Herrera's contract was selected by the Cardinals on Wednesday. Herrera will join the Cardinals' 40-man roster in order to protect him from the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Even if the team doesn't bring Yadier Molina back during the offseason, the 20-year-old has mainly worked in the lower levels of the minors and is unlikely to be considered for a major-league roster spot in 2021. Herrera slashed .284/.374/.405 with nine home runs and 47 RBI between the Low-A and High-A levels in 2019.
The Cardinals assigned Herrera to their alternate training site in Springfield on Thursday. St. Louis appears content to proceed with veterans Yadier Molina and Matt Wieters as its main catching options on the Opening Day roster, and prospect Andrew Knizner is probably the next man up in the event the Cardinals elect to bring a third backstop aboard. As a result, Herrera finds himself somewhat buried on the organizational depth chart, though the 20-year-old could be a potential successor to Molina down the road. Herrera split time between High-A Palm Beach and Low-A Peoria in 2019, slashing .284/.374/.405 with nine home runs and 47 RBI in 87 games.
Herrera will be a part of the Cardinals' taxi squad this season, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports. Herrera was a part of major-league camp during spring training this year, where he went 2-for-9 over five games before play was suspended. While the 20-year-old is likely viewed as the Cardinals' catcher of the future within the organization, it's unlikely that he'll see significant playing time in the majors this season given his lack of experience above High-A.
Herrera, who hit .222 (2-for-9) across five Grapefruit League games before spring training was suspended, was earmarked for a return to Double-A Springfield at some point in 2020 as the primary catcher, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Herrera won't even turn 20 until June 1, but he's already made a relatively efficient climb up the organizational ladder in his two years of professional ball. Herrera actually logged five plate appearances and two games in Springfield back in 2018, making an experimental jump all the way up from Rookie-level Gulfport. The promising prospect then put in strong stints at both Low-A Peoria and High-A Palm Beach last year, and he generated a .324 average and .821 OPS across 10 contests in the Arizona Fall League as the youngest catcher to receive an invite. Herrera's defensive work is also starting to come along, and despite the presence of Andrew Knizner at Triple-A Memphis, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the team sees Herrera as the heir apparent to Yadier Molina and Knizner more as a potential backup both behind the dish and at first base.
Herrera will join the Cardinals' big-league spring training camp. Herrera could potentially be the Cardinals' catcher of the future, but he won't be in contention for a roster spot this year. Still just 19 years old, he acquitted himself well in full-season ball last year, hitting a combined .284/.374/.405 with Low-A Peoria and High-A Palm Beach.
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