Masyn Winn (left) and Jordan Walker, both 20 years old and drafted in 2020, are top prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. (Photo: PJ Maigi, Springfield Cardinals)

The young Springfield Cardinals phenoms, drafted together two years ago and teammates most of the way throughout their minor-league journey, were all smiles on Tuesday at Hammons Field.

For Jordan Waker and Masyn Winn, both 20 and both headed to the prestigious Futures Game on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, this is the next big step.

“It’s a big honor,” Springfield Cardinals hitting coach Tyger Pederson said of what a Futures Game invitation means. “Both of those guys have worked extremely hard and it’s going to be fun to watch them in the Futures Game.”

The Futures Game, played in proximity to the Major League Baseball All-Star game, brings together the best of the best in terms of minor-league prospects. 

The game features the future stars from National League organizations against their American League counterparts. It’s set for 6 p.m. Saturday. It can be seen on the streaming service Peacock.

Jordan Walker entered this week’s homestand hitting .310 with seven home runs and 15 stolen bases. (Photo: Springfield Cardinals)

Duo ranked in Top 100 prospects

MLB.com recently updated its Top 100 prospects list, with third baseman Walker checking in at No. 7, the highest-ever for a Springfield Cardinals player. Winn, at shortstop, is ranked No. 89. 

“I can’t even put into words what this means,” said Walker, a first-round draft choice and 21st overall selection in 2020, before Tuesday’s homestand opener against the Tulsa Drillers. “This is something I’ve been looking forward to since I first saw the Futures Game when I was a junior in high school.

“It just looked electric. I didn’t know how it worked or anything, I just knew that I wanted to be in there. Hearing my name and knowing I was going to be in the Futures Game, it’s pretty exciting to me.”

As it is for Winn, a second-rounder two years ago as the 54th overall selection. He admitted being a bit surprised at joining Walker in making the trip to the west coast later this week.

“I’m having a decent year, but thought it would be next year,” Winn said of the Futures Game berth. “When they told me, I was through the roof.

“It’s the Futures Game for a reason. This is the future of the league. I think being around some of the guys who are destined for greatness, it’s gonna be a really good experience.”

Walker entered Tuesday night’s game against Tulsa hitting .310 in 69 games with seven home runs, 32 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. His on-base plus slugging stood at an impressive .888.

Winn, in 39 games since his promotion from Peoria, was at .248 with six home runs, 20 RBIs and eight stolen bases. 

Masyn Winn joined the Springfield Cardinals in late May after starting the season in High-A Peoria. (Photo: Springfield Cardinals)

Walker, Winn have become best friends

Both say the Futures Game is more special because they get to experience it together. They’ve become best friends since being drafted together two years ago.

“Ever since we got drafted together it’s been all fun and all smiles,” Walker said. He added that the first thing the two did, upon learning they were Futures Game-bound, was put up basketball shots at the court in their apartment complex.

“It’s been great, being close in age,” Winn said of he and Walker’s relationship. “It’s great to have a guy who’s kind of like-minded in how we think about and go about things. We play video games together, talk all the time about baseball, talk all the time not about baseball. It’s been a great relationship.”

Walker joked he thought of Winn as “a weirdo” when the two met after being drafted. The 5-foot-10 Winn was a bit more serious about his first impression of Walker, marveling at his teammate’s 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame.

“I wasn’t expecting him to be as large a human as he is,” Winn said. “Watching him play the game, it’s different. He’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Walker said Winn has helped him lift his mental game since arriving at Springfield in late May after starting the season in High-A Peoria. 

“What I’m working on now is what he has. It’s that confidence,” Walker said of Winn. “No matter what happens, he’s confident he’s going to get that next at-bat or get that next ball. It’s just a presence he has about him. 

“Some of the plays he makes (defensively) are unbelievable. I can see being confident when you have some of the tools that he has.”

Winn said he and Walker both try to play the game with hustle, energy and with a smile. Pederson said both have improved dramatically this season with a lot more ceiling to reach for.

“Both of those guys feed off each other’s energy. They come to the yard ready to work and they always have a big smile on their face. I enjoy working with them.

“Both have had a ton of growth. Jordan has a lot of maturity and going about his daily business like a professional has been something that definitely stands out to me.”

With Los Angeles the next immediate step for Walker and Winn, it’s clear that the ultimate destination — Busch Stadium in St. Louis — is coming into much sharper focus than when this season began.

Walker said he’s been to Busch Stadium, but not for a game. 

“I would like to see it from the field,” a smiling Walker said of the Cardinals’ big-league ballpark.

Added Winn: “We got drafted together. We played in Low-A together, High-A and now here. Now we get to go to Dodger Stadium. It’s like a dream come true. I think the next step is really the show. It’s exciting.”

Cardinals homestand at a glance

The Springfield Cardinals opened a six-game homestand Tuesday night against the Tulsa Drillers, Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Springfield won 7-6 as Malcom Nunez hit a home run and had three RBIs.

Remaining homestand games vs. Tulsa:

  • Wednesday – 6:35 p.m. (Purina Woof Wednesday)
  • Thursday – 7:05 p.m. (Vision Clinic Tommy Edman Gold Glove bobblehead, first 2,000 fans; Thirsty Thursday)
  • Friday – 7:05 p.m. (Mercy Dri-Fit Polo Shirt, first 2,000 fans; Friday Night Fireworks)
  • Saturday – 6:35 p.m. (Hiland Dairy Captain America Bobblehead, first 2,000 fans; Kids Pre-Game Super Hero Parade)
  • Sunday – 6:05 p.m. (Hiland Ice Cream Sunday; Kids Run the Bases)

Lyndal Scranton

Lyndal Scranton is a Springfield native who has covered sports in the Ozarks for more than 35 years, witnessing nearly every big sports moment in the region during the last 50 years. The Springfield Area Sports Hall of Famer and live-fire cooking enthusiast also serves as PR Director for Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri, co-hosts The Sports Reporters on Jock 96.9 FM, 99.9 FM and 1060 AM on Monday mornings with Ned Reynolds and is co-host of the Tailgate Guys BBQ Podcast. Contact him at Lscranton755@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @LyndalScranton. More by Lyndal Scranton