photo: Pedro Pages (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
Born: 9/17/1998 (22)
Hits / Throws: R/R
Acquired: 2019 Draft – 6th round (185th overall)
Rule 5 Eligible: 2022
Click on the above photo to be taken to his player page at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biography and history information.
2021 individual rankings – Brian Walton #31, Matt Thompson #43
Prior top 50 rankings – 2020 #43
Matt Thompson’s scouting report
Physical Description: Thick-bodied catcher with a high motor and leadership traits. Speaks fluent English and Spanish, leads by example. Some legit concerns about the body. Very soft.
Hit: Active hands, holds them at ear level. Uses double toe-tap as timing mechanism. Lets the ball travel and attacks with very level swing. Very pull heavy, line drive oriented cut. Grade: 45
Power: Not a lot of power despite the big frame. Swing doesn’t create natural loft. Gap-to-gap line drives are his game. Not a strong enough defender presently to make up for lack of power. Grade: 40
Field: Above-average overall defender behind the plate according to everything I’ve been able to find. One of the players I’m putting on my priority list to see more of when baseball resumes. Grade: 55
Arm: Threw out 40% of potential base stealers. Fantastic mark for his professional debut. Quick feet for size. Grade: 55
Run: Well below-average runner. Grade: 30
Overall: It’s hard to project Pages as anything other than a defense-first backup catcher due to his hit and power tools both being below-average, and the body concerns make it unlikely that he can catch every day. He handles a staff very well and has many positive leadership traits, which is ideal for a catcher. I view him as an up and down piece until he finds another gear on offense.
Future Value: 35
Role: Up/Down Emergency Depth
Brian Walton’s environmental impact report
Let’s start with the correct way to speak our subject’s last name. In the Spanish language, “g” is pronounced “h”. That makes his surname, “PAH-hays”.
It is only fitting that the Cardinals’ earliest-drafted collegiate hitter in 2019 went on to be their best first-year batter.
In fact, among all Cardinals minor leaguers in 2019, Pages was fourth in on-base percentage (.398). Further, he placed in the top 10 in the New York-Penn League in all four slash categories (BA, OBP, SLG, OPS) as well as in doubles.
At State College, Pages’ Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) was 149, or 49% above the NYPL average hitter. That compares very favorably to the last notable college catcher drafted by the Cardinals. In his first season as a professional, in 2016, Andrew Knizner delivered a wRC+ of 156, but he started one level lower – at Johnson City. Knizner was a seventh-rounder.
Continuing the initial season direct comparison, Pages had both a higher walk rate (by four percent) and a higher strikeout rate (by eight percent). Knizner had the edge in ISO (isolated power), .173 to .140, indicating one area of potential concern/growth opportunity for Pages.
Another positive is that Pages did not celebrate his 21st birthday until mid-September, after State College’s season concluded. Knizner played his first professional season a year older, at the age of 21.
I am not suggesting that Pages will be the next Knizner, but at this point, I am also not ready to limit his ceiling to be an up and down player.
2020 recap – Assignments
- January instructional camp – yes
- St. Louis’ spring training camp – no
- St. Louis Summer Camp – no
- Springfield alternate camp – yes (late addition)
- St. Louis – no
While this list of assignments may not look particularly impressive, step back and reconsider it in the context of a player who had just been drafted in the sixth round the previous June.
Inclusion in instructional camp was to be expected and putting him in big league camp would not have made any sense. Still, the fact he was called in during August to join the alternate camp and 60-man player pool was a recognition of how well Pages is thought of by the player development staff.
I expect Pages will be among the bevy of backstops who will receive non-roster invitations to St. Louis’ 2021 spring training. Further, I predict he will not depart for minor league camp in the first wave of cuts.
The pecking order in the catching position in the organization has thinned out a bit with the departure of free agent Jose Godoy and the presumed promotion of Andrew Knizner to St. Louis.
Beyond the aforementioned pair and Pages, Julio Rodriguez and Ivan Herrera were the only other catchers in alternate camp this past summer. The latter two prospects could carry the every-day catching load at Memphis and Springfield, respectively. Pages is seemingly well-positioned to grab the job at High-A, despite no time in full-season Class A, assuming he looks good in spring camp.
This is another player about whom Matt and I are not in total agreement. I felt Pages’ professional introduction at short-season Class A State College was solid, both defensively and offensively.
He hit for average (.291) and has a good eye at the plate, as evidenced by a 23-game on-base streak. Granted, the power was the weakest part of his game, yet 17 doubles in 179 at-bats shows some promise. His strikeout rate was a good 18.2% and his walk rate of 13.1% was strong. A concern might be his .355 BABIP.
OK, it would have been even better had Pages put up those numbers at Peoria instead, but I like what I saw from him in his rookie year against an appropriate level of competition. .
Having said that, there is a lot of work to be done before he enters the St. Louis picture. Even if Pages can make the jump to High-A to open 2021, a year at each level from here on forward would not be unusual. I could see maybe a late season 2023 MLB debut as an injury replacement.
In between, we will acquire much more data to make a better assessment as to Pages’ career ceiling.
MLB debut: 2023
Our 2021 Top 50 series continues
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