. That gives him a strong starters profile even if he does lack a true plus pitch or high-end velocity. That may not be ace potential, but it makes him a solid prospect who is making the jump into our top-5 after throwing almost 100 Double-A innings in just his first professional season.
Summary: Michael McGreevy throws four potentially average or better pitches and pairs that with potentially plus command. He lacks high end stuff but he should have enough in his arsenal to stick as a no. 4 starting pitcher who relies on plus command to mix all his pitches and get ground balls.
Future Value: 50
Role: 4 starter 4:00 FIP/Low closer or high set-up
Brian Walton’s environmental impact report
Brian’s ranking – no. 5
In high school in California, McGreevy was a very good shortstop along with pitching. However, once he reached campus at Cal Santa Barbara, he was moved to the mound full time.
McGreevy operated out of the bullpen in his first collegiate season, making 29 appearances and posting a 5-1 record with six saves. He moved into the rotation for his sophomore season, but only made four starts due to COVID stopping the schedule. In his final year at UCSB, McGreevy started 16 games and threw 101 2/3 innings. He averaged 6 1/3 innings per start while walking just 11 batters and fanning 115.
The righty increased his strikeout rate each year, from 7.9 K/9 as a freshman to 10.2 K/9 as a junior. Despite the uptick in strikeouts, McGreevy did not sacrifice control and in fact improved from 1.9 BB/9 as a freshman to 1.0 BB/9 as a junior. He also limited home runs, having allowed just 10 in his 189 2/3 collegiate innings.
However, McGreevy’s aversion to walks also meant that he was hittable, allowing 9.6 hits per nine innings in his junior season. His WHIP (1.18) was still solid due to his excellent control, but he showed a need to more effectively manage contact.
His results as a junior were impressive and certainly drew the Cardinals’ attention. His 0.97 walks-per-nine innings ratio and 10.45 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2021 both ranked second among all qualified Division I pitchers. McGreevy led the Big West Conference with his 101 2/3 innings pitched in 2021, again earning First Team All-Big West honors and he was named a semifinalist for National Pitcher of the Year Award by the College Baseball Foundation.
As the 18th overall selection, McGreevy settled with the Cardinals for $2.75 million, almost three-quarters of a million below slot value. That savings covered most of the over-slot bonus given to second-rounder Joshua Baez.McGreevy is only the second college pitcher selected by the Cardinals with their first pick since 2015, following University of Kentucky left-hander Zack Thompson in 2019. It is a return to the formula the organization followed in 2012 (Michael Wacha), 2013 (Marco Gonzales) and 2014 (Luke Weaver).
After the 2021-drafted pitchers had thrown a full spring season for their respective college or high school teams, the Cardinals brought them to Jupiter, Florida for evaluation once signed.
After workouts and scrimmages, most were slowly eased into official action in the organization’s entry-level US team, the Florida Complex League Cardinals, throwing a single inning every five to seven days.
This includes McGreevy. The right-hander progressed to facing external hitting in mid-August and made two game appearances before he was promoted to an age-appropriate level. He joined the Class-A Palm Beach Cardinals with less than a month to go in the season.
McGreevy did not accelerate his workload level nor did he dominate with Palm Beach and did not move up further in 2021. He made five starts for the Beach Birds, four of which went for one inning, along with a single two-inning outing. He was charged with a symmetric, but less than ideal six earned runs in six innings.
Overall, in his seven brief starts between the two professional levels, McGreevy yielded at least one hit in every outing and was scored upon in six of seven for a 9.39 ERA. Needless to say, it wasn’t a dominating debut, though his xFIPs were far more palatable 2.35 and 3.89, respectively, in rookie ball and Class-A.
His high level of contact continued from college. This is illustrated by his .378 batting average against and a bloated 2.09 WHIP, primarily due to his 14 hits allowed. His BABIP was an unbelievably high .667 in the FCL and a still very high .391 with Palm Beach.
McGreevy fanned seven against two walks in his 7 2/3 innings and his ground ball to fly ball ratio was a strong 4.3-1.
Stepping back from the numbers, the raw material is clearly there. Following the season, Baseball America gave McGreevy the dual titles of Best Curveball and Best Control of all pitchers in the Cardinals system. No other organization hurler was as highly recognized.
It would be very unusual for a player drafted the prior July to receive a big-league spring training camp invitation in his first spring, so it was not surprising that McGreevy reported to 2022 minor league camp.
Assigned to High-A Peoria to open the regular season, McGreevy got off to a very fast start. He was named the Midwest League’s Pitcher of the Month for April after receiving the weekly award for the period of the 11th through the 17th.
McGreevy went 1-0 with a 0.76 earned run average over the course of four starts. He whiffed 25 batters in 23 2/3 innings and walked just one of the 83 batters he faced. As a result, he posted a sparkling 0.59 WHIP and held opposing hitters to a .159 batting average. Even so, his teammate Gordon Graceffo was slightly better, winning the organization’s Pitcher of the Month honors.
The two right-handers were promoted together, along with top prospect shortstop Masyn Winn, to Springfield on May 24.
McGreevy recorded his best Springfield monthly ERA in June (3.21) while going 3-1, giving up 14 runs on 35 hits and striking out 34 batters, his most in a month. His monthly marks were inconsistent with July (6.75), his only really rough period. He rebounded to 3.09 in August but finished with a 4.96 ERA over three September outings.
In 20 games started at Double-A, McGreevy posted a 4.64 ERA with a 6-4 record.
Between the two stops, McGreevy logged a 3.99 ERA/4.05 FIP. He struck out 117 for a rate of 7.3 batters per nine innings. McGreevy finished with the most starts of any pitcher in the system with 28, and was just 1/3 of an inning off a share of the organization lead in innings pitched. His walk rate of 1.9 batters per nine innings was third in the system and he tied for the fourth-most pitching wins with nine.
Back on draft day in 2021, Cardinals scouting director Randy Flores said that McGreevy thought he had “another jump in his physicality” ahead that would allow him to get stronger and further develop his pitches further, specifically his changeup and finding more velocity in his fastball (potentially up to 97 mph).
It would have been nicer had McGreevy delivered a more consistent performance in 2022, but for his first full season, it wasn’t bad at all. It is more that his fellow draftee Graceffo was even better.
After 20 Double-A starts in 2022, McGreevy should be ready for Memphis, where he could join returnees Matthew Liberatore, Connor Thomas plus Graceffo to form one of the strongest Cardinals Triple-A rotations in recent memory.
As Blake noted, McGreevy still has much work to do to bring himself to the front of that queue. Liberatore already has MLB experience and Thomas has both a year of Triple-A and a 40-man spot in his pocket. Even Graceffo looks to be ahead of McGreevy at this point, but that can change with further development.
There is no reason to believe that McGreevy cannot become a middle to back of the rotation starter in MLB. He just may not receive his first real chance until 2024, but if so, that should be just fine. There is no hurry to push him. For example, a full year-plus at Triple-A is what Liberatore and Zack Thompson needed before they were given their first shots with St. Louis.
McGreevy will become Rule 5 eligible following the 2024 season, so he has two more years to pitch his way onto the 40-man roster. That seems very doable if he continues to grow.
MLB debut: 2024
Rule 5 Eligible: 2024
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