#9 - Cooper Hjepre
Drafted in the first round of the 2022 MLB Draft, Cooper Hjerpe may be flying under the radar for most Cardinals' fans, but many who follow the team closely are very high on the 22-year-old.
One of the best Cardinals' prospect gurus out there is Kyle Reis, who in his preseason top 50 Cardinals prospects rankings, had Hjerpe ranked as his "2A" prospect, with Masyn Winn, Tink Hence, and Gordon Graceffo just a hair behind him. Another great prospect ranking, which is worth a read for how data-driven it is, by @CardinalsReek and @KareemSSN had Hjerpe as the Cardinals' #5 prospect this year.
Hjerpe was the the top college arm in the 2022 draft class, and he's got that fastball-slider combo that works so well in today's game. When I watch him throw, I get a lot of Chris Sale vibes. In 103.1 innings during his final year at Oregon State, he had 161 strikeouts and allowed just 23 walks while posting a 2.53 ERA.
Hjerpe is someone that, if all goes according to plan, will be in St. Louis as soon as next year, and has the ceiling of a top end guy. To say he could be a ace in the vein of a top 10 pitcher in baseball is probably a stretch, but to say he has the ceiling of a low-end number one starter or high-end number two seems real. This doesn't mean he'll be that, but he's got what it takes.
Hjerpe ranks lower for me on this list since he's barely got any professional innings under his belt. If he takes off as the season goes on, he will rise up this list quickly.