Cardinals Continue Non-Drafted Free Agent Signings

photo: Jacob Buchberger (Andy Visockis/Davenport University)

On Monday, June 15, the St. Louis Cardinals continued their post-draft additions of minor league free agents into a second day.

The organization’s sixth overall signing is third baseman Jacob Buchberger of Davenport University in Michigan. Later in the day, he was followed by catcher Nick Raposo of Wheaton College in Massachusetts and the second Gonzaga free agent signed, pitcher Nick Trogrlic-Iverson.

You can read about the first five new Cardinals signed on Sunday here:

St. Louis Cardinals Augment 2020 Draft with Free Agents

The Cardinals do not announce signing bonuses, but this year, all free agents across the game are limited to no more than $20,000 each.

Through Day 2 of the free agent signing period, St. Louis’ eight additions are the third-most of the 30 MLB organizations, trailing only Boston (10) and the Chicago Cubs (9). At the other end of the spectrum are the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays, with no new signings, per data compiled by Baseball America.


Updates

The Cardinals also announced on Monday their first official signing from among their seven 2020 draft picks.

Alec Burleson

Later on Monday, Burleson’s under-slot signing bonus was disclosed.

Bonus details from the Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold:

Five of the Cardinals’ eight non-drafted free agents received the maximum $20,000 bonus. Of the first 77 non-drafted free agents signed across MLB, just four did not receive the maximum, and three were Cardinals.


St. Louis 2020 Free Agent Signings (3)

1B/3B Jacob Buchberger
Davenport University, senior
6’2”, 215 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Jacob Buchberger

Buchberger is a highly productive Division II player who got better every year in college. He was not a starter in his freshman year, and he collected just 16 at-bats in 35 games. However, he became a starter as a sophomore, and that is when he broke out at the plate. He slashed .359/.435/.650/1.085 that year with six home runs and a 1:1 K/BB ratio. The following year he raised his batting average to .429, hit eight home runs, improved his K/BB ratio to 13:22, and stole 22 bases while reaching base safely in nearly half of his plate appearances. In a shortened 2020 season, he somehow managed to get even better as he posted a slash line of .525/.589/1.016/1.605 while clubbing six home runs and stealing eight bases in 15 games.

He clearly has an advanced hit tool even though he only showed it against Division II opponents. Additionally, Buchberger’s power output increased every year, and he has a good amount of size which should allow him to have a good amount of over-the-fence power in pro ball. He also showed a strong ability to steal bases in college which means that he likely has a good combination of speed and baserunning ability.  It will be interesting to see how he handles such a large jump in competition once he faces professional pitching, but he was clearly a dominant force at his level in college.

Additionally, Buchberger pitched 29 2/3 innings in his college career. Davenport University seemed more interested in putting him in the lineup consistently, but when he did pitch, he was effective, as he posted a career 2.12 ERA. It is unlikely that he will pitch in professional baseball, but his history of pitching presumably means that he has a strong arm in the infield.

Buchberger racked up numerous accolades in his time at Davenport. The corner infielder won numerous academic awards as well as Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference Player of the Year, First Team All-Conference and Third Team All-American. Additionally, in 2019 he tied the school record for batting average in a season at .429.

The right-handed hitter also played three years in summer ball, allowing himself to be tested against Division I competition. He performed well as a member of the Muskegon Clippers in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League in 2017, as he batted .310 with three home runs and 18 walks in 105 plate appearances. Buchberger joined the Kokomo Jackrabbits of the Prospect League in 2018 and continued to hit the ball well. He batted .296 with three home runs, six stolen bases and 14 walks (156 plate appearances). He struggled in the summer of 2019, however, as he represented the Green Bay Booyah of the Northwoods League. Buchberger batted just .235 and struck out 34 times. Despite his overall struggles, though, his power output was solid as he hit five home runs and 15 other extra base hits.

As a player with a strong hit tool, potential plus power, and good speed, Buchberger has a chance to become a solid player. Additionally, he has a strong track record of college success as well as some summer league success as well. He is the third small-school hitter that the Cardinals have signed as an undrafted free agent.

Click here for recent video of Buchberger discussing his draft status.

C Nick Raposo
Wheaton College, senior
5’11”, 195 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Nick Raposo

Raposo played all three-plus of his collegiate seasons with the Wheaton College Lyons of Massachusetts.  The right-handed pull hitter compiled a career slash line of .366/.440/.505/.945 through 131 games.

In both his sophomore and junior seasons, Raposo was named a second-team Division III All-American. He also received All-New England honors from D3Baseball.com and all-league honors from the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.

During his last three summers, the Rhode Island native competed in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, starting in 2017 with the Newport Gulls. The last two years, Raposo moved to the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, and was selected as a 2019 NECBL All-Star. Last summer, he slashed .298/.408/.430/.838, including 10 doubles and two home runs. Raposo plated 26 and drew 24 walks against just 13 strikeouts in 121 at-bats over 33 games while helping his club reach the NECBL finals.

In addition to catching, Raposo can also play first base.

Nick Raposo (Wheaton College)

Blake Newberry’s scouting report

Raposo has an established track record of hitting, both at Division III Wheaton College and in various summer leagues. Additionally, he takes a decent number of walks, but one his real strengths is avoiding strikeouts. In fact, after his freshman year, he struck out just 18 times over 300 plate appearances. This should be something that helps him in pro ball. His walks should be enough to bump up his offensive production a bit, and  by not striking out very much, he gives himself more chances to get hits. If some of his success at the plate can carry over into professional ball, then this could turn him into a real asset.

However, due somewhat to his limited size, it does not seem likely that Raposo will ever develop into a legitimate home run threat. He may be able to occasionally reach double digits over the course of an entire season, but it is unlikely that he will do more than that.

One of the assets of his relatively small stature is his mobility and athleticism behind the plate. This gives him the potential to be a solid defensive catcher, although he could use a little improvement as he allowed 29 passed balls in 131 collegiate games. He will need to learn better technique in the Cardinals organization so that he can better handle pitches in the dirt. However, because of his athleticism, there is a chance that he can correct his technique. He also improved his ability to throw out potential base stealers as he matured. His caught stealing rate rose from 25% as a freshman to 39% as a junior, and he was at 57% before the 2020 season was cancelled.

It seems that the Cardinals are expecting their player development team to improve his ability behind the plate, while hoping his bat can carry him through the lower levels of the minor leagues.

Raposo has described himself as being willing to compete and do the little things, and this mentality should help him improve, especially defensively. However, his bat does seem to be more advanced than his glove currently.

There is very little video on Raposo available on the internet, but from what is there, it is possible to analyze Raposo’s swing mechanics. The right-handed hitter has a balanced stance and a somewhat large leg kick that he uses as a timing mechanism. This leg kick has an exactly opposite motion as his hands. During his load, his hands go down a little bit when his leg is coming up. Then when his leg goes forward, his hands go back towards his shoulder. This stretching of his body allows him to create a good amount of torque for such a small hitter, which gives him adequate power despite his frame. This should allow Raposo to hit for a bit of power in the professional ranks.

P Nick Trogrlic-Iverson
Gonzaga University, senior
6’1”, 175 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Nick Trogrlic-Iverson

The Ontario, Canada native pitched his first two collegiate seasons at Central Arizona Community College. Trogrlic-Iverson was a reliever as a freshman, pitching in 24 games, and moved to the rotation as a sophomore. Combined, he logged a 2.61 ERA, striking out 131 and walking 44 in 124 innings.

Trogrlic-Iverson was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 15th round (455th overall) of the 2018 draft, but instead, the right-hander moved to Gonzaga.

In his junior season in 2019, he was a swingman, making seven starts and 19 relief appearances for the Zags. He totaled 41 strikeouts and 22 walks in 67 2/3 innings with a 5.05 ERA. In the truncated spring of 2020, Trogrlic-Iverson showed improvement in his four starts, with a 3.80 ERA. He fanned 20 and issued just three free passes in 21 1/3 innings.

Even prior to the draft, Baseball America ranked Trogrlic-Iverson no. 25 among all draft-eligible college seniors.

Nick Trogrlic-Iverson (Gonzaga University)

Blake Newberry’s scouting report

Trogrlic-Iverson has been a teammate of Mac Lardner, another undrafted free agent signee of the Cardinals. However, unlike Lardner, Trogrlic-Iverson does not have a strong track record of collegiate success once he transferred to Gonzaga.

Despite this, the Cardinals must think that he has projectability left, and that with a few tweaks he can be a successful pitcher. He fits the mold of what the organization has been looking for in pitchers in recent years, as he may not have massive size, but he has athleticism on the mound.

Trogrlic-Iverson throws a low-90s fastball with good movement as well as a curveball, slider, and changeup. This is a solid mix and the right-hander is capable of using it to throw strikes consistently. What is missing with Trogrlic-Iverson is a bit of polish on his secondary pitches.

His slider occasionally looks like a plus pitch, but he is not always able to get sharp break on it. If he could refine this pitch,  it could be a true plus offering. Even now, when he has a good feel for it, he is able to generate plenty of swings and misses.

His fastball has plenty of late arm-side run which adds deception to it and makes it a solid offering even though it tops out around 94 miles per hour. Additionally, he has a pretty decent change-up with late life that can catch some hitters off balance. His curveball is a work in progress and seems to lag behind his other three pitches. It gets some movement, but the break is not nearly as sharp as it is on his slider. This pitch will need some work, but he can at least throw it for strikes. This four-pitch mix gives him a chance to stick as a starter, especially if he can add a few ticks to his fastball and refine his slider. However, if he is struggling in the rotation then he could move to the bullpen with his two primary pitches a fastball and a slider with the occasional change-up.

In terms of mechanics, the right-hander does not have a high effort delivery which allows it to be consistent and repeatable. During his windup, he never looks away from plate which allows him to really find his spot and attack it.

One of the more noticeable parts of Trogrlic-Iverson’s delivery is his stride toward the plate. His glove arm reaches toward the third base line and then comes back across his body and towards the plate. It looks similar to Madison Bumgarner, though not as extreme. This may cause him to have problems have problems hitting his spots occasionally, although there are ways to control it. As long as this does not throw off his direction toward the plate, he should still be able to command his pitches, and he does a pretty good job of staying on line with the plate.

Another noticeable thing about Trogrlic-Iverson is that he stands on the first base side of the rubber, but then strides towards the middle of the mound. This may cause him to fight his own body a little bit. If he could place his stride directly in front of his back foot, then he would allow his body to open up more which would prevent him from throwing across his body. This may add a little more velocity to his fastball as well as enable him to spin his pitches better. This would only require a slight adjustment as his front foot is not too far off line from his back foot.

However, he seems like the classic Cardinals ‘undersized’, athletic pitcher with more pitchabiity than pure stuff.


Your authors

TCN analyst Blake Newberry wrote the player capsules and Brian Walton filled in the rest.


For more

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.


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