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 Nick Raposo
Age 24, Turns 25 in June
Undrafted Free Agent in 2020
Listed at 5'10, 200. Bats R/Throws R
While watching Nick Raposo behind the plate might give you a sense of motion sickness, Nick Raposo at the plate can be a very fun experience.
I'm clearly being hyperbolic about Raposo behind the plate, but there is something about his hoppy/jittery motions and constant movement that I find aesthetically displeasing. You'd think that all of this motion would allow for Raposo to get out of the crouch and to the base to throw a runner out a little more, but he was only successful throwing out 4 of 37 base-stealers during the 2022 season, which was mostly part-time work after starting the season on the IL. He has a strong-ish arm, too, which makes all of this even more confounding in my book. Raposo did seem to calm down behind the plate in the 2nd of his season, but that first half was wild.
At some point during the 2022 I talked a bunch of shit online about the way that Raposo caught and it was about this time that Raposo made a fool of me and turned it around a little. That's how dumb I am. That's how ignorant I am.
While Raposo is "fine" handling the tools of ignorance behind the plate, it's what he does at the plate that really sticks out. What's really impressed me about Raposo over the last two seasons is that he has a great deal of success in a limited role. Raposo was given an EXTREMELY tough assignment to start the 2021 season at AA for his taste of affiliated baseball. That assignment was made even more difficult because he was asked to play a VERY part-time role there. I give Raposo all of the credit in the world for staying ready to go with such limited usage, because he made the most of nearly every at-bat that he was given during the 2021 season.
This trend continued during the 2022 season.
You'll be able to tell in the gifs that there isn't much wasted movement in the direct and quick swing that Raposo brings to the dish. That swing is one that old school fans will respect. It's a lot like Harrison Bader's, in my opinion, but without the Harrison Bader to go with it that annoyed so many of the olds. I've actually watched him CRUSH some pitches for tape measure shots with that relatively flat and direct swing. That should make every fan-type happy!! Raposo is clearly up there to find a gap on a line and let the barrel do the work. Raposo makes a good amount of contact without veering too far outside of the zone.
Always a tough at-bat, it was really nice to see Raposo make some strong strides against righties at the plate during the 2022 season. In both 2021 and the start of 2022, Raposo did nearly all of his damage against lefties. However, this changed greatly about two months into the 2022 season, and Raposo's splits were flipped on their head by season's end. He went from doing all of his damage against lefties to doing all of his damage against righties, and basically without reason.
Now, this trend probably tells us that we are still working with too small of a sample to really appraise what's going on. If given enough at-bats in 2023, there is a real sense here that Raposo would see both of his hitting lines regress to a more palatable "mean", with his 292/370/489 hitting line against righties losing some helium and his 224/293/403 hitting line against lefties leveling back out. The 75 plate appearances over 36 games against lefties CLEARLY doesn't tell us much.
While I worry about Raposo behind the plate, this warning comes with the often repeated caveat over the years that I am at my worst when I am evaluating the prowess of a catcher's defense. So, maybe I'm WAYYYYYYYYY Off. Who knows, really. I mean, smart people do. But other than that, who knows? If I stop trying to be witty for a second and really watch and examine Raposo behind the plate, I'd categorize him as "fine".
What I do know is that Raposo can really sting the ball when he makes contact. His short and compact swing meant for line drives has staying power, and that is enough to keep an eye on during the 2023 season. Raposo is an underrated athlete, as well, with speed and instincts that I do not give him enough credit for having.
Thanks For Reading!! Kyle Reis