St. Louis Cardinals 2022 Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat
Following today's release of our new Cardinals Top 10, Chris Hilburn-Trenkle answered your questions below.
Richard (Ft. Lauderdale):
- Will Delvin Perez become a productive major leaguer for the Cardinals?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: It's hard to see Perez ever becoming anything more than a defensive replacement off the bench. He's an above-average defender at shortstop with a plus arm, but he provides little offensive value. He doesn't hit for a high average and has well below-average power.
Tim (Proctorville, Ohio):
- With a solid AAA season, can Ivan Herrera be the Cardinals' starting catcher in 2023?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Yes, but Herrera needs to show more than he did during the 2021 season. The 2019 season was impressive, but Herrera took a step back at Double-A Springfield. Opposing scouts felt he wasn't always fully engaged. Still an intriguing skill set, however, so a good season would put him right back on track.
Warren (New London):
- What's your view of Delvin Perez at this point? From Paul DeJong's listing as the 2025 shortstop, should I assume a lack of enthusiasm about Perez and Edmundo Sosa?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Perez is an above-average defender at shortstop, but he doesn't provide enough offensive value to be an everyday shortstop. Sosa likely doesn't either, but his bat is certainly superior to Perez. I would be surprised if either one was the team's starting shortstop in 2025.
Dan (St Louis):
- Hi Chris, thanks for the chat. I’m not as high on Herrera as your rating is. With the draft having several quality catchers would this be the they use a high pick to get one, or try and trade for someone like Melendez from KC? Thanks
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Hi Dan, I think it could depend on the type of year Herrera has. He was very productive in 2019, but took a step back during the 2021 season. If he struggles during the first half of the season the Cardinals could decide to move in another direction for their catcher of the future.
- My question is about Zack Thompson. He was bad in AAA this year, but it was a somewhat aggressive assignment. He was much better in the AFL. What are you feelings about his future? How close was he to being in the top 10?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Hi ZP, it was a bizarre year for Thompson. His velocity was down to start the season, but it was back up to 91-94 mph in the fall league, which is a reason for optimism. He could still be a back-end starter at the big league level, but he has to maintain that velocity and get some of the sharpness back on his curveball.
- What do you make of the prospect jumps for Yepez and Nootbaar?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: The Cardinals know how to develop their hitters and Yepez and Nootbaar were two guys that took leaps this season. They're both big league-level hitters and fans should be excited with their growth. I think the improvement is legit.
Indiana Cardinal (Lowell Indiana):
- Do you have a sense as to why the Cardinals did not give OF Nick Plummer a 40 man roster spot? He was their first round pick in 2015 and after being patient with him as a high school bat since then and through the 2020 empty season, they cut him after his first excellent season at AA and AAA. He is only 25 years old. The Cardinals only have 36 on their 40 man roster. There was some speculation that, at a minimum, the Cards would use him as trade bait for maybe a similarly situated pitcher. It makes no sense.
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: The decision was puzzling to me as well. Opposing scouts are skeptical of his profile because he isn't a very good defender, doesn't run well and had struggled offensively prior to this year, but still a good decision by the Mets to take a flyer on him.
Allen Buller (Portland OR):
- Is Zach Thompson still a prospect? Other than the AFL, he has shown very poor command Thanks, Allen
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Hi Allen, Thompson is still a prospect, but it was a discouraging year for the 2019 first-rounder. His velocity was down to start the season and his curveball didn't look as good as it had in the past. The good news is his velocity was back in the fall league, so there's hope he can bounce back in 2022.
Nick (Castro Valley, CA):
- Would you consider the Cardinals a good organization to help develop Joshua Baez's hit tool? Coming out of the draft, Jordan Walker had some hit tool questions with big power as well, and has progressed quite well so far.
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Yes, I think the Cardinals and Baez are a great fit. The organization has a proven track record with developing hitters. We likely won't see the same kind of immediate leap with Baez as we did with Walker, but there's a lot to love with his profile, especially if his hit tool improves.
- Hi Chris. Where do you think Winns future is, ss or the mound? Thanks
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: I think his future is on the mound. Opposing scouts are skeptical he will ever hit enough to become a big leaguer, and we know he can reach the upper 90s on the mound with a slider that flashes plus. The Cardinals want to give him the opportunity as a two-way player, so it'll be interesting to see how the 2022 season goes for him.
Tim (Proctorville, Ohio):
- Does the selection of ground ball guys, particularly Gordon Graceffo, suggest the Cardinals think baseball will trend away from hurlers wo work up in the zone? Graceffo appears to be a sneaky good pick in the fifth round.
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Interesting question. I don't necessarily think it means they will trend away from that demographic, but I also really liked the Graceffo pick. He has three average or better offerings and throws plenty of strikes. I think he'll be a fast riser through the system.
- Hi Chris, thanks for your time today! I was wondering what the reviews on Delvin Perez's season were. Is he finally living up to his 1st round pick value or has the added strength just moved him from a bust to now a utility IF type?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Hi Frederick, thanks for the question! Perez certainly improved this season, but we're still likely looking at a well below-average offensive player. He's a plus-plus runner and a very good defender at shortstop, so I think he could find a home in the big leagues, but not as a starter.
Shrek (The swamp):
- Hi Chris. How are the Cards int’l signings looking. Guys like Pino and Rivas. Any of them standing out? Thanks.
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Hi Shrek, the Cardinals were encouraged by the progress Rivas made in the FCL this season. He's a very good defender and he stood out for his instincts and understanding of the game. He's a player they're excited about down the line.
- What do you think of Brendan Donovan? Where would you rank him in STL's system?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: I think Donovan could become a solid lefthanded bat off the bench. He's a great fit for the Cardinals given how righthanded heavy the lineup is. Opposing scouts don't think he has a true position defensively, but the bat gives him value.
- Hi Chris. Do the Cards have any future closers in their org? Thanks
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Hi Dan, Edwin Nunez is years away from reaching that point, but he has the kind of high-octane stuff that would fit a closer role. His fastball hits triple digits and he has a high-spin slider, but he's got to heavily improve his command and control.
- How close was Pallante to the top 10?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: I don't want to give too much away with the rest of the list not out yet, but Pallante had a very encouraging season. His fastball was up to 98 mph in the fall league and he pairs it with an above-average slider. He improved his prospect status significantly in 2021.
KB (New York):
- What's your thoughts on the universal DH in regards to advancing the ETA's of Jordan Walker, Nolan Gorman etc?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: The universal DH would help both players since the team already has a Gold Glove defender at third in Nolan Arenado. Gorman spent a lot of time at second base in 2021. The team felt he made progress defensively, but he's always going to be a bat-first player and the DH makes it easier to get him in the lineup every day.
Molly (New Jersey):
- Kind of a deeper guy, but are there any positives to glean from Edwin Nunez's first year? Anything to build off of?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Nunez did show some positive signs this year. He has an electric two-pitch mix in his fastball and slider, and now he just needs to concentrate on improving his command and control. The organization is very excited about him.
George Costanza (Looking for work):
- Is Tre Fletcher making any progress hitting? Any chance he will see Palm Beach this year?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: The plan is for Fletcher to spend the 2022 season in full-season ball. He is one of the toolsiest players in the system, but needs to get in-game reps. He's working with the performance staff this offseason to get him ready for 2022.
- Last year, you said of Ivan Herrera: "His exit velocities have steadily improved as he’s gotten stronger and he’ll flash above-average to plus raw power." This year: "Herrera posts low exit velocities and doesn’t hit the ball very hard with fringe-average power...." Is the difference strength and conditioning, approach, difficulty getting to raw power in games against upper level pitching, something else?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: I think it all comes down to 2021 being a really rough season for Herrera. Whether it's a sign of more bad things to come or just an anomaly is tough to say. He still projects as an above-average hitter and an above-average defender.
Jon KK (Elkhart, IN):
- In 2025 will Jordan Walker be a better defensive 1Ber than Paul Goldschmidt (37 by then)?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Being a better defender than a four-time Gold Glove winner is a high bar, but I think Walker will be at least an average defender. He's athletic, has a great understanding of the game and has good footwork.
Kyle Weatherly (Timmonsville, South Carolina):
- What is the ceiling on Nolan Gorman?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: He's a guy who could hit 30-35 home runs each year as a middle-of-the-order threat.
- How does the Cardinal farm system rank? Especially, how is the system prepared for pitching needs over the next several years after 2022?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: The system has some work to do, but I think the pitching is stronger than the hitting. Improvement from Joshua Baez, Tre Fletcher and Ryan Holgate would help significantly. It's not a top 15 system currently.
DSL Triple Crown (St. Louis):
- Malcom Nunez had a bounce back season and performed well for his age in Double-A. Has he shown enough to stick at 3B? What are your thoughts on his future outlook?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Opposing scouts are skeptical Nunez can stick at third base. He's a well below-average runner and his actions aren't great, but he's worked hard to get better there. I think his bat could give him a spot in the big leagues, but not as a starter.
Chris (Naples, fl):
- Could walker be a legit BA POY candidate for this next year? His upside seems enormous.
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Yes, Walker is the real deal and you could argue he had the best offensive season of any teenager in the minors in 2021.
- Is Yepez the second coming of Allan Craig?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: I've learned from Josh Norris to stay away from comps, but I will say that Yepez has the bat of an everyday big leaguer. Now he just needs a position.
- Hi Chris. Will Matt Liberatore pitch in the bigs this year?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Yes, Liberatore is right on the doorstep of making his big league debut. I think he'll be with the Cardinals by June.
Henry (My castle):
- Hi Chris. Any sleeper prospects for the Cards you like?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Hi Henry, I really like Inohan Paniagua. He showed swing-and-miss stuff at Low-A this season, with a fastball that reached 96 and a curveball that flashed plus.
Curt Flood (Baseball heaven):
- I was surprised the Cards let Plummer go, esp with his on base ability he showed this year. Any insight into this ? Thanks.
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: I'm not sure what the calculus was for releasing Plummer, but I know scouts are skeptical in four of his five tools. He's a limited defender, not a very good runner and likely relegated to left field, which puts a lot of pressure on his bat.
- How close was Malcom Munez to making the list and how do you rate his development so far? Can you please Provide grades for his tools as well?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Nunez had an encouraging season after struggling in 2019. He has plus power and a good enough bat to reach the big leagues, but scouts are skeptical of his ability to stay at third base.
- The Cards left Delvin Perez unprotected. Where are people at on him now? Do you think he might be taken in the Rule 5?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: He could be taken in the Rule 5 given his value as a defender, but the bat still isn't good enough for him to hit in the big leagues.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- Let's say the National League does not go with the designated hitter rule, and Goldsmith is playing 1st base. Will the Cards even try Juan Yepez at another position despite his fielding inadequacies, or end up trading him to a team that needs a 1st baseman or DL?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Interesting question. Yepez could see some time in left field, but the team would be giving up a lot defensively. It's certainly possible he could be used to acquire a big leaguer.
- We've leaned on HOF Yadier Molina so long that it feels weird to name any catcher the heir, but someone needs to catch. Do you think Knizner/Herrera will be enough defensively to cover the club the next decade? Or will Julio Rodriguez get the nod because of his glove and the Cardinals pitching-first approach?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: I don't see Rodriguez ever hitting enough to reach the big leagues. Herrera is an above-average defender and has an above-average hit tool, and if he bounces back offensively in 2022 I think he will be the next starting catcher.
- Any news on Austin Love or the HS pitcher they gave a million to sign, lost his name. Thanks.
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: The Cardinals were impressed by what they saw from Love in the FCL. They feel he has swing-and-miss stuff, especially with his slider, and love the way he competes. They're also excited with Alec Willis. He has the potential for two plus pitches. He'll make his full-season debut in 2022.
Indiana Cardinal (Lowell Indiana):
- How would you compare the defensive abilities of catchers Kinzer (not a prospect status), Herrera and Ali Sanchez?
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle: Herrera would be at the top. He's an above-average defender with average arm strength and moves well behind the plate.