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 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.
SS/IF Jonathan Mejia
Age 17, Turns 18 in April
2022 International Free Agent
Listed at 6'0, 185 Bats S/Throws R
Over the years, I've come to learn from my mistakes while making observations in the process.
I've learned that it's usually a good sign when a top International signing gets off to a start that warrants the hype of their high signing bonus.
I've come to learn that hitting for "slug" at a young age is super-important regardless of what level the player is at. This observation has helped me to realize that smaller infielders that can hit for slug at a young age usually can carry at least some of that slug up the Minor League ladder.
I've also observed that it's rare for a 17-year-old infielder that isn't particularly "big" to slug the ball at a level that they are younger than, even if they aren't stateside yet.
This is exactly what Jonathan Mejia is. This is exactly what Jonathan Mejia has done.
And it's/he's impressive.
NOW, I do think that there is a little too much being made out of his age at the DSL level. It's a fun narrative that is certainly true, it's just that the age difference is over-stated. In my mind, it's more of a cherry on top for the success that he had in 2022 rather than something to overly-focus on in this case. This isn't Leonardo Bernal coming stateside and producing runs 17% more frequently than league average in the FSL. This is a kid going up against his peers. It just so happens that most of his peers are a year older than him, with a sprinkling of pitchers that are 2-3 years older. This is more a Sophomore on the varsity team than it is anything else, for context purposes, as opposed to something like Bernal's situation which was more like a high school senior getting D1 reps. I'm not sure if that makes sense or not, I promise that I'm trying. It's INCREDIBLY impressive either way, but it's a volatile league with volatile levels of talent, and that needs to be taken into account.
Still, I can't remember the last time the Cardinals had someone like Jonathan Mejia in their organization. They usually swing and miss pretty hard on their TOP-top International signings that aren't either older or catchers, and this goes double for both middle infielders and smaller-sized players. It was a triumph in the first place that they were able to sign Mejia, which makes his production-yield already even more promising and hopeful.
Those of you who have been following me for years will know that I'm usually not this aggressive with a player that hasn't made it stateside yet. So, please take Mejia's spot as my 6th best prospect in the organization as a sign of just how special I think this young man can be. This has a lot to do with the production that he put up in the DSL, but it has more to do with the way that he did it. Mejia can get on base a lot of different ways, but what he's really good at is finding the sweet spot of the bat and staying within the strike zone. He's put up 107 MPH exit velocities, but his game is more about making consistent contact with the part of the bat that matters and finding the gaps. It doesn't appear that the fast Mejia possesses elite speed, so I'd imagine that the 3 triples that he put up during the 2022 season will turn into doubles at the next level, but that'll work when he's putting up 14+ doubles every 200 plate appearances, or so. Mejia's bat speed and swing decisions from both sides of the plate show us that consistent doubles production might even be more of a likelihood than a potential.
I'm having trouble embedding a video from MLB dot com into the WIX formatted site, so follow the link below for additional video of Mejia that has a player profile voice over.
While Mejia profiles as more of a doubles hitter moving forward, make no mistake that the five homers that he hit in those 200-ish plate appearances at the age of 17 gives us an indication that Mejia knows when to go and get a pitch that he knows he can launch. In some ways, the teenage Mejia reminds me of what we saw all of those years ago with Edmundo Sosa at the plate. Mejia's potential is astronomically higher than Sosa's was, but there was a time when Sosa's swing showed potential for more power with high-doubles potential while he was a top 10 prospect in the organization and on a lot of "Top 10" short stop prospect lists all of those years back.
To be fair, a lot of Sosa's value back then was tied to his ability to play the field, and it's safe to say that Mejia is still very much a work in progress in that regard. It's pretty well thought that Mejia should be able to stick at short stop long-term, but we'll just have to wait and see. I haven't seen him play the position in-game, so I'll refrain from having a real thought on it as of now. I know from the highlights that I've seen that Mejia has the energy and arm for it, it's just a matter of how his instincts and mechanics will iron out. Again, I'm just going off of highlights so I could be way off. I know that smarter evaluators than myself think he's going to have to move off of short, but what I see is a highly athletic 17-year-old with fluid motions that just needs more reps and training.
The other International shortstop that you'll certainly think of (although he was drafted as opposed to being a "signing") is now-Cardinals Legend Delvin Pérez. I would completely understand why someone might not be willing to buy into Mejia's hype because of how the hype around Delvin played out. Personally, I don't have the same concerns with Mejia that I had with Delvin. A lot of it has to do with the way that his body moves and the poise that he seems to display at such a young age, but it also has to do with the fact that I just like Mejia's "baseball body" more than I liked Delvin's way back when. This is all to say that the concern would be warranted and that caution is definitely appreciated, but Mejia is something different from Delvin.
Jonathan Mejia is the unique combo of being a highly decorate international teenager that the Cardinals signed who lived up to the hype almost immediately. Mejia's swing decisions and his ability to find the barrel, all while demonstrating bat speed, is what really stands out. Mejia has all of the potential to be a doubles machine that can add over the fence power thanks to his hitting instincts from both sides of the plate. Mejia has a lot of work to do in the field and he'll need to continue to grow in the type of contact that he is making, but they hype and potential surrounding what he is capable of being is very real. There is real reason to think that Mejia could be a top 100 prospect - carried by his bat - by the time that the top 2024 prospects list start to trickle out.
Thanks For Reading!! Kyle Reis