Gomez, Walker, and Graceffo Named 2022 Minor League Co-Players and Pitcher of the Year

ST. LOUIS, Mo., December 13, 2022– The St. Louis Cardinals announced today their 2022 Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year selections, honoring outfielder Moisés Gómez, third baseman/outfielder Jordan Walker and right-handed starting pitcher Gordon Graceffo for their accomplishments on the field.  This marks the second straight year, and the second time overall since the award’s inception in 1995, that co-recipients have been selected for Player of the Year honors.

“We are pleased to recognize Gordon Graceffo, Moisés Gómez, and Jordan Walker as our organizational minor league Pitcher and co-Players of the Year,” said John Mozeliak, Cardinals President of Baseball Operations.  “Jordan and Moisés were standouts at the plate this season, putting up historic offensive numbers while Gordon quickly turned heads with his velocity and command in his first full professional season.  We are proud of how each player competed and developed this season and congratulate them on their numerous accomplishments in 2022.”

Gómez, 24, had a breakout season slashing .294/.371/.624 with 39 home runs, 25 doubles, 94 RBI, 10 stolen bases and a .996 OPS across 120 games between Memphis (AAA) and Springfield (AA).  The Venezuelan native led all Cardinals minor league players in home runs, RBI, extra-base hits (66), total bases (276), slugging and OPS and ranked in the Top 5 in runs (89, 3rd), hits (130, 4th) and doubles (25, T5th).  Gómez’s 39 home runs led all of Minor League Baseball and were the most in a single-season by a Cardinals minor league player since the minor league system was reorganized prior to the 1963 season, surpassing the 37 homers hit by OF Tyrone Horne between Memphis (AAA) and Arkansas (AA) in 1998.

After hitting .321 with 23 home runs, 54 RBI, and a 1.106 OPS in 60 games to start the season at Springfield, Gómez was promoted to Memphis on June 28.  At the time of his promotion, Gómez led the Texas League in homers, RBI, slugging percentage (.705), OPS, extra-base hits (40) and total bases (158), while ranking among league leaders in average (4th), on-base percentage (7th, .401), doubles (T6th, 17) and runs (5th, 53).  He continued to put up solid numbers in his first stint at the Triple-A level, hitting .266 with 16 home runs, 40 RBI, and a .882 OPS in 60 games.  He was named the Cardinals April Minor League Player of the Month and the Texas League April Player of the Month.

Following the season, Gómez was named the 2022 Texas League MVP and a Texas League All-Star, becoming the fourth player in Springfield Cardinals history to capture the league’s Player of the Year award, joining OF Dylan Carlson (2019), OF Oscar Taveras (2012), and 1B Matt Adams (2011).  In addition to being the 2022 MiLB Home Run King, he finished the season ranked among all minor leaguers in slugging (2nd), OPS (6th), and total bases (T6th).

Gómez is the sixth Latin-born Cardinals minor leaguer to win Player of the Year honors, joining 1B/OF Juan Yepez (2021), OF Magneuris Sierra (2014), OF Oscar Taveras (2012), 3B Albert Pujols (2000) and SS Pablo Ozuna (1998).  He was signed as a minor league free agent in November 2021 after spending seven seasons in the Tampa Bay minor league system and joins 1B/OF Juan Yepez (2021) and OF Tyler O’Neill (2018) as only the third Cardinals minor leaguer who was not originally drafted or signed by the club to win the award.  Entering 2023, Baseball America named him as the organization’s “Best Power Hitter” in their Best Tools Survey.

Walker, 20, slashed .306/.388/.510 with 19 home runs, 31 doubles, 22 stolen bases, 100 runs, 68 RBI and a .898 OPS across 119 games for Springfield (AA).  The club’s top prospect and Baseball America’s seventh overall prospect ranked among Cardinals minor league leaders in batting average (3rd), on-base percentage (9th), slugging (7th), OPS (7th), hits (141, T2nd), extra-base hits (53, 3rd), home runs (5th), doubles (T3rd), total bases (235, 2nd), runs (1st) and stolen bases (T5th).  Walker’s 100 runs scored led all Texas League players, set a Springfield franchise record and were the most in a single-season by a Cardinals minor league player since 1998.

At just 19 years old, Walker opened the 2022 season as the youngest player in the Texas League and was one of only two teenagers on an Opening Day Double-A roster.  He finished the season one homer shy of authoring Springfield’s first 20 HR/20 SB season in team history.  After manning the hot corner for the first 80 games of the season, Walker started exclusively across all three outfield positions over his final 39 games, registering an impressive 10 assists.  Following the season, Walker was named the 2022 Texas League Top MLB Prospect and a Texas League All-Star and was selected as the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America.

Walker was selected to the 2022 MLB All-Star Futures Game where he batted fourth and started at third base.  He also represented the Cardinals in the 2022 Arizona Fall League, earned a selection to the AFL Fall Stars Game and was one of three outfielders named to the All-AFL Team after slashing .286/.367/.558 with five home runs, six doubles, three stolen bases, 17 runs, 16 RBI and a .925 OPS across 21 games for the Salt River Rafters.

Walker is the third Cardinals minor leaguer to win back-to-back Player of the Year honors joining 1B John Gall (2002-03) and former top prospect OF Colby Rasmus (2006-07).  Entering 2023, Baseball America ranked him as the organization’s top overall prospect for the second consecutive season and named him as having the “Best Outfield Arm” in their Best Tools Survey.

“Congratulations to both Jordan Walker and Moisés Gómez, selected as our 2022 co-Players of the Year,” said Director of Player Development & Assistant General Manager, Gary LaRocque.  “Both Jordan and Moisés turned in outstanding seasons in Springfield with Jordan selected as the Texas League All-Star at 3B and voted the Top Prospect in the Texas League.  Moisés earned All-Star honors as the DH and was voted the Texas League MVP for 2022 before his promotion to Memphis in late June.”

Graceffo, 22, finished his first full professional season with a 10-6 record and a 2.97 ERA with 139 strikeouts and a 0.94 WHIP across 26 starts (139.1 IP) split between Springfield (AA) and Peoria (High-A).  The 6’4” right-hander ranked among all Cardinals minor league pitchers in wins (2nd), strikeouts (4th), ERA (4th), WHIP (2nd), innings (4th), games started (T2nd), opponents average (.202, 8th) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.96, 3rd).

After posting a 0.99 ERA with 56 strikeouts to just four walks in 45.2 innings across eight starts (five quality) at Peoria to begin the season, Gordon was promoted to Springfield on May 23.  At the time of his promotion, Graceffo led all qualified High-A pitchers in ERA, WHIP (0.68) and ranked second in innings and fifth in strikeouts.  He continued his strong start at Double-A, winning five of his first nine games with Springfield and tallying a 3.21 ERA.

Graceffo was named the Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April, posting a 2-0 record with a 0.83 ERA in four starts.  He won the award again in May after posting a 1.45 ERA across five starts, all quality starts, becoming the first Cardinals pitcher to win back-to-back Pitcher of the Month honors since LHP Austin Gomber (August 2017 & April 2018) and first to do so in the same calendar year since LHP Bud Smith (July & August 2000).

“Gordon had an impressive 2022 season, earning a promotion from Peoria to Springfield in May and was productive at both levels, pitching 139.1 innings over 26 starts,” stated LaRocque.

The New Jersey native finished the season strong allowing zero runs and just five hits over his final three starts (16.2 IP), including his final start where he retired the first 17 batters before allowing his only baserunner to earn his 10th win of the season.  For his efforts, he was named Texas League Pitcher of the Month for September.

Drafted by the Cardinals in the 5th round (150th overall) of the 2021 MLB Draft out of Villanova University, Graceffo ended the season ranked as the 66th best overall prospect according to Baseball America.  He enters the 2023 season as the organization’s seventh ranked prospect and second-best right-handed pitching prospect per Baseball America.

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