Back to basics. Last time, I had to do a runoff poll between Leonardo Bernal and Joshua Baez to determine the #11 prospect. Joshua Baez won the vote and it wasn’t that close, all things considered. Baez had 59% of the vote to Bernal’s 41%. So that surprised me a little bit. This puts the current prospect rankings as voted by the readers of VEB at:
- Jordan Walker
- Masyn Winn
- Tink Hence
- Gordon Graceffo
- Alec Burleson
- Ivan Herrera
- Cooper Hjerpe
- Matthew Liberatore
- Michael McGreevy
- Moises Gomez
- Joshua Baez
Appropriate enough given the last poll was between two teenagers, but I’m going to have to replace a teenager with another one. This time, I’ll be adding starting pitching prospect Alec Willis. Although Willis does turn 20-years-old later this month, so he is both older and farther away than both Baez and Bernal. But he was the clear choice to add given the voting trends of the high potential, young guys.
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.
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
Well, Bernal lost the head-to-head voting, and given he only got 41% in that, I do feel justified in not assuming he would win this vote. But he very well might. He is very young, and yet will most likely be in High A this year. You can’t say that about very many 19-year-olds and you could say that about even less catchers. There’s a sample size issue of sorts with his numbers as he simply didn’t appear in many games (though Baez didn’t either really). But if he manages to repeat his numbers in High A, I suspect he will jump up these rankings.
Won-Bin Cho (OF) - 19-years-old
Acquired: Signed as an amateur free agent out of South Korea in January 2022
Stats (Complex): 100 PAs, .211/.400/.316, 20 BB%, 27 K%, .105 ISO, .313 BABIP, 118 wRC+
Scouting: 20/40 Hit, 25/55 Game Power, 45/60 Raw Power, 40/40 Speed, 35/50 Fielding
Speaking of small samples, Cho doesn’t have a large one either. He showed some good patience with a very high walk rate, though of course walking 20% of the time in the complex leagues doesn’t mean the same thing as in higher levels. Still a good start. Just an overall solid line, and I hope the Cardinals feel he is ready for Low A.
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
With some of these prospects, who didn’t really play all that much - and in the case of Crooks III, it’s because he was drafted in 2022 - I’ll be excited what they can do with a larger body of work. Because it’s just kind of hard for me to draw too many conclusions from 100-200 PAs. That said, Crooks III most likely did enough to earn a promotion to High A, because his stats suggest the league was not particularly difficult for him. And remember, Low A is Palm Beach now, so a .203 ISO is not nothing. Although again, not that many plate appearances.
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
It’ll be interesting to see how Love reacts to Springfield, which is a very difficult place for a pitcher to pitch. It’ll go a long way towards determining his status as a prospect. He’s not particularly young for the level, and he was pretty hittable in High A. That said, his advanced stats were significantly better than his results and hopefully that’s more indicative of how he’ll pitch than his ERA.
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
Since this is the first player with the TCN after scouting, I must share that it’s fellow writer Blake Newberry’s scouting of Mautz from The Cardinal Nation website. You can see that he’s very close to being an MLB reliever with two pitches near MLB ready, but with his command and potential for a third average pitch, it’s also easy to see starting pitcher in his future. And he’ll likely remain a starter, barring hiccups, for most of his minor league career.
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
Mejia is a very exciting prospect that could become something REALLY exciting if he ends up performing at the Low A level. He wouldn’t even need to be great there. Just needs to show he belongs. Because he’s 18-years-old. And for that reason, he probably isn’t beginning the season in Low A, and if he does, the Cardinals really believe in him. But he might get a midseason call, just so that he doesn’t jump from 45 games played to full season ball. That’s a big ask.
Freddy Pacheco (RP) - 25-years-old
Acquired: Signed out of Venezuela in November 2017
Stats (AAA): 33.2 IP, 32.6 K%, 9.1 BB%, 36.6 GB%, .205 BABIP, 2.41 ERA/2.97 FIP/3.92 xFIP
Scouting: 70/70 Fastball, 55/60 Slider, 30/40 Command
If the Cardinals were a little bit more desperate for pitching, specifically in the bullpen, I wonder if Pacheco would have any shot at making the team. Injuries may leave a hole for him by the end of spring, but he’s just behind a few too many locks to make the MLB bullpen. And that doesn’t even include Andre Pallante or Dakota Hudson for me, so he has just too big a hurdle. That said, it would not be hard to imagine a call-up in the 1st half of the season if he can limit his walks and continue striking out a third of hitters.
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
Two things I find really strange about Panigua as a prospect. The first is that they had him repeat Low A. The Cardinals are usually pretty aggressive with their prospects and Panigua was kept at Low A after a solid season. That said, he also pitched most of 2021 in the bullpen. The other strange thing was that they increased his workload A LOT, and they’re usually careful about that. He went from 46.1 IP to 137.2 IP. And to my knowledge, he didn’t play winter ball either.
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
Mediocre stats in AAA the last two years, discovers cutter, dominates AFL. I feel like I’ve written Thomas’s profile 200 times at this point. I have nothing new to say!
Alec Willis (SP) - 20-years-old
Acquired: 7th round of 2021 MLB Draft, 211th overall
Stats (Complex): 6 G, 11.1 IP, 34.8 K%, 4.3 BB%, 42.9 GB%, 1.59 ERA/2.94 FIP/2.28 xFIP
Scouting: 40/50 Fastball, 45/55 Curve, 30/50 Change, 20/50 Command
For what it’s worth, Willis hadn’t yet pitched in 2022 when his command scouting was shared. Now, maybe he would keep the same 20 for current command I don’t know. But a 4.3% BB rate while still striking out a bunch is the kind of thing that you’d improve command scouting for. Anyway, small samples are the name of the game in this post and none seem smaller than his. I know he had injury issues limit him to one inning last season, and they were extra careful with him this season. Whether or not he was impressive enough for the Cards to try him in Low A? We shall see.
Who is the #12 prospect?
This poll is closed
Leonardo Bernal, C
Won-Bin Cho, OF
Jimmy Crooks III, C
Austin Love, SP
Brycen Mautz, SP
Jonathan Mejia, SS
Freddy Pacheco, RP
Inohan Panigua, SP
Connor Thomas, SP
Alec Willis, SP