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Selected 2014 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (22): Juan Herrera was the recipient of quite a bit of chatter during the community vote. Blingboy felt that Herrera has to get higher in the system before we will have any idea if the organization has anything prospect-wise. Blingboy said that with no pop, it is all about on-base percentage with Herrera.
UncleDenny chimed in saying that Herrera was batting over .300 before an ankle injury put him out of action. He also noted that Herrera was still young for Class A+, Palm Beach also, where he will likely play in 2015. - Jeremy Byrd
Derek Shore: Herrera was the Cardinals return in exchange for Marc Rzepczynski from Cleveland at the July 31st deadline in 2013.
The former Indians farmhand quickly gathered praise in the Cardinals organization for his defensive prowess. That earned him a top 30 ranking last winter and this winter, Herrera was able to reach the top 20. This is six spots higher than Oscar Mercado, his counterpart at shortstop who was a second-round draft pick and received a seven-figure signing bonus out of high school.
Scouts say Herrera has big-league offensive upside and the shortstop certainly showed some of that by being a solid/consistent table setter atop the Peoria Chiefs order. His hitting earned him the TCN 2014 Peoria Chiefs Player of the Year as he collected a line of .274/.320/.364, but it wasn’t the slash that gave Herrera the Player of the Year Honor. He led the Chiefs with 56 RBI and finished second in doubles, total runs and stolen bases behind perhaps the fastest baserunner in the system in C.J. McElroy.
Although most likely acquired for his disciplined approach and discerning eye at the plate, Herrera’s on base percentage was at a career-low .320 in 2014. That is not what you’d like to see at the top of the order. He puts the ball in play consistently but without much pop in his bat, it is going to have to be all about his on-base percentage to make his profile work.
Herrera is said to be very polished defensively, which is probably his best asset, as he has all the tools necessary to play the position. Some scouts are dubious though, concerned that his thicker body will make it hard for him to stick at the position as the game speeds up at the upper levels of the minors. He could be a regular player in the Majors if his defense can hold up and if he can hit enough. If not, he may have a limited ceiling.
Keep tabs on Herrera as his progress will be interesting to watch in the upcoming years. For 2015, expect him to be challenged with the bat in the Florida State League.
Brian Walton (15): We have already talked about the four young shortstops down in short-season ball in Oscar Mercado, Edmundo Sosa, Leobaldo Pina and Andrew Sohn. Still ahead in this countdown is 40-man roster shortstop, Cuban Aledmys Diaz.
As a result, it could be easy for some to underestimate Herrera. I did not, ranking the Midwest League all-star 15th on my personal list.
Cardinals minor league hitting coordinator Derrick May also likes what he sees in the 21-year-old Dominican.
“Juan is an energetic kid,” May said. “He played a great shortstop. He hits the ball well. He stays on the ball well and hits the ball hard. He drives in runs, too.”
Above, Derek noted Herrera’s stats rankings on the Peoria club this season. I want to take it a step further and review his standing across the entire system in 2014.
Few players experienced more balanced success than Herrera. He ranked ninth in the organization in RBI (56), tied for eighth in doubles (22) and was second in stolen bases (28). Production, power and speed.
On the latter category, May drew an interesting distinction that shows how much of an opportunistic player Herrera can be. It may be more good instinct than raw speed.
“He stole bases,” May noted. “I don’t think he is a base-stealer, but he was able to steal bases. He did a great job at that.”
It is worth noting that Herrera had already logged 22 steals in just 63 games before his ankle injury on June 20th, and was sidelined 10 days as a result. Clearly he was still bothered after his return, as he went on the disabled list another seven days in late July, again due to his ankle. As mentioned above, he was batting .301 at the time before sliding to .274 at the time of his promotion.
While very strong defensively, Herrera’s best attribute may be his throwing arm.
“He has got a cannon for an arm,” the coach said. “He is a fun guy. He loves to play.”
In other words, Herrera does a lot of things well. When you put all these attributes together, the sum is considerable.
“He is actually a pretty exciting player when you look at it all,” May said.
Herrera is not alone. The shortstop position, long a weakness for the system, is turning into a strength.
“We seem to have a very good mix of young shortstops coming up and it is very nice to see,” the hitting coordinator concluded.
As Herrera played in just 10 games for Palm Beach following his promotion from Springfield, it makes sense for him to return there next spring, with Diaz likely playing every day ahead at Springfield.
Our 2015 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
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