St. Louis Cardinals minor league first baseman Juan Yepez is putting on a show in Memphis. He deserves a call-up in 2022.
When the St. Louis Cardinals traded first baseman Matt Adams to the Atlanta Braves for minor league first baseman Juan Yepez, it looked like a shot in the dark on the Cardinals’ side. Yepez had some pop, but the likelihood of his ever putting it together to become a big league ballplayer looked slim at best.
Fast forward four years, and the trade is starting to look like a steal for the Cardinals. Yepez has put up outlandish numbers in 2021 playing for Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis. The power has only increased, and his plate discipline has been elite: Yepez’s strikeout-to-walk ratio has been the best of his career so far in 2021, at 0.69 in Double-A and 0.67 at Triple-A. He always showed solid plate disciple, but he’s taken it to another level this year.
The power has also taken a ridiculous leap forward. In 2019, he hit 10 home runs across three levels of minor league ball. Now, in 2021, he’s hit 24. This level of power along with elite plate discipline and a low strikeout rate isn’t common, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next year.
There’s a little problem, though: Yepez’s primary position is first base, where he’s blocked in the majors by Paul Goldschmidt. Yepez is already 23, so he should receive a shot sooner rather than later lest he waste his best years toiling in the minors. This might be a time the designated hitter role comes in handy next year, as the Cardinals might be able to find a spot there for Yepez to do damage.
Yepez is producing career-best numbers at the top levels of the minor leagues, and there’s reason to get excited about what he could mean for the Cardinals. With other young hitters flourishing, such as Lars Nootbaar, Alec Burleson and Nick Plummer, the Cardinals’ future looks bright offensively.
The front office has faced massive scrutiny this year after all the trades that have benefited the other teams more than the Cardinals, but the Yepez trade could be a heist when all is said and done. When the Cardinals decide whom to add to their 40-man roster next year, I’m hoping Yepez is on that list.