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Minor League Update: A ball leagues

How are the Palm Beach and Peoria squads looking?

Peoria Chiefs vs Bowling Green Hot Rods Set Number: X162640 TK1

Today is part two of the final minor league update of the 2022 season. On Thursday, in case you missed it, I covered the rookie leagues. A lot of the players highlighted won’t go on to do anything at the MLB level, but a few might and you might want to be able to say “oh I remember hearing about that guy when he was in rookie leagues.” As we progress up the minor league ladder, more guys will have MLB careers and we may even see them relatively soon. Palm Beach’s last game of the year was cancelled due to rain, so the Low A players will be really easy to update. Peoria will be less so as they lost a 12-11 game which featured 17 hits and seven extra-base hits, so that’s going to affect the numbers. The prospect numbers are Fangraphs because it’s the very convenient for me.

Tink Hence (RHP, 19-years-old) - #7 prospect

Stats (Low A): 16 Gs, 52.1 IP, 41.5 K%, 7.7 BB%, 55.1 GB%, 1.38 ERA/1.59 FIP/1.94 xFIP

I mean these numbers are just absurd. It’s one thing to strike out 41.5% of batters - actually that on its own is ridiculous - but usually at a lower level like this, it comes with little command. But he’s not walking many either. And he’s getting groundballs! I’m excited to see what he can do next year and very curious on if he’s going to start like a normal pitcher and not be limited to 3 or 4 innings. I think he can’t be let completely off the gas, because he would far surpass 52.1 IP, but I don’t think you need to limit his innings for that many starts.

Ian Bedell (RHP, 22-years-old) - #13 prospect

I’m not going to list stats, because Bedell returned from Tommy John surgery fairly recently and was still undergoing rehab appearances. He threw 3 innings in the complex league, striking out 42.9% of hitters. He threw 2.2 IP in Low A, allowed six hits and two runs, but also struck out 4 and had a 2.16 xFIP. With just 5.2 IP thrown in game situations, I imagine they have some sort of plan for how to make up some innings in non-game situations for the rest of this year. He seems like he’ll be ready for High A next year, but how many innings can he throw?

Leonardo Bernal (C, 18-years-old) - #15 prospect

Stats (Low A): 171 PAs, .256/.316/.455, 7 BB%, 18.7 K%, .199 ISO, .280 BABIP, 117 wRC+

Catchers are so tricky to evaluate as prospects. I don’t know his defensive reputation, but I have to think the Cardinals have to be relatively high on it for him to go straight from the DSL to Low A as an 18-year-old. Nothing that terribly exciting about his hitting except that he’s doing it at 18 and is a catcher.

Joshua Baez (OF, 19-years-old) - #18 prospect

Stats (Complex): 43 PAs, .237/.326/.395, 11.6 BB%, 32.6 K%, .158 ISO, .348 BABIP, 103 wRC+

Low A: 79 PAs, .286/.418/.540, 13.9 BB%, 38 K%, .254 ISO, .484 BABIP, 171 wRC+

It’s weird to be saying this, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hitting line as high as Baez who so clearly needs to repeat the level. Granted, we’re not talking many plate appearances here. I checked to see if he cut down on his strikeouts as he got more plate appearances, buuut he’s pretty much struck out a bunch the whole time.

Gustavo Rodriguez (RHP, 21-years-old) - #23 prospect

Stats (Low A): 27 G, 57.2 IP, 28.3 K%, 11.2 BB%, 51.4 GB%, 2.65 ERA/3.54 FIP/3.51 xFIP

Rodriguez had bad starts last year as a “starter”, although he threw just 40 innings while appearing in 16 games and making 10 starts. Despite not technically being a starter, his role doesn’t seem a ton different. He made one start this year, throwing 3 innings and allowing three runs. That was his first appearance. But he’s matched that innings total five times in relief and even thrown more than 3 innings three times. So I’m not sure they’ve abandoned him as a starter yet.

Jimmy Crooks III (C, 20-years-old) - 4th round, ‘22 draft

Stats (Low A): 96 PAs, .266/.396/.468, 12.5 BB%, 22.9 K%, .203 ISO, .333 BABIP, 150 wRC+

Welcome to the top 20 Cardinals prospects Jimmy. These are some truly exciting stats. Left-handed catcher with power goes straight to Low A and mashes.

Victor Scott II (OF, 21-years-old) - 5th round, ‘22 draft

Stats (Low A): 142 PAs, .222/.358/.389, 16.9 BB%, 18.3 K%, .167 ISO, .262 BABIP, 115 wRC+

I did not notice until now that the Cardinals followed up a “The Third” with a “The Second” in the draft. Anyway, Scott has some pop, has a great K/BB, and for some reason the BABIP wasn’t there. But still a 115 wRC+. Plus, 13 stolen bases to 3 caught stealing. Centerfield with speed. Like both of these picks from recent draft.

Patrick Romeri (OF, 21-years-old)

Stats (Low A): 85 PAs, .325/.388/.623, 9.4 BB%, 23.5 K%, .299 ISO, .385 BABIP, 182 wRC+

High A: 93 PAs, .193/.269/.241, 8.6 BB%, 34.4 K%, .048 ISO, .308 BABIP, 47 wRC+

As I said above, Peoria played a 12-11 game and Romeri had a 2 for 5 day with a double. I imagine 54 is not correct, but it’s hopefully in the vicinity. Romeri had something of a lost season, missing most of the year to injury. He had a 103 wRC+ in Low A last year. He repeated it this year, got himself promoted and has struggled mightily in High A so far.

Aaron McKeithan (C, 22-years-old)

Stats (Low A): 232 PAs, .284/.392/.407, 11.6 BB%, 19 K%, .124 ISO, .345 BABIP, 134 wRC+

High A: 83 PAs, .253/.325/.333, 8.4 BB%, 19.3 K%, .080 ISO, .310 BABIP, 89 wRC+

Regardless of whether or not McKeithan can adjust to High A, heck of a steal he was in the 16th round in 2021. He’s a catcher and seems to be able to handle the bat, so he’s worth paying attention to.

Osvaldo Tovalin (1B/3B, 22-years-old)

Stats (Low A): 241 PAs, .313/.378/.429, 7.1 BB%, 15.8 K%, .115 ISO, .364 BABIP, 132 wRC+

High A: 274 PAs, .211/.282/.337, 6.9 BB%, 16.8 K%, .126 ISO, .231 BABIP, 74 wRC+

Good luck to Tovalin for playing two of the worst possible positions to play in the Cardinals’ system. The 2021 10th rounder repeated Low A to start the year (94 wRC+ last season), earned himself a promotion and has struggled in High A, though it looks like mostly BABIP. Deserved or not is harder to say.

RJ Yeager (3B, 23-years-old)

Stats (Low A): 111 PAs, .289/.360/.443, 8.1 BB%, 17.1 K%, .155 ISO, .325 BABIP, 127 wRC+

Yeager appears to be an undrafted free agent signing this year out of Mississippi State. Old for his level, but those numbers are not fluky.

Alfredo Ruiz (LHP, 22-years-old)

Stats (Low A): 19 G, 35.2 IP, 32.2 K%, 6.8 BB%, 48.8 GB%, 3.53 ERA/3.80 FIP/2.97 xFIP

6th rounder from the 2021 draft - appears to be a reliever and is kind of old for the level, but he’s a lefty and he strikes out a lot of people so maybe worth monitoring.

Zane Mills (RHP, 21-years-old)

Stats (Low A): 7 GS, 41.1 IP, 20.3 K%, 4.1 BB%, 60.8 GB%, 3.48 ERA/3.42 FIP/3.04 xFIP

High A: 19 GS, 102.2 IP, 15.6 K%, 6.3 BB%, 51.7 GB%, 4.03 ERA/4.34 FIP/4.33 xFIP

So this is just the Cardinals’ type at this point. Low strikeout, high groundball pitchers. Mills was a 4th rounder in the 2021 draft, and seems to have no innings or pitch count restrictions because that is 144 innings.

Trent Baker (RHP, 23-years-old)

Stats (Low A): 25 GS, 123.1 IP, 26 K%, 9.1 BB%, 36.3 GB%, 3.14 ERA/3.46 FIP/3.90 xFIP

Very old for his level, 9th rounder from last year’s draft.

Jeremy Rivas (SS, 19-years-old)

Stats (Low A): 471 PAs, .245/.309/.301, 7.9 BB%, 22.1 K%, .056 ISO, .316 BABIP, 78 wRC+

Only mentioning because of his age. He didn’t really hit in the complex leagues last year either. But I imagine his defensive ability is pretty good for him to be in Low A so quickly at such a young age with a bat that... does not support being in Low A.

Elijah Cabell (OF, 23-years-old)

Stats (Low A): 216 PAs, .162/.343/.335, 18.5 BB%, 45.4 K%, .174 ISO, .302 BABIP, 104 wRC+

One of the crazier above average lines I’ve seen. He actually struck out more than he did last year, so I imagine there’s no future here despite it being an exciting pick at the time.

Austin Love (RHP, 23-years-old) - #12 prospect

Stats (High A): 25 GS, 125.2 IP, 26.8 K%, 9.2 BB%, 47.3 GB%, .366 BABIP, 5.73 ERA/4.04 FIP/3.78 xFIP

Love seems to do a good job missing bats... but when bats make contact, it’s usually a hit. No idea what to make of this. If he were in the majors, I’d say the BABIP would go down, but since it’s the minors, we really don’t know.

Inohan Paniagua (RHP, 22-years-old) - #20 prospect

Stats (Low A): 17 GS, 99 IP, 26.9 K%, 5.8 BB%, 43.7 GB%, 2.18 ERA/3.01 FIP/3.62 xFIP

High A: 8 GS, 38.2 IP, 23 K%, 9.7 BB%, 33 GB%, 4.42 ERA/5.60 FIP/4.77 xFIP

Two things: Paniagua is probably not as good of a prospect as his 2.18 ERA in Low A would make it seem. 3.62 xFIP is still good, but hardly attention-grabbing. But also, I feel like the promotion to High A was to give him a taste before next year. Finish in the league you’re overmatched in so you can come back stronger the next year. That kind of thing.

Nathaniel Heredia (LHP, 21-years-old) - #29 prospect

Stats (High A): 41 G, 74.1 IP, 25.1 K%, 15.8 BB%, 53.5 GB%, 4.12 ERA/4.58 FIP/4.85 xFIP

Well believe it or not these are vastly improved stats from last season. Last year he walked 29.2% of batters in 18.2 IP in High A. I’m not entirely sure why the aggressive promotions from the Cardinals as he’s just 21. Some swing and miss, lots of grounders, lots of walks.

LJ Jones (OF, 23-years-old)

Stats (High A): 435 PAs, .261/.328/.449, 7 BB%, 20.5 K%, .188 ISO, .305 BABIP, 114 wRC+

Jones has the misfortune of being in that ridiculous 2020 draft. He was drafted in the last round and struggled to an 84 wRC+ while his much younger teammates dominated at the level. But the Cardinals promoted him to High A despite the poor performance and he delivered. You’d in fact be mistaken for thinking he repeated Low A, because his stats look mysteriously like someone repeating a level. Just about every stat is improved from last season despite being at a harder level. I’ll update his stats when I can, but he went 3-4 with a double last night, so he has a better than 112 wRC+ for the season.

Noah Medlinger (3B, 21-years-old)

Stats (High A): 279 PAs, .246/.384/.321, 14.4 BB%, 14.8 K%, .076 ISO, .290 BABIP, 109 wRC+

It’s hard to see a major leaguer here, but I am rooting for him to find some, any punch in his bat. This is the profile of an older college draftee, but Medlinger is doing this in High A at just 21-years-old. Really pushing the limits of what a great approach can do here. Medlinger went 1-3 with two walks yesterday.

Tyler Reichenborn (OF, 24-years-old)

Stats (Low A): 181 PAs, .267/.374/.300, 11.6 BB%, 16 K%, .033 ISO, .325 BABIP, 104 wRC+

High A: 315 PAs, .250/.349/.377, 11.6 BB%, 21.6 K%, .127 ISO, .306 BABIP, 107 wRC+

Reichenborn was an undrafted free agent and not the kind who was undrafted because there were 20 rounds. No, he was signed back in 2019 when there were 40 rounds. He got a shot at High A last year, but struggled to an 82 wRC+ so he was actually demoted to Low A to start this season. Despite no power, he got promoted with an above average line, and showed a little more power in High A. Reichenborn went 3-5 yesterday with three singles.

Jacob Buchberger (3B, 24-years-old)

Stats (High A): 394 PAs, .257/.338/.383, 10.4 BB%, 20.8 K%, .126 ISO, .312 BABIP, 103 wRC+

Now Buchberger is an “undrafted” free agent, but was signed in 2020 and would probably have been drafted in the 20 round format.

Dionys Rodriguez (RHP, 21-years-old)

Stats (High A): 27 (25 GS), 121.2 IP, 22.2 K%, 9.9 BB%, 28.8 GB%, 4.59 ERA/4.53 FIP/5.04 xFIP

The ERA is correct, the FIP and xFIP are not. Since Rodriguez threw 2 walks to one strikeout and allowed a homer yesterday in his final start, those numbers are definitely getting worse. Still very young, but on the brink of AA, he might get a 40 man nod, being eligible for Rule 5 this offseason. But then again, he’s not really listed as a prospect by anyone so probably not.

Wilfredo Periera (RHP, 23-years-old)

Stats (High A): 27 G (18 GS), 118.1 IP, 26.5 K%, 6.4 BB%, 34.3 GB%, 5.02 ERA/4.13 FIP/3.96 xFIP

Periera was aggressively promoted to High A last year and pitched reasonably well, but the Cardinals had him repeat the level and his xFIP improved from 4.39 to 3.96, but he had a worse FIP and worse ERA (by a lot actually). Don’t know what to make of that.

And there folks, you have it. I probably missed some names, but there’s just so many possible names I could mention and I had to cut the line somewhere. Palm Beach are actually not done as they appear to have made the High A playoffs. (Originally said Peoria, because the two teams changing levels makes things extra confusing) Much like the MLB playoffs, these stats are not recorded in their season stat lines - which is actually weird for the minor leagues, seems like it’d be useful to know if a guy hit 3 HRs in the playoffs. But nevertheless, they still do have some games to play.