photo: Jonathan Mejia (center)
The St. Louis Cardinals’ bonus pool is $6,262,600. This is an increase from their $5,899,600 pool last season. Teams are not allowed to trade bonus pool money, nor are they allowed to exceed their bonus pool total. Signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward the bonus pool. Also exempt are any foreign professional players who are at least 25 years of age and played in a foreign league for at least six seasons.
2022 is the second year in which the international signing period has begun on January 15th instead of the customary July 2nd. It runs through December 15th.
This list of 12 signees was announced by the Cardinals on Saturday afternoon. Seven pitchers, two shortstops, two outfielders and one catcher are among the signees. All of the players are being signed for the 2022 minor league season.
|Last, First Name||Pos||B/T||HT||WT||DOB||Age||Hometown|
|Batista, Arfeni||SS||R/R||6-0||161||9 04 04||17||Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic|
|Chirinos, Junior||RHP||R/R||6-3||190||11 18 04||17||Ciudad Ojeda, Venezuela|
|Cho, Won-Bin||CF||L/L||6-2||200||8 20 03||18||Seoul, South Korea|
|Dominguez, Diego||RHP||R/R||6-0||178||7 02 04||17||Morelia, Mexico|
|Galvez, Jovi||RHP||R/R||6-2||223||7 05 04||17||Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic|
|Herrera, Yordy||LHP||L/L||6-2||150||12 02 04||17||La Vega, Dominican Republic|
|Mejia, Jonathan||SS||S/R||6-0||185||4 12 05||16||La Romana, Dominican Republic|
|Pena, Yordarlin||CF||R/R||6-3||177||9 17 04||17||Haina, Dominican Republic|
|Rodriguez, Luis||C||R/R||6-1||210||10 07 04||17||Barquisimeto, Venezuela|
|Sequera, Leonel||RHP||R/R||6-0||190||8 06 05||16||San Feliz, Venezuela|
|Suriel, Jose||RHP||R/R||6-3||240||10 09 04||17||Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic|
|Ynfante, Nelfy||RHP||R/R||6-3||168||2 01 05||16||San Francisco de Macoris, Dom. Rep.|
The first-day class of internation signings is smaller that it has ben in recent years. The Cardinals signed 23 players on the first day in 2019 and 15 players on the first day in 2021, while the team only signed 12 players to open the international signing period this year. That is likely due in part to signing a pair of highly touted Latin American players and an in-demand Korean prospect.
The Cardinals targeted a pair of highly rated prospects in Dominican shortstop Jonathan Mejia and Venezuelan catcher Luis Rodriguez.
The Cardinals have typically preferred to spread out their bonus pool money among a large group of players as opposed to signing a few highly touted prospects. The team has taken a different approach this year, signing the 14th ranked prospect (Mejia) and the 26th ranked prospect according to mlb.com. Baseball America ranks the duo 12th and 28th, respectively. For reference, in last year’s class, Adari Grant was the highest rated prospect who signed with the Cardinals and he was ranked 47th by Baseball America.
Our 2021-22 international big board includes SS Jonathan Mejia, one of the top names expected to sign with the Cardinals.
Reports + video here: https://t.co/QPrmkwzYl2 pic.twitter.com/5Vf2Gpyz2E
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) November 27, 2021
Both players have also been given high marks for their hitting abilities and power. At such a young age, there is plenty of development ahead of each player, but both of them have an offense first profile with defensive skills that are a bit behind.
According to Jesse Sanchez off mlb.com, “on defense, Mejia shows plus arm potential, and he is expected to stay at shortstop as long as his abilities enable him to play the position. There’s a chance he develops into an offense-first second or third baseman.”
Sanchez also described Rodriguez as a defense first catcher who should have a strong enough bat to play first base if he does not develop well enough behind the plate.
Though the signing bonuses have not yet been announced, it would not be surprising to see either or both players exceed $1 million or even approach $2 million, as is rumored to be the case for Mejia. For a team that usually avoids spending large chunks of bonus pool money on a single player, this is a sign of how much the organization values these prospects.
The Cardinals have typically had a large presence in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela and that continued in this signing period with 10 of the organization’s 12 first-day signings coming from the two countries.
Won-Bin Cho joins Mejia and Rodriguez as the three most highly touted prospects signed by the Cardinals. Cho sparked MLB interest when he won the 2020 National Power Showcase hosted by the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. The outfielder took the top spot in the under-17 home run derby at the event with players from 27 different countries participating. Even more impressively, Cho won the showcase just two years removed from being a pitcher. After winning the National Junior High School Baseball Championship and winning the Outstanding Pitcher Award in 2018, he converted to being an outfielder.
The 18-year-old recorded a career .362 batting average and 1.073 OPS in high school with five home runs and 30 stolen bases. This made him one of the most sought after players in the KBO draft, which he applied for but then eventually backed out of in order to seek opportunities stateside. His blend of power and speed make him an intriguing prospect, but he also has a strong arm, due in part to his pitching days, and overall, some consider him to be a potential five tool player.
The Cardinals have a history of signing Korean players, as the team previously signed Seung-Hwan Oh and Kwang-Hyun Kim out of the KBO. However, Cho is the first player that the Cardinals have signed from Korea without any professional experience. In that sense, this is a landmark signing for the Cardinals and their scouting staff as they have made inroads in a new territory.
The posted video is a bit long, but the 18-year-old Korean starts hitting bombs around the four minute mark. It can be difficult to scout a player at a home run derby event because oftentimes he is selling out for power instead of taking a game-like swing. That is likely the reason why Cho lost his balance so many times at this event. Still, he hit quite a few tape measure home runs and he generates a lot of torque which helps his lower body explode forward in his swing. One of his most impressive home runs from this event in just past the ten minute mark when he lost his balance on an outside pitch and hit a straight line drive that still had enough to clear the fence.
Cho has plenty of potential and it is impressive that he is such a strong hitter despite only focusing of offense full time since the 2019 season. He will likely command a somewhat large signing bonus as well, rumored to be in the half-million range.
Loading 🚀 @withpolanco @FullCountGA @gsisports_ #Cardinals pic.twitter.com/3xlhxPmWqu
— Won-Bin Cho / 조원빈 (@wonbincho3) January 21, 2022
The Cardinals had a balance of seven pitchers and five hitters with their initial signings, although their three highest profile additions are hitters. The organization also added a Mexican prospect, RHP Diego Dominguez, which it did not do in its last international class. Additionally, of the seven pitchers that have signed, only one is a southpaw.
It is also interesting to note is that none of the players signed today are below six feet tall. This is not super surprising on the pitching side since pitchers tend to be above six feet, but each of the position players signed by the Cardinals currently play up the middle and have plenty of size.
Getting questions about past #stlcards international signings. The Cardinal Nation's 2021 Prospect Guide has 11 pages of the top signings back to 2004, with explanations, amounts, current status and more. Still have a few book copies for sale on closeout. https://t.co/CUKF1so3MR pic.twitter.com/3KCbktFKBW
— Brian Walton (@B_Walton) January 17, 2022
To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.
All 12 of these new Cardinals are temporarily listed under the team designated as “DSL Players Signed”. They will remain there until their initial professional teams are assigned, likely not until after spring training.
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