This top St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect just got promoted to Double-A

Now take off the pitch count and let him pitch to his full potential.
Peoria Chiefs pitcher Cooper Hjerpe throws against Dayton on Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at Dozer Park in Peoria.
Peoria Chiefs pitcher Cooper Hjerpe throws against Dayton on Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at Dozer Park in Peoria. / MATT DAYHOFF/JOURNAL STAR / USA TODAY

Great news came for former St. Louis Cardinals first-round draft pick Cooper Hjerpe on Tuesday. After two seasons with the Peoria Chiefs, Hjerpe was promoted to Double A-Springfield. He joins a pitching staff that includes top Cardinals pitching prospects Tink Hence, Tekoah Roby, Max Rajcic, and Ian Bedell.

At Peoria, Hjerpe appeared in 21 games, made 19 starts, and struck out 107 batters using a unique, deceptive pitching delivery. My colleague Josh Jacobs compared Hjerpe's delivery to Atlanta Braves pitcher, Chris Sale. Just take a look for yourself

Now, the concern for Hjerpe is the health of his pitching elbow. His 2023 season was limited due to arthroscopy surgery, which limited him to 41 innings pitched. This season, Hjerpe, with a healthier elbow, increased his ground-ball rate to 50.6% and his K/9 improved from 11.20 to 13.38.

It would behoove the Cardinals to help Hjerpe pitch deeper into games, but that is not what is happening at all.

"Hjerpe has yet to complete more than four innings in any of his 11 starts to being this season. The 23-year-old, who was a non-roster invitee to big league camp this past spring, has completed four innings in six starts and been kept under 70 pitches in each of his outings. His most recent start before his promotion included four hitless innings, five strikeouts, and three walks on 59 pitches."

Daniel Gurrero, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

That decision was met with, let's just say, some derision and scorn from Kyle Reis, who follows the Cardinals' prospects for Birds on the Black. Reis makes a compelling point here. If the Cardinals want to develop Hjerpe into a viable starter for the majors, the team needs to stretch him out longer. As Josh Jacobs says, take the kid gloves off.

This is a wonderful step for Cooper Hjerpe, who shows tremendous promise and talent as a left-handed starting pitcher. Hjerpe has a clean slate of health that will allow him to pitch deeper into games. Let's hope the Cardinals organization will allow him to do so in Springfield.