C Jimmy Crooks II
Crooks had a strong season with Peoria and should move towards the upper levels of the minors as soon as next season. The catcher was at his best in August when he hit .379 with a 1.038 OPS in 95 at-bats. He did so en route to being named the Midwest League's player of the month, according to Minor League Baseball. Crooks smashed 14 extra-base hits and drove in a whopping 22 runs. He was an integral part of Peoria's playoff push.
Unfortunately, Peoria disappointed in the playoffs, as they were eliminated in the first round. However, Crooks provided a spark with a well-placed line drive to pull within one in the series' final game. Ultimately, the rally came up short ending Peoria's (and Crooks') season in early September. Some believed Crooks may receive limited opportunities at higher levels after the A-Advanced season ended, but the Cardinals chose to treat him carefully. Perhaps a Fall League appearance is in Crooks' future. Such a move would make sense for the Cardinals, especially considering how aggressively they have treated their catchers in recent years.
Crooks' progression is impressive, considering he was selected in the fifth round just one year ago. This particularly hot stretch was just one piece in a great first full season of professional baseball. To advance so quickly in such a demanding position is incredible, and it speaks to his maturity as a player. He has a high offensive ceiling, especially compared to most catchers at his level.
Unfortunately for Crooks, the Cardinals have one of baseball's deepest catching pools. However, the most intriguing of these catchers, Leonardo Bernal, is developmentally behind Crooks. Even if he has trouble moving up the catching depth chart, Crooks has the offensive profile to move to another position, such as first base, designated hitter, or even a corner outfield spot. He has an important 2024 season ahead of him, and if everything goes well he could finish the year on the doorstep of the majors in Memphis.