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.
FOLLOW THE LIST AND RANKINGS BY CLICKING THIS LINK TO THE ENTIRE LIST OF TOP 40 PROSPECTS AND ANNEXES AND RAMBLES!!!
#9: Outfielder Joshua Báez
18 Years Old
Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2021 draft
Florida Complex League
It’s at this very moment that I realized that we are already firmly into the realllllllllllllly fun part of the countdown for most fans. We are just starting to get into the prospect that everyone will be talking about for years to come, more than likely.
I can't think of a better prospect to get the excitement really flowing following Michael McGreevy and Malcom Nunez than Báez.
Really quick, though: how cool is it that we are just now getting into the top 10 in the organization, and we are talking about our 3rd (at least) really exciting, high-caliber prospect?! It was an awful year for the win/loss record of the organization, but that shouldn't stop you from realizing how talented some of the players in the organization are right now.
The only reason that I have Báez this low is because A.) I just really like some of the guys ahead of him so much and I wanted to give them extra emphasis and B.) because I just want to give the kid a chance to breathe before he gets going in 2022. The sound off of the bat in the gif below almost warrants a top 10 spot on The Dirty by itself. (Editor's Note: The sound off of Báez's bat is now my 8th ranked prospect since Nick Plummer isn't in the organization anymore, I guess)
If you want to talk about a kid with a commitment to being the best version of himself, you won’t need to look any further than Báez. Do a little google searching and you’ll find Báez talking about striving for greatness when he was 15 years old. You will also hear him talk about his close relationship and love for his mother, and a strong support system even though he grew up in a rough area. You’ll immediately notice that he comes across as an incredibly charming and sweet kid. You'll pick up on this immediately in this piece by THE ITALIAN STALLION FRANK "CUSUMONO" who falls in love with any potential narrative like he's never heard one before, provided to you by the intrepid COREY MILLER.
You can be this way when your bat can do the work that Báez’s bat can. It doesn’t hurt that Báez is a 6’4-ish”, 220-ish pound chiseled out of marble God, either.
In many ways, Báez is the prospect that the Cardinals hoped that they were getting when they drafted Tre Fletcher in the 2nd round of the 2019 draft. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Báez is as polished as Masyn Winn was when the Cardinals drafted him with their second-round pick in the 2020 draft, but he’s closer than Fletcher is, even right now. It's easy to envision a situation in which Báez made it to Vandy and eventually put himself into the discussion as a top 10 draft pick by the time he was eligible. I am BEYOND grateful that @MLBPipeline and @PerfectGameUSA provide the content below. FOLLOW THEM.
As I am sure you know, the conversation with Báez begins with his raw power potential. Much like the Cardinals 1st round selection in the 2021 draft Jordan Walker, Báez had some of the best – if not the best – raw power in the entire draft class. Also, like Walker, Báez is more than just raw power; he’s also been able to access his in-game power in some of the most competitive environments that prep kids face.
All of this is to say that his power is REAL. Even more impressive, he doesn't "sell out" to get to his power. Rather, it's just a part of his natural swing and build. You'll notice that Báez generates an incredible amount of leverage to match his quick hands. There is plenty of swing-and-miss potential, but he has a good enough understand of himself and the zone that he is still going to try and find his pitch while taking plenty of walks. He's more than just power at the plate; he's practicing patience. You'll be able to see how well Báez is capable of keeping his hands back in the gif below. Mechanically - STRICTLY MECHANICALLY - Báez reminds me a lot of a teen-to-early-20's Alex Rodriguez. You've got to love that lower half leverage, too.
Another super impressive part of Báez’s game is his clear and present athleticism. There is no reason to think that this monster won’t be able to continue to handle his own in center for the foreseeable future. He’s not going to be Harrison Bader out there, and he probably profiles more like Dylan Carlson out there at best, but he’s also still only 18 years old and growing into his body. Hell, I remember when I wanted the Cardinals to transition Carlson back to first base after they drafted him because I thought that it was his clearest path to the majors. Even if that was the case/best spot for him at the time, we’ve now all seen the growth that Carlson has made since being drafted in the First Round of the 2016 draft. I truly believe that Báez has this type of growth in him, as well. Look, I really just wanted this write-up to say "Joshua Báez is a monster" then end it. I'm trying really hard here. Look at this shot, provided to you by NEXT LEVEL BOSTON SPORTS.
Báez also has a really great arm that we’ll play extremely well in a corner if he does eventually have to make the transition. He’s such a tremendous athlete and kid, and I’m anxious to see what kind of gains he makes this offseason. As you'll see in the video below, Báez was no slouch on the mound during his prep days. Also, follow BEN BADLER, if you aren't already.
Now, the elephant in the Báez room is there because there is some serious swing and miss concerns. This was prevalent for Jordan Walker, too, but Báez is the next level of concern. If I didn’t think that Báez was likely to work through this swing and miss concerns, then I wouldn’t have him this high on the list, and ahead of McGreevy specifically. I, however, strongly believe in Báez. While the stats aren’t pretty, you know by now that I don’t care about that, and neither should you. It was his first small taste of organized professional baseball in his draft season. The statistical results don’t mean fuck all. Look at this majestic homer courtesy of the amazing Héctor Gómez that Báez hit after making his affiliated debut.
While still very raw with a lot of room to grow, Báez is far from a project prospect. He possesses terrific instincts and skills, and he’s by far the most fun and athletic player that the Cardinals drafted during the 2021 daft. With some of the best raw power and startling high exit velocities in-game, the comparisons to today’s best power hitters like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are easy to make with this strong 6’4” monster. Right now, Báez has enough feel to stay in center but maybe destined for a corner role moving forward. Báez is the perfect hitting prospect to draft in the 2nd round and pay over-slot for.
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.
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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!!