Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Your 2022 St. Louis Cardinals, More or Less

No thanks to Topps, here are a bunch of 2022 Cardinals players on baseball cards. 
Have you happened to notice that our good friends at Fanatics are a little... behind? Topps Chrome just dropped recently, and it was basically just shiny Series 1, which featured players in their 2021 uniforms. If you're looking for something a little more current from The Topps Company, you might have to go with Topps Fire or one of those other little niche sets that aren't produced in large quantities, because I don't even expect Topps Update to be "updating" much of anything.

The best place to catch some new (and new-ish) Cardinals turned out to be the 2022 Choice Memphis Redbirds set. By my count, this features a whopping 15 players who played for the big league Birds in 2022, including several who should have appeared in 2022 Topps sets but likely won't. The burly Alec Burleson and the speedy Ben DeLuzio were late season call-ups, so they wouldn't have likely shown up on Topps cards this year under different conditions. Who can even say what happens next year?

Brendan Donovan will get a lot of NL Rookie of the Year votes, but is expected to ultimately fall somewhere behind a pair of Atlanta stars. He's been with the team since Opening Day, so he should have been in Series Two.

Conner Capel came over to the St. Louis organization as part of the Oscar Mercado trade several years back. He had a cup of coffee with the Cards before ultimately being waived in a roster crunch and catching on with Oakland.

Ivan Herrera has served as the Cardinals third string catcher this year, and he got the call when Yadier Molina missed some time. It remains to be seen if he can challenge for at least a portion of the catching job next season.

Junior Fernandez has been in Topps big league sets since 2020. He seemed to have finally put it together earlier this season only to lose his grip on whatever it is that pitchers get (or don't get.) He was perhaps the highest profile roster crunch casualty this year and was immediately snatched up by the Pirates as they are wont to do.

James Naile was a career minor leaguer who finally had a chance to make his big league debut (in front of his parents) earlier this season. It was charming.

Johan Oviedo actually made his big league debut during the weird excuse for a season we call 2020 and was a Topps rookie in 2021 sets. He was part of the trade deadline deal with Pittsburgh that brought over Jose Quintana and Chris Stratton.

Jake Walsh debuted in May and made 3 appearances out of the pen before being demoted again. He seems like the exact type of player who would end up as a 2023 Series One rookie even if he's in another organization by then. Walsh is wearing a Memphis Chicks throwback here, which is a bit disconcerting because they were never a Cardinals affiliate.

Juan Yepez actually made it into the 2022 Topps cycle (in Series Two!) He did not appear with the big league club until this season, but was added to the active roster for the dreaded Wild Card game last fall, which must have put him on their radar. He had a nice run in the first couple of months of the season, but lost playing time to some old guy named Albert.

Robertson was called up earlier this season and made two appearances (only one plate appearance) before being waived and claimed numerous times, ultimately ending up back with the Memphis Redbirds. He's another strong candidate for 2023 Series One rookie.

The young Liberatore made his debut this season and started 6 games, but hasn't really impressed at any level so far in 2022. Let's hope for bigger and brighter things for him. 

Along with Liberatore, the other top prospect to get the call this year was Nolan Gorman. His Topps Now cards were adorned with the "Call Up" logo instead of the "RC" logo, meaning that he's being shelved until 2023. He's got a ton of power but is still working on that whole strikeout thing. At least, I hope that he is.

Cory Spangenberg has a significant amount of major league experience and was brought to the Cardinals organization for depth purposes, I'm assuming. He did get into one game with St. Louis this season but did not make a plate appearance.

Zack Thompson was a first round pick just three years ago and has taken over as the Cards primary lefty reliever late in the season.

As always, it was fun to pick up another minor league team set. I'm glad they are still making them.

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