2021-22 International Reviews: St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals made a strong push to sign three of the top offensive threats in the 2021-22 class. They landed one of the top shortstops out of the Dominican Republic, a power-hitting catcher from Venezuela and their first amateur signing from Asia in outfielder Won-Bin Cho. It was a more concentrated class for the Cardinals compared to previous years, as the organization is shifting from two teams in the Dominican Summer League to one team this year.
Top Of The Class
One of the early standouts in the 2021-22 international class, Dominican shortstop Jonathan Mejia impressed scouts with his offensive upside, becoming one of the most exciting hitters the Cardinals have signed out of the Dominican Republic in recent years. Mejia is an aggressive hitter who swings to do damage, generating impressive bat speed from both sides of the plate. It's a sound swing from both sides and he generally stays under control, showing the ability to drive the ball for hard contact to the opposite field, with the potential to grow into 20-plus home run power. Mejia is an offensive-oriented player who has improved his footwork, but will need to continue making progress there to be able to stick at shortstop. He's a high-energy player who could fit at second or third base, with his arm and speed both grading out as average.
The Cardinals signed Won-Bin Cho when the 2021-22 international signing period opened on Jan. 15, 2022, making the 18-year-old Korean outfielder the first Asian amateur signing in franchise history. Cho has a fluid, easy stroke from the left side. It's an adjustable stroke with good bat control, allowing him to square balls up for a high contact rate and go the opposite way when he's pitched on the outer third. Cho mostly shows power to the alleys now, but he has the strength projection in his 6-foot-3 frame to grow into more power. That will be key for Cho, who's around an average runner and can play center field for now, but could end up shifting over to a corner.
While playing in showcases in Colombia, Venezuelan catcher Luis Rodriguez generated attention for his ability to hit with power that was evident in batting practice and also translated in game situations. That power is the calling card for Rodriguez, who has shown a knack for barreling balls with a mature offensive approach for his age. Rodriguez is an offensive-oriented catcher with a fringe-average arm who has made progress with his conditioning, but he will have to work on his mobility and defense to prove he can stay behind the plate instead of ending up at first base.
Names To Know
Yodarlin Peña, OF, Dominican Republic: Peña has been a high-contact hitter from the right side of the plate in games. Now that he's filling out his long, lean frame (6-foot-3, 180 pounds), he is starting to drive the ball with more impact, showing flashes of future plus raw power with lots of room to add more weight and strength. He's a fringe-average runner with long strides who should get time in center field, though if he ends up in right field he could profile there as well, with a strong arm that could be plus once he fills out.
Arfeni Batista, SS, Dominican Republic: Batista is an athletic mover at shortstop, where he stands out for his soft hands and agile footwork. Batista has shown solid bat-to-ball skills from the right side of the plate, with a chance for his tools and offensive impact to tick up once he adds much needed strength to his skinny 6-foot, 160-pound frame.
Leonel Sequera, RHP, Venezuela: One of the youngest players in his class, Sequera has feel for pitching well beyond his years. He has a physically mature build for his age (6 feet, 190 pounds) and a solid three-pitch mix with a fastball up to 91 mph, a curveball and changeup, throwing strikes at a high clip relative to his peers.
Dominican righthander Jovi Galvez was eligible to sign the previous year, but he waited until January 2022 to sign with the Cardinals. At 17, he's 6-foot-2, 220 pounds with fast arm speed and impressive raw arm strength, dialing his fastball up to 96 mph several times and peaking at 97 once. He shows ability to spin a breaking ball, too, though his control comes and goes, so his ultimate role could be as a power reliever.