In a very close race, the readers have chosen the #7 prospect in the Cardinals system and his name is Cooper Hjerpe. I mentioned it in the comments, but I am not running a poll for the #8 prospect. It would be utterly pointless. The poll for the #6 prospect was hotly contested between three prospects, all within a few votes of each other. And the last vote was hotly contested between Hjerpe and Matthew Liberatore. Barely anyone else got votes in both cases. Liberatore would absolutely win the poll for the eighth best prospect and thus, there is no need to run a poll. Liberatore is your #8 prospect. Here’s the list so far:
- Jordan Walker
- Masyn Winn
- Tink Hence
- Gordon Graceffo
- Alec Burleson
- Ivan Herrera
- Cooper Hjerpe
- Matthew Liberatore
We’ve been beholden to the top 100 prospects thus far, and while Hjerpe isn’t on any top 100 prospect lists, it’s clear the voters think of him that way. But now that every player who could be on a top 100 has been selected, for the first time, I don’t even have a guess for who is going to win this vote. It could be just about anybody. The top vote getter for the #7 vote got 6%, but there were four players with between 4% and 6%. 80% of people voted for either Hjerpe or Liberatore which means that I have very little clue who should be the favorite.
Seeing as I skipped a vote, I am going to be adding two players again. One of them was fairly obvious seeing as I had already picked him, but then I had to alter my strategy when I realized the #6 vote didn’t actually end up tied. The second add was a bit tougher, but after much deliberation, he felt like the only guy I should pick. The first is Jimmy Crooks III, the recent 2022 draft pick. The other was starting pitching prospect Austin Love.
Here’s the obligatory mention of how the scouting grades work. Scouting is graded on a 20 to 80 scale, with 50 being average. 40 is one standard deviation below average, 60 is one above. It’s meant to grade the rarity of their skill in that category. You’ll see two numbers, the first of which is their scouting grade right now and the second number is their potential. It’s meant to show where they are now, and how close they are to reaching their potential.
I’ll use Jordan Walker as an example again, because it’s fun. His actual power is graded at 55 right now and his potential is 80. 55 is marginally above average power and 80 is Aaron Judge. You will not see any 80s in any category moving forward. You might not even see 70s.
Joshua Baez (OF) - 20-years-old
Acquired: 2nd Round of 2021 Draft, 54th overall
Stats (Low A): 79 PAs, .286/.418/.540, 13.9 BB%, 38 K%, .254 ISO, .484 BABIP, 170 wRC+
Scouting: 20/40 Hit, 25/60 Game Power, 60/70 Raw Power, 50/40 Speed, 40/50 Field
If you had to build your own high risk, high reward prospect, Baez could be the poster boy. At a very young age, he had immense problems making any sort of contact, but what he did not have a problem with was the type of contact he made. He hit the hell out of the ball. He’s a power prospect who is far enough away that we can hope the contact issues become less of a problem with time. And they might. He’s still going to be young for his level at Low A, where he’ll likely repeat - both given the contact issues last year and because it was only 79 plate appearances.
Leonardo Bernal (C) - 19-years-old
Acquired: Signed as an amateur free agent out of Panama in January 2021
Stats (Low A): 171 PAs, .256/.316/.455, 7 BB%, 18.7 K%, .199 ISO, .280 BABIP, 117 wRC+
Scouting: 20/50 Hit, 20/40 Game Power, 40/45 Raw Power, 40/40 Speed, 30/55 Fielding
Now that Herrera has been selected, I can safely compare Bernal to him. Bernal is actually a year ahead of him in progress, although he’s not dominating the lower levels like Herrera was. But Herrera played Low A at 19-years-old, and the stats you see above were done as an 18-year-old. This is where grading prospects gets tricky. How do you compare an 19-year-old who treats Low A like it’s the easiest thing in the world with an 18-year-old who is solidly above average at that same level? Well, that’s for you guys to decide. (And me, I also vote on these polls)
Jimmy Crooks III (C) - 21-years-old
Acquired: Drafted in the 4th round of the 2022 Draft, 127th overall
Stats (Low A): 96 PAs, .266/.396/.468, 12.5 BB%, 22.9 K%, .203 ISO, .333 BABIP, 149 wRC+
Scouting (TCN): 35/55 Hit, 40/60 Power, 35/50 Field, 55/55 Arm, 40/40 Speed
I was actually a little torn whether or not to add Crooks III or Bernal first, but while they were both on the same level last year, Bernal is two years younger. Pretty good tiebreaker if you ask me. Crooks III is a bat-first catcher who maybe won’t be adding much with his glove, but may not be a negative with the glove either. Time will tell.
Crooks III fits into the long line of players who are younger than their counterparts though. Most players drafted out of a four-year college are 21-years-old, and Crooks III was 20 when drafted. He turns 21 on July 19. Seems like it doesn’t matter, but the Cardinals consistently go for these players (Carlson was 17 when drafted when most high schoolers are 18 already)
Moises Gomez (OF) - 24-years-old
Acquired: Signed as minor league free agent in November 2021
Stats (AAA): 244 PAs, .266/.340/.541, 10.2 BB%, 34.4 K%, .275 ISO, .353 BABIP, 128 wRC+
Scouting: 30/35 Hit, 40/50 Game Power, 60/60 Raw Power, 40/40 Speed, 40/40 Defense
One thing I noticed about Gomez’s scouting - and I’ll stress I am not a scout - but it seems like his game power may be low? Maybe I’m crazy here, but hitting 39 homers at AA and AAA seems like it should suggest better than 40 game power. And in fact, I’d even say his potential game power should be higher than 50. Now I’m speaking purely on the power. He’s always going to have contact issues, but it seems like he has more power than the scouting suggests both right now and in the best version of him for the future.
Austin Love (SP) - 24-years-old
Acquired: Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2021 MLB Draft, 90th overall
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, 3.79 xFIP
Scouting: 50/50 Fastball, 55/55 Slider, 40/50 Change, 45/55 Command
In the hitting department, I’m always unsure how to treat unusually high or relatively low BABIPs in the minors. I usually don’t see a comparable situation with pitching. But in Austin Love’s case, his advanced stats are way better than his ERA. That’s curious. An MLB pitcher is rather unlikely to be dominant enough to post good K/BB numbers and a good GB% while also allowing hits at an absurd pace, but it certainly feels more likely to happen in the minors. But it could also just be bad luck. He’s a very interesting prospect if you completely believe in the advanced stats, not a prospect in the slightest if you believe completely in the ERA. He’s probably somewhere in the middle.
Brycen Mautz (SP) - 21-years-old
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2022 MLB Draft, 59th overall
Stats (College): 15 GS, 90.2 IP, 129 Ks, 22 BBs, .256 BAA, 3.87 ERA
Scouting (TCN): 45/55 Fastball, 50/60 Slider, 35/50 Change, 55/60 Command
Mautz is kind of similar to Hjerpe, without the absolute love of his advanced college stats. Well, I’m sure there is love for them, just not on the same level. He’s a 6’4 lefty with an unorthodox delivery who also hasn’t pitched a professional inning yet. Randy Flores clearly saw some hidden value in the unorthodox delivery, because he went to that well for his first two picks.
Michael McGreevy (SP) - 22-years-old
Acquired: 1st round of the 2021 MLB Draft, 18th overall
Stats (AA): 20 GS, 99 IP, 18.4 K%, 6.3 BB%, 48.7 GB%, .319 BABIP, 4.64 ERA/4.85 FIP/4.49 xFIP
Scouting: 40/45 Fastball, 50/55 Slider, 45/45 Curveball, 30/50 Change, 45/55 Command
I think the Cardinals have no choice but to put McGreevy back in AA and I don’t think it has anything to do with what they think about him. It might be best for him to repeat AA anyway, I just don’t see how he can start the year in AAA. It’s possible Andre Pallante or Dakota Hudson starts in AAA (and I struggle to see how one of them wouldn’t, as weird as that seems), plus Connor Thomas, plus Gordon Graceffo, plus Liberatore. There’s just not really room for him. If he does in fact repeat, I hope we see his stats improve so that he can show he’s adjusted to the level.
Jonathan Mejia (SS) - 18-years-old
Acquired: Signed as amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in January 2022
Stats (DSL): 208 PAs, .267/.418/.479, 15.9 BB%, 23.1 K%, .212 ISO, .348 BABIP, 145 wRC+
Scouting: 25/60 Hit, 20/45 Game Power, 30/45 Raw Power, 55/55 Speed, 40/55 Fielding
Assuming Mejia plays the majority of the season in Low A, and I don’t know that that’s true, but assuming that, it seems his prospect status could go one of two ways. He holds his own in Low A, or maybe even does better than that, and becomes a fringe top 100 prospect (if he does well enough, he’s a top 100 prospect really). Or he struggles, like most 18-years-olds would, and kind of stays at the same level. From a curiosity level, I want to see him play in Low A, but whether the Cardinals agree with me or not, I’m not sure. He likely isn’t going to be playing the whole season there, but getting called up sometime midseason, since he only played 45 games last year. Kind of tough ask to play over double the games played and join a significantly harder level at the same time.
Inohan Panigua (SP) - 23-years-old
Acquired: Signed out of the Dominican Republic in December 2017
Stats (Low A): 99 IP, 26.9% K%, 5.8 BB%, 43.7 GB%, .272 BABIP, 2.18 ERA/3.01 FIP/3.62 xFIP
Scouting: 35/40 Fastball, 55/60 Curveball, 40/50 Change, 35/60 Command
I chose to share Panigua’s Low A stats for two reasons, even though I usually defer to showing a player’s stats at his higher level. Because he pitched more of the season in Low A by a lot and also because it seems likely he was tired by the time he pitched in High A. I don’t know if we can blame that on his not very impressive performance, but he threw 46.1 IP in 2021 and by the time he pitched in High A, he had already thrown 99 innings. He threw an additional 38.2 IP in High A. Kind of odd actually, as I would have thought they’d try to manage his innings a bit more. That’s a huge leap.
Connor Thomas (SP) - 25-years-old
Acquired: 5th round of 2019 MLB Draft, 155th overall
Stats (AAA): 25 GS, 135 IP, 17.9 K%, 6.5 BB%, 51 GB%, 5.47 ERA/4.53 FIP/4.29 xFIP
Scouting (TCN): 40/45 Fastball, 50/55 Change, 55/60 Slider, 50/55 Cutter, 55/60 Command
There’s really only so many different ways I can say the same thing. Thomas, to date, has not been considered much of a prospect (by most I should add), but hypothetically speaking, a cutter could change things. It certainly changed things in the AFL where he dominated a hitter friendly league. But for now, the AFL is really all we have to go on, which makes him a tough person to place on a list such as this. So good luck to you all.
I didn’t mention in any individual profile, but the scouting where TCN is specified refers to The Cardinal Nation and were provided by VEB’s own Blake Newberry.
Who is the Cardinals #9 prospect?
This poll is closed
Joshua Baez, OF
Leonardo Bernal, C
Jimmy Crooks III, C
Moises Gomez, OF
Austin Love, SP
Byrcen Mautz, SP
Michael McGreevy, SP
Jonathan Mejia, SS
Inohan Panigua, SP
Connor Thomas, SP