Updated: Feb 14
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 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.
Catcher Pedro Pages
Drafted in the 6th Round of the 2019 Draft
Listed at 6'1, 234. Bats R/Throws R.
We are nearly at the halfway mark of the prospect countdown, and we are starting to really get into the flashy names that we will be hearing a lot about over the next two to three years, specifically.
As we get to about this part of the list, these are usually the prospects that the people are always asking about. They are the prospects that are either raw/far away, recently drafted, or nearly knocking on the door. They are the prospects that you'll clamour for. They are usually the prospects that you'll hear John Mozeliak or Michael Girsch or Randy Flores or Gary LaRocque or someone in the organization talk about on the radio or TV, and it'll get you so pumped up that you'll be convinced that they are going to be every day Major Leaguers and for years to come.
That is not who Pedro Pages is, and I'm oddly thankful for it.
Pages is steady. He's streaky at the plate sometimes, but he's also very steady. He's a catcher, too. Relatively speaking for the minor leagues, he's a decent enough catcher at that. He's not the defensive caliber that we've seen of players like Cardinals Legend Julio E. Rodriguez (mostly because Rodriguez is elite back there and I really hope he gets a fair shake in the Tigers' organization), but he is... wait for it... STEADY.
When the Cardinals signed Willson Contreras this offseason, the question among the fans became "What does this mean for Ivan Herrera?" Fair enough. I get it. Personally, I don't think that it has an impact on Ivan Herrera's 2023 season because it's not going to hurt a 22/23-year-old catching prospect to spend the majority of another season at AAA. The question that I had, actually, was "what does this mean for Pedro Pages?"
Now, again, I'm not trying to sell Pedro as an everyday catcher at the Major League level with all-star potential. I'm not even going to try and sell him as a season-long, backup catcher on a Major League 26-man roster (although I do believe he's capable of that). No, what Pedro Pages is, more than likely, is a terrific depth option with some underrated and statistically deceiving bat-to-ball skills that will go underappreciated and relatively unnoticed by most of Cardinals Nation until he's magically making a Major League debut because of mounting injuries at the ML level. That, or because he's crushing the ball in the minors.
For an organization built upon the "draft and develop" philosophy that honours both the "next man up" and "stick with our guys" mentality, the is an INCREDIBLY valuable and important role for this organization. In a lot of ways, I've even been under-selling how good Pages is/is capable of being.
This assessment rings extra true when Pedro Pages zones in at the plate. While Pedro Pages success at the plate is dictated heavily by his ability to find both gaps, the part of his game that doesn't get the credit it deserves is what happens when Pages really turns on one. This next line might sound crazy or incorrect when you are talking about a hitter that struck out 30.3% of the time on the season between AA and AAA, but there is some really underrated in-game and raw power in the contact-drive oriented swing of Pages.
Of all of the stats attached to Pedro Pages, it's that 30.3% strikeout rate that I believe is the most deceptive. Pages does a very good job of laying off of pitches outside of the zone, he makes an acceptable amount of hard contact, and he uses all fields. His walk rate of 11.3% on the season should help to give a better idea of his pitch and zone recognition. It always seems like he strikes out in bunches, to me. Which, of course, yells "MORE CONSISTENCY IS NEEDED".
From here, it gets a little dodgy and critical. When Pages was promoted to Memphis for his first game on June 17th, he wasn't even the best catcher on the Springfield roster. He wasn't ready for the assignment, and you could tell from the beginning that he was overmatched and in a brutal way. Lingering injuries to now Cardinals Legend Julio E. Rodriguez at Springfield had a lot to do with why Pages got the assignment/promotion. This little nugget of information isn't in here to beat up on Pages or to diminish his prospect status, but it is in here to give some context about why he struggled so much once he was promoted.
In some ways, it reminded me of all of the way back in like 1904 or whatever when Tommy Edman was overmatched while being aggressively promoted to both then-High-A Palm Beach and later Springfield (it was actually 2017). Edman was clearly overmatched, but he learned and adjusted and chipped away at advanced talent. There, Edman did all that he was capable of in the other facets of the game to gain the trust of his teammates and the organization.
To be as clear as possible, Pedro Pages will not be the catching version of what Tommy Edman has become in the infield. Just going to throw that out right away. What he will be, however, is a valuable depth option at one of the most demanding positions in all of sports if he continues to apply the lessons that he learned - then applied - specifically at the plate by the end of the 2022 season. While not "bust ya shit open" good, Pages was a league average run producer from the beginning of August until the end of the 2022 season.
The most impressive part of Pages game behind the plate is his arm, for my money. I DO NOT have his pop time or any of the other data associated with catching because the people that I talk to that do have it are stingy motherfuckers. To me, Pages has always seemed a little slow popping up and going side to side as needed. I will remind everyone once again for the 100th time over the last seven-ish years or whatever that I am at my worst when I am evaluating catchers. And, for your information, it's probably pointless to trust anyone when they don't have the data. In pitch framing, Pages usually buoys between average and above-average.
You might be asking "with the catcher position blocked, could Pedro Pages play another position?"
I honestly don't think so, but who knows. Pages is pretty damn slow and I'd think that would stop him from playing a corner outfield. I say that, but we've seen crazier things happen, haven't we?...
While I just dissed on his speed, what Pages has in abundance is baseball I.Q., and he demonstrates that on the base paths. There are few things that I've come to appreciate in the game as much as a slow runner that does a lot on the base paths because of their innate ability to feel the game. Pedro has some of this in his instincts.
The 26th overall spot on this list might be a relatively aggressive spot for a player that struck out over 30% of the time while producing a sub 70 wRC+ in AAA over 170 plate appearances at the age of 23. Especially if the player in question has a few defensive question marks here and there. I think that should give you some idea of how valuable catching is. While the offensive low-line has now been set for Pages following an inconsistent 2022 season, I don't believe that is the hitter that he is. We've said it in prior write-ups, but there is a lot of minor league Andrew Knizner in Pedro Pages game. If he pulls it all together, then he could easily perform the duties of a capable backup for a handful of years, if not more. The difficulty of that role isn't nearly as appreciated as it should be, and the same goes for that role on a ball club.