With the 2023 draft finished, we are at least a month away from learning anything about anyone drafted - and in the case of most pitchers, 10 months away (due to being shut down for the rest of this year). But we are also a year away from the 2022 draft, so it might be fun to take stock of how last year’s draftees are doing. I’ll just get right to it.
1st round, 22nd pick
Cooper Hjerpe, LHP (22-years-old)
Stats (High A): 8 GS, 39.1 IP, 29.9 K%, 14 BB%, 43.5 GB%, .213 BABIP, 3.66 ERA/5.68 FIP/4.03 xFIP
In the context of at least some Cardinals’ fans’ expectations of Hjerpe, this season is a clear disappointment. But also those expectations were....absurd. Sorry, thinking a guy - who is not a top 5 pick mind you - is going to be able to jump straight to AA and hold his own is wildly optimistic. I’m not saying there wasn’t a situation where something like that was possible, but thinking it will happen is setting yourself up for disappointment.
In the context of a 22nd round pick, I think he’s playing to expectations. With one exception. He’s currently injured. He pitched his last game on May 23rd. Remember most college draftees start the year in Low A, so High A is somewhat aggressive. And he struggled out the gate. But his last four starts look a little bit more like what people thought he was. In four starts, he threw 23.1 IP and had a 1.54 ERA. His K rate was actually nearly identical to his season rate, but his walk rate was a more manageable 10.3% and he only allowed two of his eight homers in that stretch.
What I’m saying is, so long as he can come back from the injury at some point, and minor league injury news is frustratingly hard to find, he could still be on track to start in AA next year.
2nd round, 59th pick
Brycen Mautz, LHP (21-years-old)
Stats (Low A): 15 GS, 68.1 IP, 24.4 K%, 10.9 BB%, 53.3 GB%, .330 BABIP, 4.08 ERA/3.66 FIP/4.08 xFIP
Mautz was actually young for a college draftee, so he’s still just 21-years-old. Mautz already has a narrative behind his season. He dominated his first few starts, striking out 19 batters to just three walks in 17 innings. Having sufficiently proven he could dominate Low A without a changeup, there was reportedly a stronger emphasis on using his change to improve it which resulted in a few very ugly games. He allowed 8 earned runs in 6.1 IP in his next two starts and he improved over the three starts after that, but his K/BB numbers were really not impressive (10 Ks to 7 BBs in 16 innings).
But if you look at his output since May 20th, aside from a hiccup against the Mets Low A team where he faced just 7 batters for some reason, allowing three hits, a walk (and no Ks), and three runs, he looks like a recently drafted 2nd rounder out of college. His ERA of 4.62 is nothing to write home about, but he has struck out 25.9% of batters while walking 11.4%. Basically his season stats. How much his change helped in those numbers I couldn’t tell you unfortunately.
3rd Round, 97th pick
Pete Hansen, LHP (22-years-old)
Stats (Low A): 15 GS, 71.1 IP, 26.4 K%, 8.4 BB%, 45.2 GB%, .291 BABIP, 3.41 ERA/4.37 FIP/3.73 xFIP
Hansen is solid but unexciting. He has a home run problem, though he’s the first guy drafted so far who doesn’t seem to have a significant issue with walks. Hjerpe is at a higher level and Mautz is younger, so a respectable showing is not necessarily what you hope for with a 22-year-old draftee in Low A. (Okay so he also has a game against the Mets’ Low A team where he pitched one inning - what the hell happened that series? - he only faced four batters.)
4th round, 127th pick
Jimmy Crooks III, C (21-years-old)
Stats (High A): 68 G, 283 PAs, .261/.355/.416, 12 BB%, 22.3 K%, .155 ISO, .328 BABIP, 121 wRC+
The level of excitement over this pretty good offensive season is determined by whatever his progress is defensively. And I’m not sure we’ll ever really know until we see him in the majors. But he has essentially duplicated his debut in Low A, but with less power. Same walk rate, same K rate, same BABIP. Just for being a catcher, being in High A, and being just 21, I have to think he’s a legit prospect at this point.
5th round, 157th pick
Victor Scott II, OF (22-years-old)
Stats (High A): 66 G, 308 PAs, .282/.365/.398, 9.1 BB%, 16.9 K%, .333 BABIP .117 ISO, 120 wRC+
(AA): 9 G, 40 PAs, .278/.333/.389, 7.5 BB%, 20 K%, .333 BABIP, .111 ISO, 93 wRC+
Also (combined): 52 SBs, 7 CS
I know there are skeptics on Scott’s hit tool, but so far, it hasn’t really been a problem. It’s only been nine games, but it’s pretty encouraging he doesn’t seem overmatched in AA. He’s already hit a homer! And yet, I don’t even know that he needs to be that good with the bat. He’s clearly fast and supposedly an elite defender in CF. I say supposedly because you know how minor league scouting defense goes. But if the scouting is true, the bar for what his bat needs to be in order for him to be an MLB starter at CF is not that high. And he seems perfectly capable of reaching that bar as of this writing.
6th round, 187th pick
Max Rajcic, RHP (21-years-old)
Stats (Low A): 12 GS, 62 IP, 28.6 K%, 3.8 BB%, 36.2 GB%, .242 BABIP, 1.89 ERA/3.00 FIP/3.41 xFIP
Stats (High A): 2 Gs, 11.2 IP, 22.7 K%, 9.1 BB%, 41.4 GB%, .276 BABIP, 3.09 ERA/3.04 FIP/3.86 xFIP
You know I bet if you asked the Cardinals’ front office - maybe even Randy Flores - I would guess they wouldn’t have expected Rajcic to already be in High A. He’s another young when drafted pick, and the assumption was probably that he’d spend the whole year in Low A. But 68 strikeouts to 9 walks is very hard to ignore. Two pretty decent starts in High A is also an encouraging start.
7th round, 217th pick
Alex Iadisernia, OF (22-years-old)
Stats (Low A): 52 G, 237 PAs, .246/.347/.468, 11.8 BB%, 17.7 K%, .222 ISO, .268 BABIP, 121 wRC+
Stats (High A): 12 G, 57 PAs, .204/.246/.426, 1.8 BB%, 24.6 K%, .222 ISO, .216 BABIP, 87 wRC+
This is the first guy drafted that I just did not know existed. I don’t remember this name at all. And that last name is fairly unique! Not sure there’s much to read into those High A stats, but a lot of power for Alex. He’s hit 12 combined homers in his 64 games played. While his K rate is elevated in High A though not crazy high, he doesn’t seem to have the strikeout problems that accompany homers. He does have a contact problem. He did have a .396 BABIP last season in 77 PAs with zero power, and now he has a ton of power with very low BABIPs at both levels.
Sort of interesting for a 7th round pick though.
8th round, 247th pick
Cade Winquest, RHP (23-years-old)
Stats (Low A): 15 G (10 GS), 53 IP, 21.4 K%, 9.4 BB%, 56.4 GB%, .288 BABIP, 5.26 ERA/4.37 FIP/4.25 xFIP
Bit of a confusing season for Winquest. Would love to know the behind-the-scenes on it. He was gradually built up, facing more and more batters before starting. He faced six, then 9, then 13, then 15, and he settled in that range and even moved to starting before he was trusted with more. I was going to blame his declining numbers on starting, but he actually had two good starts in his first two starts, though only faced 16 and 17 batters. His next two starts, 21 and 18 batters faced, weren’t terrible but weren’t good. He then had zero strikeouts in his next two starts, where he faced a combined 46 batters.
And then he’s another pitcher he faced two batters against the Mets (this one I assume is injury due to three batter rule, but this is a bizarre trend at this point), threw one very bad inning 9 days later (4 ER), and he finally had a good start with 20+ batters faced in his most recent outing (6 IP, 5 Ks, 2 BB, 1 ER). This is a lot of words for someone I’m not excited about because he’s 23 and not dominating a very low level.
9th Round, 277th pick
Joseph King, RHP (22-years-old)
Stats (Low A): 19 G (4 GS), 52 IP, 22.6 K%, 6.2 BB%, 44.6 GB%, .338 BABIP, 5.71 ERA/4.88 FIP/3.81 xFIP
Stats (High A): 2 G, 5.2 IP, 15.4 K%, 11.5 BB%, 52.6 GB%, .278 BABIP, 4.76 ERA/5.94 FIP/4.76 xFIP
I.. don’t really know why he got promoted to High A. He started the year in the rotation, made four not very good starts, and was moved to the pen. He still usually faced 10+ batters in the pen, but his stats still weren’t really that great doing that. He wasn’t really good recently either - he allowed 12 earned runs from June 15th to June 25th in a three-appearance span. He only had two more appearances, with 3 ER combined in 5 IP.
Sometimes, an aggressive promotion is encouraging... but not if the guy’s stats aren’t very good. That just makes me think he’s roster filler.
10th round, 307th pick
Tanner Jacobsen, RHP (23-years-old)
Stats: 23 G, 37.2 IP, 31.5 K%, 13 BB%, 36 GB%, .310 BABIP, 4.06 ERA/3.20 FIP/3.87 xFIP
Perhaps a wrong assumption, but I really wouldn’t think one of the issues an old for his level college-drafted pitcher would have is walks. And yet this is multiple pitchers in this draft. The strikeout rate is certainly intriguing but again this is a 23-year-old in Low A. He really shouldn’t have that much issue finding the strike zone.
11th round pick, 337th pick
Nathan Church, OF (22-years-old)
Stats (High A): 79 G, 348 PAs, .293/.374/.378, 9.5 BB%, 10.3 K%, .085 ISO, .326 BABIP, 119 wRC+
Well here’s a win for scouting. Because Church had an absolutely awful debut season last year in Low A. He had two extra base hits in 111 PAs. And thanks to an also low BABIP, he had a 57 wRC+. And... the Cardinals sent him to High A. Good call Cardinals. It would be nice if he had any power and he should probably give up on stealing (14 stolen bases to 11 caught stealing), but a very low strikeout guy who still walks is a fun prospect to follow.
12th round pick, 367th pick
Michael Curiale, 3B (22-years-old)
Stats (Low A): 73 G, 305 PAs, .278/.407/.407, 12.8 BB%, 25.6 K%, .129 ISO, .398 BABIP, 132 wRC+
I always take it as a bit of a warning sign when the Cardinals don’t promote players like Curiale. They are fairly aggressive in promoting the prospects they believe in, and I sort of read between the lines when they are slow in promoting guys. Granted, there are warning signs in his numbers: that sky high BABIP and very little power. But he has nearly 400 PAs in Low A now of being a clearly above average hitter and... still in Low A. It’s appropriate this follows Church, who was very aggressively promoted.
13th round, 397th pick
Chandler Arnold, RHP (23-years-old)
Stats (Low A): 15 G, 18 IP, 23.7 K%, 21.5 BB%, 41.7 GB%, .396 BABIP, 6.50 ERA/5.67 FIP/6.15 xFIP
I’ll say it’s pretty good drafting if it takes until the 13th round to get to a guy who you can’t really say anything positive about. Those are some ugly stats for a very old for his level guy.
14th round, 427th pick
DJ Carpenter, RHP (23-years-old)
Yeah he hasn’t thrown an inning this season. He did strike out 3 of the 6 batters he faced in Low A last season.
15th round, 457th pick
Matt Hickey, RHP (25-years-old)
Stats (High A): 21 G, 35.1 IP, 18 K%, 6 BB%, 41.5 GB%, .302 BABIP, 3.82 ERA/3.95 FIP/4.56 xFIP
Hickey was drafted primarily on the basis of his use of a variety of arm angles to confuse batters. Would have been pretty fun if we wouldn’t know if he would throw overhand or sidearm. He sometimes switched in the middle of the AB. But High A hitters don’t have a ton of trouble against him and he’s already 25.
19th round, 577th pick
Chris Rotondo, OF (24-years-old)
Stats (Low A): 71 G, 308 PAs, .233/.381/.371, 15.3 BB%, 23.4 K%, .139 ISO, .314 BABIP, 116 wRC_
I’m skipping most of the back of the 20s because really bad stats/not signed. Great example of my point above. Rotondo had a 127 wRC+ in 24 games played in Low A last season and here’s another 308 PAs of proving he can handle Low A, and he is just not getting the call to High A.
Chris Roycraft is a 26-year-old reliever who started the year in High A, struck out 34.9% of batters and got promoted to AA. He... was not good in AA. He struck out 13.9%, walked the same percentage, and had an 8.55 ERA. However, due to I imagine needing an arm there, he’s in AAA at the moment.
RJ Yeager, 1B (24-years-old)
Stats (Low A): 66 G, 283 PAs, .296/.392/.471, 11.7 BB%, 12.7 K%, .175 ISO, .323 BABIP, 138 wRC+
Stats (High A): 12 G, 52 PAs, .318/.404/.591, 9.6 BB%, 13.5 K%, .273 ISO, .294 BABIP, 177 wRC+
Boy are the odds against this guy, but if he can remotely keep up what he’s doing at High A right now, he’ll see AA before the end of the year.
Logan Sawyer, RHP (30-years-old)
Stats (AA): 27 G, 32.1 IP, 26.7 K%, 10 BB%, 39.1 GB%, .422 BABIP, 6.40 ERA/4.00 FIP/4.24 xFIP
The real question is he just insanely unlucky or is there some reason his BABIP is elevated. He’s almost certainly unlucky in some regard - a .422 BABIP is ridiculous - but does he “deserve” a .320 BABIP or a .350 BABIP or even a .300 BABIP. Remains to be seen.