Everyone should root for Cardinals' rookie Ivan Herrera

The rookie catcher has a great personality and is a wonderful player.
Miami Marlins v St. Louis Cardinals
Miami Marlins v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals are among the best in the league at churning out MLB-ready prospects and players who can contribute at the major league level. The players come ready to play and contribute at the highest level of the sport and often have personalities to fit the bill.

The most recent example of this type of player would be rookie catcher Ivan Herrera. Herrera, 23, worked his way methodically up through the minors, always pinpointing a part of his game that needed work. His bat was always advanced for whatever stage he was playing, but his glove and defensive work lagged behind.

That didn't stop Herrera from seeking help constantly. He took the opportunity in 2022, his introduction to the majors, to shadow one of the best catchers in the game, Yadier Molina. He grew up idolizing Yadi, Buster Posey, and Salvador Perez as a kid, and he was able to follow Molina at a young age. In 2020, he was able to learn from the future Hall of Fame catcher at the alternate training site.

"We worked out together almost every day and he gave me lots of advice. I know it’s going to help me the rest of my career. I learned about the mental side, how to work and how to have foundation of fundamentals. We talked a lot about the fundamentals of defense."

Ivan Herrera, 2020

Those lessons began showing the fruits of their labor. Herrera took off that year, becoming a top-5 prospect in the Cardinals' organization. His best year in the minors, 2023, came at a time when opportunity abounded in the majors. With Yadi's retirement in the rearview mirror, Ivan Herrera could set his focus on making the major league roster.

Former Cardinal Andrew Knizner played backup to the team's newest free agent, Willson Contreras. Herrera instead took that year to show what he's truly capable. He slashed .297/.451/.500 with 38 extra-base hits and almost as many walks (75) as strikeouts (77). Herrera also showed improvement defensively, as his blocking and throwing began receiving rave reviews. His performance at the Caribbean Series this past winter set him on a path to success in 2024.

Fast forward to 2024, and Ivan Herrera is putting on a show. Andrew Knizer's release this past offseason opened up a backup catcher spot for the rookie, and he's run with it. In just over 100 plate appearances, Herrera has a .284/.340/.389 slash line for a 112 wRC+, 7th among National League rookies. Willson Contreras's unfortunate injury on May 7th has given Herrera full ownership of the team's starting catcher spot.

What makes Ivan Herrera who he is isn't his performance on the field, but rather it's his work ethic and personality. He is one of the most active and positive players on social media, and he takes great pride in his family. Herrera's mother, Dona, is in town to watch him play this weekend against the Boston Red Sox, and Ivan has taken out all of the stops to show her around town.

He is simply returning an unpayable debt to his mother by showing her around town. "I'm so happy that she's here," Herrera said after Saturday night's game. "I owe her everything I have. She's the one that pushed me through my career."

Every fan should root for Cardinals' rookie catcher Ivan Herrera. He has worked hard to get to this point in his career. He's been willing to contribute at every level he's been, and he's answered the call when catchers have gone down with injuries since 2022. Most important, however, is Herrera's dedication to his family and love for those around him.