Updated: Dec 5, 2021
WELCOME TO THE DIRTY FLIRTY.
These are my top 40 prospects in The Cardinals organization, aside from the players that I’ve already covered in The Dirty Annexes. This little ditty here is the preface to all of the post in our Dirty series. So, if you’ve read this once then you don’t need to read it again!
A warning to those looking for Lars Nootbaar, Scott Hurst, Junior Fernandez, Johan Oviedo, Jake Woodford, Edmundo Sosa, and anyone aside from Angel Rondon that has already made a major league debut: That’s not really my bailiwick, as I’m sure you’ve heard enough about those guys from more qualified outlets already. Most of those guys have exhausted their prospect status, anyway.
A reminder that this is an exercise in futility, ranking prospects. It’s a landscape that is ever-changing and developing. We are almost always talking about kids that are just starting to understand both themselves and their bodies, while learning the most difficult and nuanced sport in the land. You never know when someone is going to start doing 200 pushups per day on their way to postseason glory.
I ask for your thoughts and feedback. I ask that you have fun. I ask that you remember that I’m a moron. Most importantly, I ask that you take all of the prospect rankings from every outlet in the spirit of what they are: a snapshot of that moment, with a bent towards understanding what might come.
#30: Catcher Pedro Pages
23 Years Old
Drafted in the 6th round of the 2019 draft
Pedro Pages has a lot to do with why I decided to wait until the end of the Minor League season to release The Dirty. As we entered the lost 2020 season, Pages was a bat-first catching prospect worth keeping an extra eye on. While Pages had some issues behind the plate in need of work, it was his acumen for lining the ball all over the field that opened eyes. Two years ago, at the end of the 2019 season, Pages felt like a potential breakout prospect. When you combined his advanced feel for hitting with his baseball IQ - specifically his feel behind the plate and his ability to maximize his minimal speed on the bases – you could see a prospect that had the potential to move quickly up the list, as well as up the Minor League ladder.
Then came 2020 and COVID, and with it went some of the wind in Pages’ sails. At the start of the 2021 season, Pages was a shadow of the hitter and catcher that I watched during his 2019 short-season campaign. Pages’ bat looked slower. His instincts duller. He seemed to be anticipating and hoping more than taking command of situations. The only part of Pages game that looked similar was his arm behind the plate. At the midpoint of the season, when I almost released the first iteration of this list to the public, I had omitted Pages from that list. He was one of the guys that I was going to highlight as being right on the outside looking in, but he was off of the list nonetheless. And this is where the "scouting of it all" melds perfectly with the stats and pushes a perceived narrative of an evaluator.
Because Pages is a bigger-bodied prospect, it was easy to assume that he had just lost his advantage, whatever that advantage may have been. That his… husky... body-type, coupled with the layoff, had marginalized some of his natural feel and abilities. These are the types of leaps in evaluation that evaluators have to make on a regular basis, and they are very easy to do. The nature of of easy generalized assumptions is too enticing to pass up on because, in this case, it's usually a correct assumption.
I am pleased to report that Pedro Pages has begun to shuck that mold. In many ways, his ability to work through the early season struggles to get to where he was at the end of the season bodes well for a 2022 breakout. I love the fact that his 2nd half was so productive. To a degree, it tells me that he began to rediscover his feel for hitting and his understanding of how he was being pitched within an at-bat. One of the most intriguing things about Pages is that he is an in-at-bat adjuster. While this seemed to be absent in the first half, it was rediscovered in the 2nd half.
And just how good was Pages in the 2nd half? Well, I’ll tell you!! You know that I hate to gloss over the bad times, but that's exactly what I'm going to do with Pages here. from July 1st until the end of the season on September 19th, a span of 46 games and 196 plate appearances, Pages hit 281/383/443. Pages hit seven doubles, six homers, and a triple-ish while walking 11.2% of the time, striking out 22.4% of the time, and putting up a wRC+ of 130. Even if you want to go back a little further to a purposefully selective June 5th, Pages hit a more-than-acceptable (specifically for a catcher) 266/357/402 with a walk rate of 9.9%, a strikeout rate of 22.4%, all while putting up a wRC+ of 113. Pages REALLY found it once he found it.
When Pages is on at the plate, he wears pitchers out. You'll see that in the gif below. You'll also notice in that gif - and the other gifs of him swinging - that he has a direct and short swing, and terrific hip rotation. You'll notice, hopefully, that I was intentional in putting a couple of gifs of him punching the ball to the opposite field in here. That's because he is still at his best when he is punching the ball to all fields. His swing is meant for it, and he uses incredible leverage to... let's say "muscle"... pitches into hits. From the jump after his draft, Pages' swing is what really caught my eye. I love it.
Pages is more than just a hitter that is trying to find hits, and that's where the real intrigue comes in. As we saw over the last two months of the Minor League season, Pages started to turn on more and more baseballs without compromising his all-fields approach. He had taken a "TRUE" step forward in understanding how he could use a count and how he was being pitched to his advantage. The vast majority of his slugging happened over the last two months of the season (as did most of his plate appearances, to be fair), and Pages looked dangerous at the plate over this time period. He actually reminded me a lot of a pull-dangerous version of Andrew Knizner at the plate.
Early in the season, Pages looked tired behind the plate. Obviously, that was a cause for alarm. I’m happy to say that he seemed to shake that off, as well. Peoria was in a good situation with catching depth between the extremely talented Zade Richardson and 3rd catcher Cristhian Longa – who was later replaced by Aaron Antonini when Longa was released – and it appeared to allow Pages to stay pretty refreshed and energized throughout the season. The gif below will show Pages throwing out a runner at 2nd by throwing behind him. I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure that he was the only catcher on the farm to do that in 2021.
Pages was showing some great signs of life before the midseason mark, but it became pretty clear about midseason that Pages had regained the feel and confidence behind the plate. Pages has a strong arm and he frames the ball well, and both of these skills never seemed to let him down even if he has some sluggish reflexes. You don't have to look much further than the gifs above to see that he has a strong arm. I think that I began to realize that his pitch calling was much better about the midseason mark, as was his lateral movement. (the weakest parts of his game behind the plate). When early in the season it looked like Pages might have taken a step backwards, all indications late in the season pointed to a young man that had began to take steps forward in his development behind the plate.
And that’s about the spot that we will pick up Pedro Pages when we begin the 2022 season. He would have been further up the list had he displayed more consistency, and he would have been off had he continued his first half woes. As he enters AA, he really seems like the exact-type player that is due to begin to reach his ultimate potential, specifically at the plate. The former Texas League could have a bear on their hands. What a great way to end the 2021 season for this high baseball IQ catcher.
As I just take a screenshot straight from their website, I can’t begin to stress loudly enough the important role that FanGraphs plays in the statistical side of what I do with these write-ups. Please subscribe to their service BY CLICKING THIS LINK.
In addition, you all know how important and valuable @cardinalsgifs is to the pictures that fire up these articles. I wouldn’t do the write-ups if it weren’t for him.
Thank For Reading!!