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.
RHRP Wilfredo Pereira
Age 24 Season (Late April Birthday)
International Free Agent in 2016
Inaccurately listed at 6'0, 197
I CANNOT AND I WILL NOT QUIT WILFREDO PEREIRA.
If I'm being honest with the audience, that's for damn good reason, too. Sure, I'm certainly over-valuing Pereira more than I should be, but Pereira has been very effective over the last three minor league seasons and I really appreciate that. Quite frankly, the Cardinals haven't given him the time and attention that he has deserved. To the outside observe, the fact that he posted an ERA of 5.02 over 118.1 High-A innings probably won't get their attention, either. I don't know what's in store for Pereira's future, but he's more than just low-level depth with middling success.
I go back and forth about this, but it's my opinion that this thicc fella definitely should stay a starter. For whatever reason (mostly need, honestly), the Cardinals keep fucking up and putting him in a bullpen role. Like we vaguely touched on already, this was his 2nd full season at High-A Peoria and keeping him there all year was, you know, pointless. The only reason to keep him down at A+ would be to keep other teams off of the Rule 5 eligible player. Which, honestly, shouldn't even be a discussion (and almost certainly wasn't).
What I'm saying is that it's stupid that Pereira will probably be at Double-A for the first time in 2023. This should have happened sooner.
As has become a running theme in my evaluations, part of my admiration for Pereira stems from the fact that he doesn't fuck around on the mound. Also, he only pitches from the stretch. I love both of these things because in this day and age of not having time to fuck around because there is so much to fuck around doing, the last thing that I want to do is watch some asshole fuck around with the baseball before throwing a pitch. I also love and appreciate that Pereira will mess with timing through the manipulation of his delivery. Just another "thing" that he brings to the table. Speaking of which, Pereira has never been afraid to pitch "backwards", as well.
Pereira didn't do himself any favors at the onset of the 2022 season. Again, pitching out of the pen has never seemed to be the best fit for Pereira, and he was asked to fill that role for Peoria to start 2022. Pereira didn't last longer than a third of an inning in his first appearance, then got hammered in three of his next five appearances out of the pen. Aside from that first appearance that didn't last an inning, these were all multi-inning outings at the beginning of the season. My guess is that it's fair to say that the struggle wasn't much of a surprise. Especially with the starter/reliever success background that we have already spent too much time talking about.
Pereira had some struggles at the beginning and end of the season, but he was borderline dominant in between. During his D40 write-up last season, we talked about how good he was as a right-handed thrower against lefties. This had a lot to do with how his sinker and his changeup worked off of each other and moved away from lefty hitters. In 2022, Pereira regressed to the mean a little against lefties in part because his sinker got hit a little harder than in the prior season. I'm being selective with the gif below, but I've always loved how Pereira uses the sinker up and out to lefties. He commands that pitch so well, and he didn't use it up and out during the 2022 season like he did during the 2021 season. My guess is that is, at least, part of the reason why he regressed a little against lefties. I would love to see him continue to work up-and-out with the sinker during the 2023 season. Honestly, I just really like it when he works up in the fringes of the zone with all of his stuff.
Entering 2022, we were concerned that Pereira would have to add something more to get righties out more consistently, and what we saw was Pereira throw his slider and changeup more effectively against righties while playing both of these pitches off of an improved and more present four-seam fastball. It's still not a "great" pitch, but it's better than what we've seen.
Neither his four-seam or his sinker are pitches that will blow hitters away - they both live in the 92 MPH range even though he has shown the ability to get into the 93-94 MPH range - but they both have their best usages and Pereira usually seems to use both in a way that best suites his repertoire. This is all to say that even when Pereira is struggling with his average fastballs, he usually knows how to best maximize what he "has" when he has "it", and what not to use when he doesn't "have it".
Of course, the main issue with Pereira is that his command - while quite good - isn't good enough to sneak the 92 MPH fastballs by good hitters in the middle of the plate. The same goes for the rest of his off-speed offerings. We've seen some absolute moooooonshots hit off of Pereira, and allowing 17 homers to High-A hitting in 118.1 IP is a cause for extreme concern. That's probably enough to make the 36th spot on The Dirty the ceiling for Pereira. He's not ever going to be able to get away with leaving anything over the heart of the plate and it still happens too often.
With all of these comments and criticisms about his usage, it's time for some criticism on my beliefs and my opinions. it's more than worth pointing out that, statistically, Pereira performed better out of the bullpen than he did out of the rotation during the 2022. That's it. Nothing quippy or witty or poignant to add to it. I just want to leave it at that.
Still, this is where stats can be fun and tricky and selective, but also hopefully insightful with context.
At the beginning of June, Pereira was moved into the rotation for Peoria, and from that point until August 21st, Pereira held hitters to a batting average against of .207, an OBP against of .255 (with a walk rate of 4.9%), and a slugging percentage against of .382 while striking out 29.5% of the 325 hitters that he faced. He had a bloated ERA, but his FIP over this time 3.62, and he sealed this period of time with a dominant performance that saw his no-hit bid end in the 7th inning of a game that he struck out 13 in. It was also the only time that Pereira went over the 100 pitch threshold. From there, over his final three starts of the season, things were ugly for Pereira. Really ugly. So ugly, in fact, that I'm not going to go into detail about it because it realllllllllllllllllly hurts my narrative. That's how pathetic I am. It was fucking awful, and let's just leave it at that.
But I'm not going to let that ruin my view on Pereira.
Much like with other pitchers on the back half of The Dirty, and some pitchers that aren't on The Dirty, there is a small chance for a Major League debut in Pereira's future. Is it likely? Probably not, at least not with a 92-ish heat and sink while pitching out of a bullpen. But even then, Pereira shapes and uses what he has as well as any pitching prospect in the Cardinals system when he is being used right and he isn't gassed (two things that every pitcher has to work through). Because of this, we shouldn't be too quick to dismiss his potential.
And, yeah. Pereira is a lil thicc boi, too. And, yeah. Maybe that plays into my ranking. What can I say, I'm biased. However, Pereira is working out and getting into great shape this offseason. I had bookmarked a gif of Pereria hard in the gym, but I can't find it now. Sorry about that. Regardless, I can't wait to see the returns on his determination.
Thanks For Reading!! Kyle Reis