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A look at the rookie league performances

The rookie league regular season ended Tuesday, so here is how they did.

New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

On Tuesday, both the Dominican Summer League and the Florida Complex League Leagues ended their regular seasons. Neither Cardinals affiliate managed to make the playoffs, which start today, thus we have all the possible stats they’re going to compile this year. So while maybe neither league features players you should pay attention to, or at least not many, it’s usually fun to track the progress of minor leaguers from the start, and this is effectively the start to their professional career.

2021 International Signing Class

Every year, we get news of a relatively big signing class during the international signing period, and then we forget about them until they emerge as a prospect, which typically happens a few years after that initial signing class, but sometimes they are a prospect immediately (Malcolm Nunez comes to mind). So it might be kind of interesting to see how the recent batch of signings are doing.

I figure anybody who isn’t out of the rookie leagues four seasons into their professional career isn’t really worth mentioning, so I won’t start with that class. In this class, the Cardinals signed 15 players. Seven have already been released, that’s just the way it goes. One player has graduated past the rookie leagues, Leonardo Bernal, so he will not be mentioned in this update. But knowing Bernal was in this class alone elevates this class to pretty good already.

Adari Grant (19-years-old, 2B)

FCL Stats: 33 G, 124 PAs, 14.5 BB%, 13.7 K%, .237/.395/.320, 105 wRC+

Not real sure if the Cardinals took this as a positive or not. He actually made the FCL Cardinals last year, hit for an 85 wRC+, and struck out 33.1% of the time. So as you can see, that is a significant cut in his K rate. He also doubled his power. But his power is still .082 ISO.
Samil de La Rosa (19-years-old, 2B/3B)

FCL Stats: 18 G, 72 PAs, 13.9 BB%, 16.7 K%, .250/.403/.339, 110 wRC+

De La Rosa played in 46 games last year and just 18 this year, and near as I can tell, it wasn’t injury related. He just played that sporadically.

Anyelo Encarnacion (19-years-old, 2B/SS)

FCL Stats: 36 G, 14 BB%, 26.5 K%, .205/.333/.339, 14 BB%, 26.5 K%, 84 wRC+

It must be incredibly easy to walk in this league. Interestingly, this was his first year playing SS in the system.

Yancel Guerrero (19-years-old, 3B)

FCL Stats: 31 G, 112 PAs, 7.1 BB%, 33 K%, .214/.304/.306, 66 wRC+

Guerrero had a 140 wRC+ in the DSL last year, so this would be a disappointment.

Romtres Cabrera (19-years-old, OF)

FCL Stats: 32 G, 94 PAs, 16 BB%, 29.8 K%, .205/.372/.301, 94 wRC+

Cabrera also stole five bases without getting caught, which isn’t much but is more exciting than his batting line.

Jose Suarez (18-years-old, OF)

FCL Stats: 33 G, 131 PAs, 9.2 BB%, 32.1 K%, .200/.290/.339, 67 wRC+

For what it’s worth, he is the youngest person in this class, being 16-years-old when signed, so he’s probably a better prospect than the guys above him, despite worse stats.

Samuel Fabian (20-years-old, RP)

FCL Stats: 16 G, 18 IP, 24.8 K%, 22.9 BB%, 39.5 GB%, 10.00 ERA/7.17 FIP/6.37 xFIP

No, Fabian has not been released yet which was my first assumption when seeing his stats.

2022 International Signing Class

There are just 12 players from this class. One of them has graduated beyond this level so you won’t be seeing him. That’s Won Bin Cho.

Jonathan Mejia (18-years-old, SS)

FCL Stats: 30 G, 131 PAs, 18.3 BB%, 28.2 K%, .173/.331/.288, 75 wRC+

Well, considering Mejia had a brief showing in Low A, this is probably considered a significant disappointment. Obviously, you can’t scout the stat line, but given the prospect he was, you wouldn’t expect him to play badly in a rookie league. Hopefully, it’s just a blip.

Luis Rodriguez (18-years-old, C)

FCL Stats: 29 G, 107 PAs, 8.4 BB%, 29.9 K%, .221/.308/.316, 70 wRC+

The way I view the FCL, an 18-year-old having poor stats just means that they won’t make the Low A team at 19-years-old, which is no shame really. Plus Rodriguez is a catcher, so maybe his defense makes up for it.

Yordalin Pena (18-years-old, OF)

DSL Stats: 42 G, 176 PAs, 8.5 BB%, 19.3 K%, .263/.341, .410, 100 wRC+

Pena repeated the DSL and his stats barely improved overall (94 wRC+), but he showed more patience and struck out less, so I’m pretty sure the Cards think he earned a trip to Florida.

Arfeni Batista (18-years-old, SS)

I won’t list the stats, but Batista hit for a 93 wRC+ last year. This year he walked less (about halved his walk rate actually), struck out way more, but did add power. Not enough to overcome anything else as his wRC+ was 58 on the year.

Leonel Sequera (17-years-old, RHP)

FCL Stats: 5 GS, 17 IP, 23.1 K%, 1.5 BB%, 58.3 GB%, 2.65 ERA/2.36 FIP/3.04 xFIP

Unfortunately, it looks like he got injured and missed most of the season, but those are really good stats for a 17-year-old in the FCL. Unfortunately, I imagine his innings problem (he threw 36 innings last year) will limit him to the FCL for next year.

Nelfy Ynfante (18-years-old, RHP)

DSL Stats: 9 GS, 30 IP, 26.6 K%, 8.6 BB%, 40.8 GB%, 4.50 ERA/4.08 FIP/4.03 xFIP

Interestingly, he repeated DSL and in some respects, pitched better than last year - more strikeouts, less walks, and a similar GB%. But his ERA jumped by two and half runs (1.96 ERA last year). So that’s kind of odd.

Yordy Herrera (18-years-old, LHP)

DSL Stats: 17 G, 29.1 IP, 30.3 K%, 18.5 BB%, 33.3 GB%, 3.68 ERA/4.42 FIP/4.55 xFIP

Last year, he had an identical K rate, but walked 24% of batters. His GB% was much higher last year, but he had a significantly worse ERA, FIP, and xFIP last year, so clearly the focus on walking less made him a better pitcher. Another pitcher with horrific stats is Jovi Galvez (18-years-old, RHP)

Jose Suriel (18-years-old, RHP)

DSL Stats: 13 G, 15.2 IP, 32.9 K%, 29.3 BB%, 69.2 GB%, 5.74 ERA/5.89 FIP/6.19 xFIP

Sometimes, these DSL stats can look like video games

Diego Dominguez (17-years-old, RHP) and Junior Chirinos (18-years-old, RHP) have essentially missed 2023 to injury. Dominguez hasn’t thrown an inning this year and Chirinos threw just 4.2.



Hancel Almonte (17-years-old, OF)

DSL Stats: 38 G, 143 PAs, 9.8 BB%, 35 K%, .231/.345/.372, 95 wRC+

As with presumably every player I list, it’ll be hard to read too much into these stats. Given it’s close to league average with a pretty low slugging%, there’s just not that much power in this league.

Andru Arthur (17-years-old, OF)

DSL Stats: 28 G, 91 PAs, 9.9 BB%, 16.5 K%, .218/.330/.308, 80 wRC+

It feels like he should have a higher average with that few strikeouts, but his BABIP was just .270.

Luis Atocha (18-years-old, C)

DSL Stats: 22 G, 83 PAs, 15.7 BB%, 32.5 K%, .143/.337/.270, 80 wRC+

Atocha is actually old for this group, so I’m wondering if he’ll get released soon, although being a catcher might help.

Emiseal Carrera (17-years-old, RHP)

DSL Stats: 15 G, 21.2 IP, 20.2 K%, 11.7 BB%, 39.3 GB%, 2.08 ERA/4.02 FIP/4.98 xFIP

I decided to skip Jarol Baez (17-years-old, RHP), because his stats were not good - he walked and struck out 20% of batters each, and I expect most 17-years-old in this league aren’t going to have good stats, but in comparison, Carrera’s stats are pretty solid.

17-year-old Xavier Cruz hasn’t thrown an inning due to an apparently injury. I wonder if they knew about that ahead of time or not. 17-year-old Reiner Lopez has yet to pitch an inning, but it’s not clear if it’s injury related or development related.

Bernard Mack (17-year-old, LHP)

DSL Stats: 15 G, 17 IP, 29.9 K%, 14.3 BB%, 21.2 GB%, 4.76 ERA/4.33 FIP/4.56 xFIP

Again, not great, but a 17-year-old pitcher with good stats in the DSL is probably fairly rare.

Keiverson Ramirez (17-year-old, RHP)

DSL Stats: 11 G (8 GS), 39.2 IP, 17.6 K%, 4.7 BB%, 44.8 GB%, 4.31 ERA/4.84 FIP/4.24 xFIP

A pitcher is expected to do one of three things, or at least those are the things I look for in a prospect: strike out hitters, don’t walk them, and get groundballs. Ramirez does two of those things pretty well, but he didn’t have many strikeouts.

Fernando Roquez (17-year-old, 1B/OF)

DSL Stats: 39 G, 16.8 BB%, 26.5 K%, 155 PAs, .234/.387/.363, 111 wRC+

Relative to the league, Roquez and his 4 HRs and .129 ISO is better power than it sounds like. But I’d have to see him crush the league next year with his position right now.

Stiveen Rojas (16-years-old, LHP)

DSL Stats: 13 G (3 GS), 27 IP, 22 K%, 15 BB%, 39.3 GB%, 2.67 ERA/5.05 FIP/5.39 xFIP

Despite the fact that his ERA is a mirage, given his age, this is a pretty good debut actually. His stats aren’t good, but he’s holding his own as a 16-year-old.

And that’s pretty much it for the players who have some stats that could be of some relevance. Nobody seems to have emerged from this draft class as a legit prospect, and yes I’m including Reiner Lopez who still hasn’t pitched yet.

One other interesting name not mentioned who played in the DSL:

Yadiel Batista (19-years-old, LHP)

DSL Stats: 10 G (9 GS), 38.2 IP, 24.3 K%, 1.3 BB%, 38.3 GB%, 3.96 ERA/3.05 FIP/3.07 xFIP

Given his age, probably not going to be someone worth following, however I list him here for his 1.3% BB rate. He must not like walking hitters.

FCL Standouts

Felix Taveras (20-years-old, OF)

FCL Stats: 28 G, 112 PAs, 11.6 BB%, 19.6 K%, .302/.402/.427, 123 wRC+

Taveras was a part of the 2019 signing class, which obviously means he wasn’t able to debut until 2021, when he was already 18. He had a 147 wRC+ and saw time in the FCL last year, but didn’t get a lot of opportunities and wasn’t that good. He cut his K rate from 43% to 19.6% in one season.

Luis Pino (19-years-old, OF)

FCL Stats: 27 G, 100 PAs, 14 BB%, 31 K%, .205/.370/.346, 100 wRC+

Mostly highlighted because he was signed in 2021, but not a part of the big signing class, so I felt I had to mention him.

Miguel Martinez (20-years-old, RHP)

FCL Stats: 16 G, 18.2 IP, 31.2 K%, 6.5 BB%, 45.8 GB%, 4.82 ERA/3.90 FIP/3.63 xFIP

Entirely out of the bullpen and at 20-years-old, but he does the three things: strike out, limit walks, and get grounders.

Darlin Saladin (20-years-old, RHP)

FCL Stats; 12 G (11 GS), 47.1 IP, 23.9 K%, 10.7 BB%, 44.7 GB%, 2.85 ERA/4.58 FIP/4.26 xFIP

I wonder if he showed the Cardinals enough to get a long look at Low A, though his innings may be managed since his career high is 47 innings.

Randall Clemente (21-years-old, RHP)

FCL Stats: 19 G, 18.2 IP, 28.2 K%, 18.8 BB%, 57.1 GB%, 4.34 ERA/4.27 FIP/4.84 xFIP

Somewhat inexplicably named the 39th best prospect in the system by Fangraphs, Clemente is reliever-only and old for his level with mediocre stats.

Lastly, unfortunately, Alec Willis didn’t throw a single inning this year. I’m not entirely sure what the plan is for him next year, since he probably won’t be allowed to throw more than 60 innings.

So there’s the update on the rookie leagues, which just ended and mostly features people who might not be in the organization this time next year. And most of the interesting names presumably debuted in Low A late in the year. It’s not a great update in the sense that all of the names most of us know didn’t show us much excitement. Mejia struggled and neither Lopez nor Willis pitched at all. I’ll be back with an update on the Low A team when their season ends.