Mid-Season Dirty Thirty-Five: Prospect #12

Since this is the mid-season write-up, it's just a quick overview of the player. When we get to the preseason re ranking in the offseason, they'll be a lot more involved.


Stats are current as of 8/4/2019.


All write-ups were published during all-star week.


Prospect #12: Catcher Ivan Herrera


Palm Beach Cardinals

Signed as an International Free Agent in July of 2016

Age 19




I'm just gonna go ahead and try to get in front of this one: I do not have a feel, at all, for what kind of a catcher Herrera is. It seems like he has a very strong arm, and it seems like his pop-time is right where it needs to be; at the two second-ish mark. It seems like he does a good job of blocking behind the plate, even though that clearly needs works. I have no feel for what kind of framer he is, but he seems below average there. He also seems kind of slow moving side to side.

But this is just how it "seems", to me. I really do not have a feel for it. He's definitely inconsistent. That much is certain. However, for a 19-year-old, I think that he's "fine" behind the plate. He needs to get better and more consistent, but I don't think that there's any indication, at this juncture, that he won't be able to stick as a catcher. BUT, AGAIN, EVALUATING CATCHERS IS WHAT I DO THE WORST, AND I DO A LOT OF STUFF POORLY.

Herrera makes a BIG jump up this list, from 22nd to 13th. This is, in large part, because Ivan Herrera is a very good and disciplined hitter with a quick swing, a solid approach, and terrific plate coverage. If I could guess at what a 19-year-old Andrew Knizner would have looked like if he had spent his upbringing as a catcher, I'd guess that it'd look a lot like Herrera.


Early in the season, Herrera was a force. Over his first 46 games, from the start of the season until June 23rd, Herrera hit 288/382/436 with six home runs and six doubles in 191 plate appearances. To demonstrate how good his approach has been, his walk rate over that time was 12%. At the same time, his strikeout rate was 19.4%. That's high, but not that high for a kid that was 18 year's old for the first two months of the season. To give you an idea as to just how productive Herrera has been for Peoria, his wRC+ after June 23rd was 139.

Truth be told, it really wasn't until the last week or so that he's started to show signs of fatigue. Often times, he's been in the middle of the Peoria lineup, too. That's a lot to ask from a kid that has only been 19 for a little over a month. Still, Herrera hasn't backed down. I feel like Herrera might be trying a little too hard to pull the ball right now, and one of the things that he was doing very well early in the season was going with the pitch to the opposite field. He's still doing that, just not as frequently. Again, this recent struggle feels more like fatigue, to me, than anything else.

You probably aren't over-whelmed by the 13 extra-base hits in 221 plate appearances. I get it. I don't blame you. But let me tell you that Herrera is slow. I mean, not Yadier Molina-level slow, but Carson Kelly-level slow. There aren't going to be many singles that he turns into doubles. Plus, you know.... HE'S FREAKING RECENTLY TURNED 19 YEARS OLD AND HE'S HITTING REALLY WELL AT A FULL-SEASON AFFILIATE! So, you know, calm your nerves!

Herrera has started and played the entire game in 53 of the teams 85 games at the time that this article was composed. There should be some signs of fatigue with that, from a player that has never caught this much, this early in the season. What I know for sure is, Herrera is the type of prospect that every organization would love to have. With continued development and hard work, Herrera's future appears to be as a backstop for the St. Louis Cardinals.


UPDATE:

Herrera is now in Palm Beach where his stats will look awful and we'll freak out. But he's still really good, and he's still really valuable, and he's going to be a keyword-prospect for a couple years to come!


Thanks to Fangraph for the stats!


Thanks For Reading!!

Kyle Reis