Velocity Boost Helps Cardinals’ Quinn Mathews Find New Level


A phrase that lefthander Quinn Mathews carried out of Stanford and through all the offseason work he did to be ready to make a strong first impression was quick to say and quick to do—but it took time to make happen.

“Velocity buys you grace,” he repeated.

After drafting Mathews in the fourth round in 2023, the Cardinals shut him down because he threw 124.2 innings as a college senior. The delay gave him time to add strength, add weight and add velocity that has contributed to his rapid rise this season.

“Everyone wants to come out of the draft and compete, and of course I wanted play, but I understood what I had to do,” Mathews said. “I definitely was itching to make a first impression.”

Through his first 10 pro starts, Mathews recorded a 2.26 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 55.2 innings at the Cardinals’ two Class A affiliates. The 23-year-old allowed 27 hits and walked 16.

The Cardinals say they are open to advancing Mathews again this season. Internally, he’s considered one of the system’s most polished pitching prospects, and an evaluator with the team said he has four quality pitches.

That includes a fastball that sits around 95 mph and has been clocked up to 97 this season.

“Velocity isn’t the be-all, end-all, and there’s a lot more to what you have to do with movement and execution,” Mathews said. “But it does buy you a little grace.”

Mathews wanted to add strength, and to do that he had to add size to his 6-foot-5 frame. He said he put on around 25 pounds after setting up a nutrition and training plan with the Cardinals. The added size has not thrown off his delivery, which adds an element of deception to his pitches.

Rather, he feels the durability that comes with size. Along with his jolted fastball, Mathews added power to a curveball that he uses more often than he did in college.

After posting a 39% strikeout rate that was one of the highest in the minor leagues, it’s clear that velocity buys more than grace.

It has yielded results that have accelerated his rise toward the big leagues.


Jordan Walker crushed his first home run of the season at any level in his 107th at-bat since being demoted to Triple-A Memphis. The former top prospect and Opening Day right fielder had his second option year used so that he could work on a line-drive level for his swing and a way to deal with the outside and low pitch that MLB pitchers used against him. “I think I just got too big and I over-swung a lot,” he told the Post-Dispatch. “I never lost my faith in myself as a hitter. I didn’t put a swing that could cause damage on (the pitch).”

— Triple-A Memphis third baseman Cesar Prieto, acquired from the Orioles in 2023, won the organization’s minor league player of the month award after batting .274/.343/.537 in 24 games. The 25-year-old is considered to be one of the better pure hitters in the system, and during a strong spring showed his knack for contact. In his first full season with the Cardinals, he has a .836 OPS in his first 50 games to go with a .296 average.

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