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A look at the A ball performances from Cardinals’ prospects

With the Palm Beach season over, and the Peoria season nearly over, now’s the time to see how the players fared at those levels.

MILB: AUG 25 Florida State League - Cardinals at Tarpons Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The end of the regular season is approaching, which means the end of the minor league season is coming upon us. And in the case of the Low A Palm Beach Cardinals, it has already come. They made the playoffs and lost back-to-back devastating games to get knocked out. In Game 1, they had a 1-0 lead in the 8th, gave up a run, took back the lead in the 9th, gave up a run, and then lost in the 10th 3-2. Similar thing in Game 2. Had a 5-4 lead in the 8th, gave it up, but this time, neither team scored again until the 11th when the Jupiter Hammerheads scored 2 runs in the 11th and the one run in the bottom of the inning wasn’t enough.

Joshua Baez (#11 prospect by VEB)

Stats (Low A): 91 G, 358 PAs, .218/.341/.383, 12.6 BB%, 34.1 K%, .164 ISO, .337 BABIP, 101 wRC+

On the bright side, that’s a technically above average hitting line. On the downside, that strikeout rate is veeeery high and for a guy who I wouldn’t call particularly young for the level. I will be somewhat curious if the Cardinals push him to High A or keep him in Low A. He is two years removed from being eligible for the 40 man, which he isn’t in danger of being selected from right now, but sometimes that makes teams more aggressive.

Leonardo Bernal (#12 prospect by VEB)

Stats (Low A): 78 G, 323 PAs, .265/.381/.362, 15.2 BB%, 17 K%, .097 ISO, .319 BABIP, 111 wRC+

I am surprised he never made it to High A. Though I will point out that he did nearly double his plate appearances from last year, which I think was probably a factor. Also his power never really showed up. He had a .199 ISO and 7 homers in 171 PAs last year, but this year just a .097 ISO and 3 homers. But he also more than doubled his walk rate and cut his K rate. Last year his BB rate was 7%. It’s also somewhat easy forget, but nobody really has power in Palm Beach so I don’t think this is too worrisome.

Won-Bin Cho (#15 prospect by VEB)

Stats (Low A): 105 G, 452 PAs, .270/.376/.389, 14.2 BB%, 21.7 K%, .119 ISO, .341 BABIP, 114 wRC+

Well score one for the VEB voters on this one. Cho was not in my top 20. He probably would be now. Just all-around solid season, even if you want to get technical, I’d say nothing specifically stands out (except for the BB rate), like even defensively the Cardinals mostly put him in the corners. (80 games to 23 in CF)

Brycen Mautz (#17 prospect by VEB)

Stats (Low A): 23 G, 104 IP, 25.2 K%, 9.9 BB%, 49.5 GB%, 3.98 ERA/3.65 FIP/4.08 xFIP

Unlike most of the 2022 draftees, Mautz played in his age 21 season, so I don’t even have a complaint about being solid but old for his level. Granted, he barely qualifies for being his age 21 season (birthday is in the middle of July), but nonetheless pitching a solid season at 21 in Low A and pitching a solid season at 22 is a huge difference.

Chase Davis (1st round ‘23 draft, 21-years-old, OF)

Stats (Low A): 34 G, 131 PAs, .212/.366/.269, 19.1 BB%, 26 K%, .058 ISO, .310 BABIP, 91 wRC+

I think it’s fair to say he had a bit more trouble in Low A than expected. Even for the Florida State League, that is an abysmal slugging percentage. He managed to have enough plate discipline to approach average, but you do hope better from the first round pick. Granted, not a large sample here.

Zach Levenson (5th round ‘23 draft, 21-years-old, OF)

Stats (Low A): 34 G, 139 PAs, .268/.331/.480, 8.6 BB%, 23 K%, .211 ISO, .307 BABIP, 114 wRC+

Levenson played mostly in LF and again just a solid performance. One thing to note is Levenson’s 42 FB%, which obviously helped him hit 6 homers. His HR/FB% of 15.4% wasn’t even that high. I’m kind of surprised his wRC+ isn’t higher considering how little power there is in the FSL, but his OBP is just barely above average.

Grayson Tarlow (19th round ‘23 draft, 21-years-old, C)

Stats (Low A): 20 G, 59 PAs, .200/.390/.333, 18.6 BB%, 15.3 K%, .133 ISO, .229 BABIP, 113 wRC+

Only the type of line you could produce in a 59 plate appearance sample. Good plate approach clearly, a catcher, and a little bit of pop.

Kade Kretzschmar (23-years-old, OF)

Stats (Low A): 26 G, 92 PAs, .333/.457/.453, 14.1 BB%, 17.4 K%, .120 ISO, .414 BABIP, 156 wRC+

Who? Yeah apparently this guy has the best hitting line of all Palm Beach hitters, with the caveat that it came in just 92 PAs. He got a taste of High A, all of 3 games, where he struck out 6 times in 10 tries. Kretzschmar was undrafted and signed as a free agent. As you can see, he is rather old for his level. His stats are the reason he’s listed.

William Sullivan (22-years-old, 1B)

Stats (Low A): 32 G, 119 PAs, .308/.395/.433, 12.6 BB%, 20.2 K%, 125 ISO, .392 BABIP, 128 wRC+

Another older, undrafted free agent who has taken advantage of getting signed.

Michael Curialle (22-years-old, 3B)

Stats (Low A): 110 G, 457 PAs, .282/.392/.397, 11.2 BB%, 23.6 K%, .116 ISO, .382 BABIP, 122 wRC+

The 12th round pick of the 2022 draft, Curialle interestingly was never promoted. Which would normally give me pause, but he also played a lot.

Sammy Hernandez (19-years-old, C)

Stats (Low A): 10 G, 40 PAs, .212/.350/.303, 17.5 BB%, 20 K%, .091 ISO, .250 BABIP, 91 wRC+

Acquired from the Jays for Genesis Cabrera, Hernandez was initially sent back to the complex league, but he blistered the ball to the tune of 2 homers and a triple in 6 games, so he got sent to Low A. While he doesn’t have the greatest line, it seems he was less overmatched than with Toronto (when he had a 50 wRC+ and terrible K/BB numbers)

Lizandro Espinoza (20-years-old, SS)

Stats (Low A): 107 G, 413 PAs, .184/.272/.290, 9.4 BB%, 25.7 K%, .106 ISO, .236 BABIP, 58 wRC+

I would not normally update such bad lines, but a couple notable things: he got 413 PAs while doing that at a young age while playing SS. Fangraphs, which rated him the 27th best prospect, gives him a future defensive grade of 60. So we can surmise that the Cardinals are high on his defense.

Jose Cordoba (20-years-old, OF)

Stats (Low A): 11 G, 44 PAs, .270/.372/.378, 9.1 BB%, 15.9 K%, .108 ISO, .333 BABIP, 106 wRC+

I mention Cordoba because he had a 145 wRC+ in the complex leagues and ended the year in Low A. Not seen in his stats is that Cordoba went 3-4 with a double in the playoffs.

Pete Hansen (3rd round pick ‘23 draft, 22, LHP)

Stats (Low A): 23 G, 112.2 IP, 27.1 K%, 8.4 BB%, 44.9 GB%, 3.12 ERA/3.87 FIP/3.66 xFIP

Good strikeout stuff, pretty good performance, but he is old for the level, so he should be doing this.

Tanner Jacobsen (10th round pick ‘23 draft, 23, RHP)

Stats (Low A): 35 G, 53.2 IP, 30.8 K%, 11.7 BB%, 36.9 GB%, 4.19 ERA/3.80 FIP/3.79 xFIP

Probably not worth pointing out, but he did make huge improvements from last year. He had 7 walks last year when he faced just 22 batters. Nearly a third of batters. Even though he’s old for the level, he struck out more batters and walked way less than last season.

Cade Winquest (8th round pick ‘23 draft, 23, RHP)

Stats (Low A): 24 G (13 GS), 77.2 IP, 24.2 K%, 10.4 BB%, 56.9 GB%, 4.87 ERA/4.31 FIP/4.09 xFIP

I know some of you are a fan of this guy, I don’t really get it, but here’s his stats for those who believe in him.

Hansel Rincon (21-years-old, RHP)

Stats (Low A): 23 GS, 132.2 IP, 18.2 K%, 3.8 BB%, 42.7 GB%, 3.26 ERA/4.17 FIP/4.31 xFIP

Already Rule 5 eligible this offseason he’s been in the system so long. Saw a huuuuuge jump in innings this year, from a previous career high of 64.1 IP. Also not seen in the numbers, but he started Game 2 of the playoffs and while he allowed 3 ER in 5.1 IP, he also struck out 8.

The Peoria Cardinals also made the playoffs, but technically they are still alive. They are playing in the decisive Game 3 of the division series tomorrow night, having split the first two games. They won a nail-biter in Game 1, but Ian Bedell got blown up for 5 ER in Game 2.

Cooper Hjerpe (#7 prospect by VEB)

Stats (High A): 10 G (8 GS), 41 IP, 29.8 K%, 14.6 BB%, 43.2 GB%, 3.51 ERA/5.68 FIP/4.16 xFIP

Hjerpe actually did return from his injury, but only appeared in relief in two appearances. He has not appeared in a playoff game. He struck out 1 and walked 1 in both appearances, giving up an earned run combined. Not exactly a lost season, but unfortunate the injury came when it did. I gave you guys props on Cho, but #7 was a truly insane ranking (ahead of Liberatore and Bernal!)

Jimmy Crooks III (#16 prospect by VEB)

Stats (High A): 114 G, 477 PAs, .271/.358/.433, 10.9 BB%, 21.2 K%, .162 ISO, .329 BABIP, 122 wRC+

I can see nothing to critique here. Unless I’m missing something, he should be more of a prospect than he is. I don’t mean by VEB, I mean he wasn’t even ranked by Fangraphs!

Inohan Panigua (#19 prospect by VEB)

Stats (High A): 11 GS, 44.1 IP, 20.8 K%, 13.7 BB%, 45.3 GB%, 4.47 ERA/4.84 FIP/5.05 xFIP

Panigua had something of a lost year. Not exactly, as he did start 11 games, but he started the year hurt and didn’t pitch in his first Peoria game until July.

Ian Bedell (my personal #16 prospect)

Stats (High A): 27 G (19 GS), 96 IP, 27.2 K%, 8.7 BB%, 39.3 GB%, 2.44 ERA/3.50 FIP/3.72 xFIP

As mentioned above, he did finish his season poorly, at least if he doesn’t get another chance to pitch in the playoffs. But he has firmly put himself back on the prospect radar with his season.

Max Rajcic (6th round ‘22 draft, 21, RHP)

Stats (Low A): 12 GS, 62 IP, 28.6 K%, 3.8 BB%, 36.2 GB%, 1.89 ERA/3.08 FIP/3.50 xFIP

Stats (High A): 11 GS, 61.1 IP, 21.9 K%, 7.2 BB%, 36.4 GB%, 3.08 ERA/3.21 FIP/4.02 xFIP

Who knew Rajcic would vault himself above all the other 2022 pitching draftees? That might not literally be true from a prospect perspective, but he’s a contender to start next year in AA at 22-years-old and....I don’t think that’s true of any other draftee. He started Game 1 of the playoffs and struck out 9 in 6 innings of 1 run ball.

Trent Baker (24-years-old, RHP)

Stats (High A): 22 GS, 119.2 IP, 21.1 K%, 5.2 BB%, 37.4 GB%, 3.69 ERA/3.70 FIP/3.94 xFIP

I’ll give Baker this: he just keeps performing. But the Cardinals have not been particularly aggressive with him and he is very much old for the level.

Joseph King (9th round ‘22 draft, 22-years-old, RHP)

Stats (Low A): 19 G (4 GS), 52 IP, 22.6 K%, 6.2 BB%, 44.6 GB%, 5.71 ERA/4.96 FIP/3.91 xFIP

Stats (High A): 17 G (1 GS), 39.2 IP, 19 K%, 5.1 BB%, 48.3 GB%, 3.40 ERA/3.91 FIP/3.59 xFIP

I suppose King is also a contender to make the Springfield roster next year, so my statement was technically false, but King seems like a reliever so I’ll still put Max ahead of him.

Chris Rotundo (19th round ‘22 draft, 24-years-old, OF)

Stats (Low A): 77 G, 332 PAs, .245/.387/.385, 15.1 BB%, 22.6 K%, .140 ISO, .326 BABIP, 119 wRC+

Stats (High A): 39 G, 167 PAs, .277/.398/.489, 12.6 BB%, 24 K%, .212 ISO, .355 BABIP, 150 wRC+

Probably not going to be anything, but still kind of cool to see a long-shot just hit the hell out of the ball and force the Cards to promote him. He had a 127 wRC+ in Low A last year and they still made him bat 332 times this year!

RJ Yeager (24-years-old, 3B)

Stats (Low A): 66 G, 283 PAs, .296/.392/.471, 11.7 BB%, 12.7 K%, .175 ISO, .323 BABIP, 136 wRC+

Stats (High A): 60 G, 262 PAs, .283/.356/.446, 8 BB%, 14.6 K%, .163 ISO, .310 BABIP, 126 wRC+

This was undrafted! He also had a 127 wRC+ in Low A last season and forced the Cardinals to promote him with his play. The K/BB combined with some power is intriguing, even with his age.

Jeremy Rivas (20-years-old, SS)

Stats (High A): 115 G, 453 PAs, .209/.293/.277, 9.9 BB%, 22.3 K%, .068 ISO, .268 BABIP, 66 wRC+

I don’t remember the last time the Cards had a prospect like this, where he has never at any point shown a semblance of being able to hit but the Cards still promote him. I feel like they have to have him repeat High A. He’s really young too! But his defense is why he’s in High A already, not his bat.

Ramon Mendoza (22-years-old, 2B)

Stats (High A): 72 G, 277 PAs, .275/.360/.421, 10.8 BB%, 20.2 K%, .146 ISO, .330 BABIP, 121 wRC+

Mendoza repeated High A and improved his his strikeout rate and nearly doubled his power. Doesn’t appear that he’s used as a starter so I don’t get the sense the Cards think he’ll be anything though.

Nathan Church (22-years-old, OF)

Stats (High A): 119 G, 518 PAs, .279/.364/.360, 8.9 BB%, 11.6 K%, .081 ISO, .316 BABIP, 109 wRC+

If he could just figure out a way to have a little power, he might be something. But that’s been said of about 1,000 hitting prospects before.

Alex Iadiserna (22-years-old, OF)

Stats (Low A): 52 G, 237 PAs, .246/.347/.468, 11.8 BB%, 17.7 BB%, .222 ISO, .268 BABIP, 119 wRC+

Stats (High A): 59 G, 254 PAs, .221/.315/.405, 10.2 BB%, 24.4 K%, .185 ISO, .263 BABIP, 103 wRC+

The low BABIPs are worth chronicling. BABIP is considered more of a skill in the minors than in the majors. Well I’ll re-phrase that. A low BABIP is not inherently unlucky in the minors.

Lastly, Austin Love has been hurt for all but two starts, which is really unfortunate timing given he’s 24, will be 25, and hasn’t seen AA yet.

And that’s all I have for you. There’s a few relievers pitching well that I just didn’t think were worth mentioning, because it’s not that notable to be pitching well as a reliever at these levels.