photo: Juan Yepez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
Juan Yepez joined the St. Louis Cardinals organization from the Atlanta Braves in return for Matt Adams in May 2017, but languished for several years at Class-A. While his power potential was always there, it was unrealized until his dominant 2021 with three teams. His major upward trend began after he posted a mediocre .673 OPS in his first look at Double-A in 2019.
In 2021, The Venezuelan native was successful at Double-A Springfield for the first month and kept it up following his promotion to Triple-A Memphis on June 1. By the end of the season, Yepez led all of Triple-A in OPS and was named the East Division All-Star first baseman.
He began 2021 by hitting five long balls the first month at Double-A Springfield. With the Redbirds, the corner infielder/outfielder blasted 22 more out of the park, with his total of 27 leading the entire Cardinals system for the season.
Yepez also paced the organization with his 29 doubles, 77 RBI, .586 slugging and .959 OPS. The 23-year-old was rewarded with selection by St. Louis for the Wild Card Game, though he did not play in the loss to the Dodgers. He concluded his whirlwind year by playing in the Arizona Fall League prospect showcase, where he was named co-Hitter of the Year.
Yepez’ many honors in 2021 included the consensus (per the Cardinals organization and The Cardinal Nation) system-wide Player of the Month for the month of August. Not only was he named The Cardinal Nation’s Memphis Player of Year, he also picked up the same honors for the entire system in 2021. While the Cardinals organization has not announced its similar honors, anyone but Yepez would be a travesty.
Though defense is not Yepez’ forte, his bat is MLB-ready. With the expected return of the designated hitter to the National League, the top emerging player in the system in 2021 is positioned well to secure meaningful playing time with St. Louis in 2022.
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