Last offseason, the Cardinals added RHP Freddy Pacheco to the 40-man roster. Despite being healthy and pitching very well, he did not get an opportunity to debut in 2022, which was disappointing. He was the only Rule-5 protected Cardinal that did not see MLB playing time in 2022, as Brendan Donovan and Jake Walsh each made appearances. Heading into the season, it felt like he was ready to contribute at the big league level, but the Cardinals chose to keep him in the minors. 


In 2021, Pacheco threw 54 innings across three levels (A+, AA, AAA) and struck out 95 batters for an outstanding 15.8 K/9. Edwin Diaz was the only qualified reliever in the MLB last year with a higher K/9. Pacheco’s biggest drawback is that he walks hitters at an above-average clip. In 2021, he walked 29 batters which resulted in a 4.8 BB/9. Even though the walk rate isn’t where it needs to be, Pacheco allowed one less hit that season than walks, which is ridiculous. Hitters slashed .151/.269/.290 (.559 OPS) against Pacheco in 2021. The Venezuelan fireballer finished the 2021 season with a respectable 3.67 ERA. Pacheco pitched exceptionally in limited time at AA and AAA in 2021, but the Cardinals chose to start him off at AA for the 2022 season. 


Freddy Pacheco’s 2022 stats (AA and AAA):

MiLB Avg26.80%27.00%27.50%0.313

In 2022, Pacheco set a career-high in IP with 62 while also setting a career-low 3.05 ERA since rookie ball. As previously mentioned he started the season at Springfield (AA) and pitched to a 3.81 ERA in 28.1 IP. His ERA was higher due to giving up more home-runs. Pacheco gives up a lot of fly balls, and with the Texas League being a hitter-friendly league, his HR/FB ratio suffered. Pacheco still owned a K/9 over 13 at AA while limiting hitters to a .208 AVG. The Venezuelan fireballer was even better after getting promoted to Memphis (AAA). The right-hander put up a 2.41 ERA while limiting batters to a hilarious .145/.237./.205 (.442 OPS) slash line. I’ve mentioned several times how Pacheco’s biggest concern is the walk rate; well, in 33.2 IP at AAA last year, he only walked 12 batters which is good for a respectable 3.21 BB/9. The RHP did not strike out nearly as many batters but still had an 11.5 K/9 at AAA. Pacheco’s underlying data was also fantastic in 2022. The right-hander pitched to a combined .244 xwOBA and 29.7 CSW% between AA and AAA last year. Let’s take a look at why Pacheco is able to get these results. 


Freddy Pacheco’s Four-seam fastball (FF):


Freddy Pacheco’s FF (Four-seam fastball) is nothing short of elite. On the 20-80 scouting scale, it’s a true 70-grade pitch. Pacheco last year averaged 96.6 mph on his fastball while generating 20.2 IVB from around a 6′ vertical release point. That gives Pacheco a fastball with above-average rise that hitters struggle to hit. Pacheco threw his fastball over 70% of the time in 2022, and hitters only produced a .265 xwOBA against it. 


Gif Credit: @kyler416


Freddy Pacheco’s Slider (SL):


Pacheco’s second most used offering (26.3% usage) was his gyro-slider. The right-hander averaged 84.5 mph on it with -3.1 inches of HB and 0.3 IVB. Between his FF and SL, there are 10.5 inches of horizontal separation, so the pitches tunnel exceptionally. His slider is still an above-average offering in a vacuum, but it played up due to the fantastic FF. Pacheco would greatly benefit by working on a changeup as it would improve his arsenal against OHB (Opposite Hand Batters). His Whiff% saw a 9.5% decrease when facing left-handed batters compared to righties, contributing to the 6.5% CSW% advantage he saw vs. SHB (Same Hand Batters) compared to OHB. His two-pitch mix will work well in the pen, but Pacheco would greatly benefit from a usable changeup. 


Gif Credit: @kyler416


Freddy Pacheco is going to have a significant impact on the 2023 Cardinals, more than likely. Outside of Helsley and Gallegos, the Cardinals could use another dominant strikeout pitcher in the bullpen, and I envision Freddy Pacheco being that. Cardinals fans have gotten used to a fastball Freddy in Milwaukee, but they’ll have their own in 2023.


Written by KareemSSN and Jacob E