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.
Shortstop Jeremy Rivas
Age 20 Season (March Birthday)
Signed as an International Free Agent in July of 2019
Listed at 6'0, 172. Bats R/Throws R
THE WORD THAT I WILL EMPHASIZE AND EMPHASIZE WITH RIVAS IS INTENT.
Put as simply as I can, Rivas is worth every bit of the hype that he was given as one of the Cardinals best "J2" international signings in 2019. He has a well-developed physique for a 19-year-old (turns 20 in March). He's 100% going to be able to stick at shortstop with a chance to be a special defender.
Rivas can make contact with a lot of stuff, but he's not a "real" prospect in my eyes until he starts to swing the bat like he's trying to do damage. When you watch him now, it's like he's just dicking around at the plate. Maybe he is. Maybe it's a confidence issue. Who knows, really. When you watch the gif below you'll get a feel for the potential within his bat-path. You'll see even within the homer below that there's a lethargy to his swing that doesn't do him any favors.
Playing in the Florida State League as 19-year-old isn't easy. A lot of the pitchers are either wild and young or older and more developed. There's a lot going on and there's a lot to learn. The issue is, there was never a moment when I saw Rivas jump at "his" pitch. He has a great swing and solid bat-to-ball skills and pitch identification abilities, but he doesn't do enough with it.
So, it's all about intent moving forward. If he wants to be a top 15 (or higher) prospect on the list with a potential MLB debut in his future then he's going to have to decide to do more at the plate. With that, I also want to take a second to emphasize "DECIDE" because he's too talented and too natural to be swinging a maxed-out swing that looks half-assed. Rivas makes a decent amount of contact with some decent swing decisions and he's capable of using the entire field. If he can just commit to doing damage with his swing against his pitch instead of just staying alive within a bat then I'll aggressively move him up the list.
There was a time when these same things could be said about Lars Nootbaar many years ago. The first thing that changed for Nootbaar - even before he went to Driveline and used tech to maximize his swing - was the DECISION to swing hard with the intent to do more damage. I'm not saying that will be enough to catapult Rivas to a Major League debut, but it would certainly be the correct decision to make for his development and career trajectory.
Like I mentioned above, I believe in Rivas as a fielder. He wears his size well, and there's a natural feel that is evident with his work at short. In the gif below, you'll be able to tell that he gets good reads off of the bat, and that he has a ton of arm strength even when he whips the ball over to first. I feel confident in saying that he'll make every play that you'd want a shortstop to make and then some right now, with the change to get to everything under the sun with continued growth and development.
Anyway, here's another gif because I don't know what else to say.
I guess I'll finish by saying that Rivas has tremendous instincts in the field and on the basepaths, where his above average speed and decision making plays well. This sure-handed and strong-armed shortstop prospect just needs to commit to doing damage at the plate to be more than a fringe prospect.
Thanks For Reading!! Kyle Reis