Top 5 St. Louis Cardinals with most to gain from the World Baseball Classic
3. Ivan Herrera
Once thought of as one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball, Ivan Herrera now seems blocked behind newly signed Willson Contreras for the next five years, or until Contreras makes a permanent move to DH.
The catcher departed spring training in Florida for Team Panama in the middle of one of the most important preseasons of his career. With Contreras and Andrew Knizner fully healthy, he was destined for AAA Memphis, but his future with St. Louis is in his own hands.
He received a promotion to the major league level for the first time in his career last season and while his offense seems to be a strong point in his game, the way he handled the pitching staff and his defensive acumen was not major-league ready.
In 11 games and 22 at-bats for St. Louis last season, Herrera managed just two hits and one RBI. However, he had a solid year with the Memphis Redbirds in 2022. Herrera blasted six home runs at AAA and finished the year hitting .268 with 34 RBIs.
Unfortunately for Herrera when it comes to the WBC, he seems to be the third-string catcher for Team Panama. He is blocked behind MLB mainstay Christian Bethancourt and he has yet to see the field in the WBC.
This makes every chance he gets in the tournament crucial for his future. He will likely get enough at-bats when he returns to spring training, but it would be nice to see Herrera perform against some of the world's best arms.
Panama dropped two of its first three games to begin the tournament, so it's unlikely we will see any progress from the Cardinals' backstop in the next week or so.