The Cardinals got their first glance at one of the prospects hauled in by the trade deadline selloff on Tuesday night.
Thomas Saggese (pronounced “soo-JAY-see”) – an infielder acquired in the trade that sent Jordan Montgomery and Chris Stratton to the Texas Rangers on Sunday – went 1-for-3 with a single, walk and run scored in Springfield’s 8-2 win at Hammons Field.
He impressed with his glove too.
Playing second base, Saggese ranged far to his left to field a sharp groundball then whirled a throw from the right field grass to retire Northwest Arkansas’ leadoff man Peyton Wilson in the fourth inning.
A useful bookend to a whirlwind weekend.
“Yeah, I definitely thought about (being traded), with the Rangers being stacked with all the infield positions pretty much locked up for the foreseeable future. But then when it happens, it’s different, you know?” Saggese said.
The Cardinals also acquired RHP Tekoah Roby – Saggese’s teammate for three years in the Rangers’ organization – in the Montgomery trade.
Roby (No. 4) and Saggese (No. 8) slot into the Cardinals’ Top 10 prospects per MLB.com and along with Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn, the Cardinals boast a loaded group from the 2020 MLB draft class.
Saggese was in the Frisco RoughRiders’ lineup at Wichita on Sunday. He was pulled after the first inning and by the fifth inning, the RoughRiders’ field coordinator delivered the news.
“He came up to me, shook my hand, and said ‘congratulations, you’re going to be a St. Louis Cardinal.’”
“I actually went home with the team, back to Frisco, packed up all my stuff yesterday. Then woke up pretty early this morning, about 6:30, hopped on a flight (to Springfield),” Saggese said.
First game as a Cardinal ✅
First hit as a Cardinal ✅
Thomas Saggese, we are so happy you’re a Cardinal. pic.twitter.com/8hHESuXwgy
— Springfield Cardinals (@Sgf_Cardinals) August 2, 2023
The Cardinals were not on Saggese’s radar, and he didn’t meet with St. Louis’ scouts prior to the 2020 MLB Draft when the Texas Rangers selected him in the fifth round. But the 21-year-old California native caught the Cardinals’ attention by tearing up the Texas League this summer.
Saggese is slashing .314/.380/.511 with 15 home runs and 78 RBIs in 422 plate appearances in 2023. Walker slashed .306/.388/.510 with 19 homers and 68 RBIs in Double-A last season, a performance rewarded with St. Lous Minor League Co-Player of the Year honors.
For now, the message is simple.
“Right away, he came in – he’s a very polite kid – and he’s having a good year. We just want him to continue doing his thing,” Springfield manager Jose Leger said.
“You’re already playing in the (Texas) league, it’s not like you’re making a big change. You are just changing the uniform – we want you to continue to play your game.”
When asked to describe his game, Saggese was succinct.
“If I want to be good, I got to work. I was never really crazy gifted, but I think through hard work I got a lot better. That’s something (my parents) instilled in me,” he said.
“I just want to be someone who is known as someone that plays hard.”
For an organization determined to rebound into playoff form quickly, Saggese has already succeeded in high-leverage autumn pro ball.
Called up to Frisco for the RoughRiders’ playoff run last fall, Saggese delivered a game-tying hit in the ninth inning of the Texas League championship game that Frisco went on to win 7-5 in extras.
Roby is nursing an injured shoulder and he reported to the Cardinals’ facilities in Florida for rehab. The 21-year-old righthander is 2-3 with a 5.05 ERA in 2023, but he generates swing-and-miss and carries a 10.98 K/9 rate in 173 MiLB innings pitched.
Saggese can’t wait for Roby to return.
“He’s one of my better friends, he’s the man, I love the guy. We signed together in 2020, he’s the first person I met. He works really hard, good pitcher, attacks the zone. It’s going to be sweet to have him here.”