Updated: Feb 24
THIS IS THE PROSPECT PREAMBLE.
Each post will feature these words, so feel free to skip accordingly. I offer the same always-standing apologies for the lackluster quality of my writing, as well as the stream of consciousness nature that I write with. I sincerely wish that I was better at writing than I am but, alas, here we are. Also, I'm very good at this as compared to most, but I am still VERY bad at it. Just think about that for a second, for context purposes.
I want to start off by reminding everyone that these posts are aided and enhanced by the works of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, Baseball America, and Prospects Live. Each embedded link will take you to their subscription pages and you should absolutely do that. Shout out to Geoff Pontes and Matt Thompson from Baseball America and Prospects Live, respectfully, because they're awesome. FanGraphs stats are OBVIOUSLY clutch and awesome, and that's why they are used in nearly every "Dirty" post. LOVE that FanGraphs.
Accordingly, @Cardinalsgifs provides his artistic touch to the pictures in each article, and I wouldn't do this at all if he wasn't a part of it. Special shoutout to @KareemSSN who is a must follow for Cardinals prospects stuff. His partner in crime is @Cardinalsreek and they have their own prospect list coming out soon!! Shoutout to Blake Newberry (@BT_Newberry) and Mr. Brian Walton (@B_Walton) for their work on their list over at The Cardinal Nation, too.
I also want to remind everyone that my list is different in that I don't include players with rookie eligibility that have made a Major League debut. So, you'll have to look elsewhere for Matthew Liberatore, Ivan Herrera, Alec Burleson, Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez, Brendan Donovan, Jake Walsh, Andre Pallante, and ZacK Thompson. Some of these guys have exhausted their prospect status, anyway. I'm just trying to get ahead of this because I will 100% be asked about each. I did almost add 32-year-old Rule 5 draft selection Wilking Rodriguez to the list, but decided against it because he's 32-years-old, entering his age 33 season, and the coverage of him will surely be overly saturated by the time that Spring Training gets going. Also, I didn't add recently acquired Jose Fermín because I just don't care at all. I'm sure he'll make a Major League debut at some point in 2023 which will be cool but I just can't find it in me to care about it at all.
The last thing that I'd like to do is remind everyone that this is just a snap shot of THIS moment. I'm not 100% sure what every player on the list has worked on or has been doing this offseason. So, when I'm a little more conservative with a player like, say, Michael McGreevy, it's without the knowledge of what he's worked on this offseason, along with the gains that he's made in the areas that I'm concerned about. You never know when/if things are going to click for a player, and there's more reason now than ever before - with the advancements in modern baseball technologies - for a prospect to catapult themselves from out of nowhere. Vice versa, it's easier than ever for a prospect to fall off into obscurity.
Finally, I'd like to provide links to other sites that rank Cardinals' prospects. The Cardinal Nation, Prospects Live, and Baseball America all have their 2023 lists published, and MLB and FanGraphs will link to their most recent rankings from 2022:
KAREEM AND CARDINALS REEKS TOP 12
THIS HAS GONE ON TOO LONG. LET'S. GO.
RHRP Andrew Marrero
Age 22, Turns 23 in May
Drafted in the 18th Round of the 2021 Draft
Listed at 5-10, 196
I have decided to be aggressive and put Andrew Marrero 14th on the list simply because I loved Eli Marrero and they have the same last name and it's my list and you can get completely fucked.
I'm kidding!!! About everything in that first sentence except for the last part, of course!!
No, the reason that I put Marrero 14th on the list is because he's REALLY FUCKING GOOD. Just that simple.
Andrew Marrero has already been dominant at times, even if it was against inferior talent. Like, exceptionally dominant out of the bullpen. Luckily with Marrero, it's about more than just the success that he's had statistically, it's the measurables behind it that scream long-term success.
BUT MARRERO NEEDS TO HARNESS HIS COMMAND AND HIS BODY TO GET THERE. I'M ALMOST SURELY ONLY GOING TO SAY THAT ONCE IN THIS POST AND I DON'T WANT IT TO GET GLOSSED OVER SO I'M PUTTING IT IN BIG BOLD LETTERS. HE IS REALLY GOING TO NEED TO LEARN TO HARNESS HIS SHIT WITHOUT COMPROMISING HIS STUFF IN ORDER TO BECOME THE ELITE RELIEF PITCHER THAT HE'S MORE THAN CAPABLE OF BEING.
And, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh boi, does Marrero possess all of the raw tools needed to be an important relief pitcher at the Major League level.
Let's start with his slider, which is the headliner. It's vicious. It's mean. It's like a character from White Lotus: imputatively irredeemable to everyone around it. AND HE USES IT ALWAYS. Like, More than 50% of the time. I love that they don't fuck around and get cute with this nearly 2900 RPM sweeper that devastates righties. It's practical use during games probably makes it the best pitch out of the bullpen on the farm from a righty (and a quick shoutout to Tyler Pike who is no longer in the organization but who's curve was a sight to behold and probably the best off-speed offering from a lefty reliever in the organization). It spins and gyrates and takes the lives of both lefties and righties. It's already all over the post and it's delightful.
It's one of those pitches that gets me to say "JESUS FUCKING CHRIST" out loud when I watch it during games. Then I usually cackle like a supervillain. It's a sight to behold. He'll use it everywhere on or near the plate and against both handed hitters.
The command of Marrero's fastballs is where this is going to get interesting. Marrero can get the heater and the sinker into the mid-90's, but he lives in the 93 MPH range and both get hit because he leaves them over the plate a little too much. The good news is, both pitches are VERY "hard" fastballs and that they are hard to "do work" against. You'll notice in the gif below how it explodes out of his hand. His sinker in particular is a really great pitch that does get hit and does find holes, but it'll run away from a barrel and that saves him a great deal. Of course, naturally, it's acceptable to worry about this in the long run. Especially with as concerned as I've been with so many fastballs and sinkers over many of these write-ups. It's worth paying a little extra attention to how these pitches develop.
What separates Marrero in my book is that if this is all that Marrero has and if this is who he is, well, Marrero is still pretty fucking good. He doesn't throw either the heater or the sinker much, so the question then becomes what to make of a cutter and a curve that he's toyed with in the past. The hope would be that he could continue to develop these as potential "change of pace" options moving forward, but I'm not sure that I really care about that, either. I've openly worried about the development of these pitches in other reviews of other pitchers, but I'm not as worried about it with Marrero because I don't think he really needs much more than heavy usage of his slider and a heater/sinker combo to be a good Major League reliever. Refinement of these pitches and of all of the pitches in his arsenal is going to be huge, but if he can manage to just tinker with his repertoire here and there then he'll have measured and continued success with what he does throw well.
And that's the beauty with a relief pitcher and evaluating relief pitching: I've said all that I can say and there isn't much more to it. We've also seen Marrero pitch well this winter in some high-leverage situations internationally and he's risen to the challenge abroad. For a potential "closing" candidate down the road, mentioning Marrero's ability to rise to the big moment with ice water in his veins seems like the perfect place to end this. In putting Andrew Marrero at the 14th spot on The Dirty50, I'm wagering that the quick-working Marrero is going to end up being more Freddy Pacheco than any of the other countless and high-octane right-handed relievers with command questions that have fizzled out over the years. If he's effective and he's not at least knocking on the door of the Major Leagues by the end of the season then the Cardinals are doing it all wrong.
Thanks For Reading!! Kyle Reis