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St. Louis Cardinals Prospect No. 7: Juan Yepez, 1B/DH

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St. Louis Cardinals beat the Houston Astros 4-2 in first game of spring training in Jupiter

Cardinals infielder Juan Yepez (36) fields a ball hit by Houston Astros non-roster infielder J. J. Matijevic (82) during the fourth inning of the Cardinals first game of spring training, on Friday, March 18, 2022, at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Bats/Throws: R/R

Height/Weight: 6-1,200

Age: 23

Acquired: Trade May 2017 (Atlanta)

In 2021: .286/.383/.586, .969 OPS, 27 HR, 77 RBIs, 29 2B (Class AA, AAA)

Scouting Report: When Atlanta, scrambling for a first baseman due to Freddie Freeman’s injury, came calling for Matt Adams almost five years ago, the Cardinals scanned the Braves’ lower minors for a suitable exchange. He spotted a righthanded-hitting corner infielder with a .697 OPS and one homer. Another number caught their eye: 19. One of the youngest players at the level, Yepez wasn’t overwhelmed by it – plus that gave the Cardinals plenty of time to see what they had. The answer: A DH, just as they were looking for one. Coming out of the lost 2020 season, Yepez added muscle, about 20 pounds of size, and increased his strength to see if it unlocked his power. The Venezuelan had 26 homers in his first five pro seasons – and more than doubled that with 27 in 2021. When Class AA could not contain him, the Cardinals promoted Yepez to Memphis, where he hit .290/.382/.589 with 22 homers in 92 games, and then kept swinging at the Arizona Fall League. In 134 games in 2021, Yepez had 37 homers, 74 extra-base hits, and an OPS greater than .950. He mashes fastballs and would be vying for a big-league job off the bench as a late-game counter to high-velocity relievers. With the expected advent of the universal DH, the Cardinals are eager to see if he can win that job (or at least the righthanded half of it) in spring training.

ETA: Opening Day 2022

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