Cardinals: Farm system ranked top 3 in all of baseball for 2023, let's review
By Josh Jacobs
Cardinals' Tier 2 prospects
It's already huge to have so many Tier 1 guys, but the fact that St. Louis has Ivan Herrera, Cooper Hjerpe, Matthew Liberatore, and Michael McGreevy as borderline top 100 prospects as well shows how much depth there is in their system.
Ivan Herrera's future is a bit muddy now with the signing of Willson Contreras. Early projections as the heir to Yader Molina's throne in St. Louis do not appear to be likely, but at just 22 years old, he is far from a "bust". Herrera could split time with Contreras in future seasons, and still has the ceiling of an above-average catcher both offensively and defensively. Catchers tend to develop slower, so there needs to be patience when it comes to Herrera.
The same can be said about Matthew Liberatore, who many fans seem to have soured on already. There is a reason most scouting outlets really like Liberatore still. He is still just 23 years old and has the stuff to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm for a long time. Sure, his statistical struggles the last two years are a bit concerning, but there is still plenty of time for him to develop into the guy the Cardinals thought they were trading for.
Cooper Hjerpe was the Cardinals' first-round pick in 2022, and some scouting outlets already have him as a higher-rated prospect than Gordon Graceffo and Alec Burleson. While Hjerpe does not have the "blow you away velocity" that we love to see in top prospects, his fastball does sit between 90mph-94mph, and he produces a lot of whiffs on his off-speed stuff. Baseball America thinks he will also be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter who can be in St. Louis really soon.
Michael McGreevy projects to be a back end of the rotation arm or a really good bullpen arm after being selected in the first round in 2021. While hearing Cardinals have a few different guys who have middle to back end of the rotation potential may not sound all that exciting, it actually should be for Cardinals fans. The club has had to overspend on these kinds of arms in recent years, and if they do not have to worry about sending dollars or prospect capital for these kinds of arms going forward, this frees them up to pursue more front-line pitching to pair with Tink Hence and Gordon Graceffo.
Think about the Cardinals' pursuit of David Price. When they made their big offer for him, they had Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, and Alex Reyes all in their rotation or near it, which gave them the flexibility to go out and spend big on one guy to pair with Adam Wainwright. If the club hits on a few of Hence, Graceffo, Liberatore, Hjerpe, and McGreevy, they'll find themselves in a very similar situation.
Let's look at some Tier 3 prospects and review the state of the farm as a whole.