Ivan Herrera

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Ivan Herrera heads to the dugout after warming up a pitcher during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the New York Mets, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Port S. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(KMOV.com) — Ahead of Friday's deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft, the Cardinals added a prospect to the 40-man roster who could be the team's catcher of the future.

St. Louis selected the contract of Ivan Herrara, a 20-year-old catcher with a quality hit tool and strong defensive makeup, ensuring he will not be exposed to the Rule 5 process. Herrera ranks as the team's No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

The Herrera addition brings the Cardinals 40-man roster to 38. The club will have other important roster decisions prior to the November 20 deadline, as several prospects listed among the club's top 30 by MLB Pipeline's rankings will need to be added to the 40-man roster or risk exposure in the Rule 5 Draft.

Players who signed at 19 years or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Players who signed at 18 and have played for five years are also exposed to the Rule 5 process if left of their team's 40-man roster prior to the deadline.

For the Cardinals this week, that includes prospects Angel Rondon (No. 13), Julio Rodriguez (No. 15), Juan Yepez (No. 24), Roel Ramirez (No. 27) and Alvaro Seijas (No. 30). The Cardinals currently have only two spots available on the 40-man roster, but they may not necessarily protect each of the players on this list.

Taking a closer look at the possibilities, pitchers Ramirez and Seijas were on the team's 40-man roster at points during the 2020 season, but were ultimately exposed to the waiver process and outrighted off the roster. Both players went unclaimed, which could give the Cardinals confidence neither would be selected in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. Ramirez made one appearance for St. Louis last season, notably allowing four consecutive home runs in his MLB debut.

Rondon, 22, is a hard-throwing right-hander with good numbers in the lower levels of the Cardinals minor league system. Rodriguez is another catching prospect who could push for a role with the team in the coming years, while Yepez—who was acquired as a teenager for Matt Adams a few years back—showed some promise across three levels of the minors in 2019.

The Cardinals may have interest in protecting each of these players. If they decide to protect all three, it would mean subtracting from the 40-man elsewhere in order to make space.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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