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2010 Draft Preview – St. Louis Cardinals

The twenty-third part of my draft preview series is on the St. Louis Cardinals and their scouting director Jeff Luhnow.

Owner: Bill DeWitt, bought club in 1995
General Manager: John Mozeliak, first season was 2008
Scouting Director: Jeff Luhnow, first draft was 2005

Looking Back

2005 Draft: $5.6 Million Budget

1. Colby Rasmus, OF, Russell County HS (AL), #28 Overall: Rasmus was a solid first-round prospect that the Cardinals were lucky to get at the end of that round. He featured average to plus tools in all five categories, and he had a winning track record. Excellent first pick for Luhnow. Following players selected: Jacob Marceaux, Tyler Greene, Matt Torra. Signing bonus: $1,000,000.
2. Tyler Greene, SS, Georgia Tech, #30 Overall: Greene was more of a supplemental first round to third round prospect, as he was a utility infielder to some scouts due to his weak bat. He featured an above-average glove, though, and this pick was solid enough, though Greene got more money than Rasmus. Following players selected: Matt Torra, Chaz Roe, John Drennen. Signing bonus: $1,100,000.
3. Mark McCormick, RHP, Baylor, #43 Overall: McCormick was almost universally considered a first round arm, and he might have had the best pure arm in the entire draft. He had a plus-plus fastball and a decent curve, but he had below-average command and a Boras connection. Following players selected: Sean West, Jed Lowrie, Tyler Herron. Signing bonus: $800,000.
4. Tyler Herron, RHP, Wellington Community HS (FL), #46 Overall: Herron was a fairly polished prep arm that featured an average to above-average fastball and a plus curveball. He was expected to go in the supplemental first round to the third round. Following players selected: Michael Bowden, Garrett Olson, Matt Green. Signing bonus: $675,000.
5. Josh Wilson, RHP, Whitehouse HS (TX), #70 Overall: Wilson had a rough spring, losing stuff and getting hit harder than expected, though some teams still like his projectable frame and stuff from the previous fall. He looked more like a 3rd-5th round prospect than the second-rounder he became. Following players selected: P.J. Phillips, Ralph Henriquez, Kevin Slowey. Signing bonus: $515,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Daryl Jones (3rd), Spring HS (TX), $450K bonus; C Bryan Anderson (4th), Simi Valley HS (CA), $250K bonus; RHP Mitch Boggs (5th), Georgia, $150K bonus; LHP Jamie Garcia (22nd), Mission HS (TX).

2006 Draft: $5.3 Million Budget

1. Adam Ottovino, RHP, Northeastern, #30 Overall: Ottavino was an excellent college arm, and though he came from a smaller cold-weather school, he had flashed dominance against more advanced hitters whenever he faced them. He looked like a solid first-round arm. Following players selected: Preston Mattingly, Pedro Beato, Emmanuel Burriss. Signing bonus: $950,000.
2. Chris Perez, RHP, Miami, #42 Overall: Perez was one of the best college relievers available in the 2006 class, and he featured a pair of excellent pitches. He had a plus fastball and plus slider, and he was expected to go within the first couple of rounds. Following players selected: Steve Evarts, Caleb Clay, Jason Taylor. Signing bonus: $800,000.
3. Brad Furnish, LHP, TCU, #54 Overall: Furnish was a solid college lefty that lacked much upside. He featured a solid-average fastball with a solid-average curveball, and he was expected to go somewhere in the 3rd-6th round range, making this a pick made slightly early. Following players selected: Brett Anderson, Steven Wright, Josh Rodriguez. Signing bonus: $600,000.
4. Jon Jay, OF, Miami, #74 Overall: Jay was a solid all-around prospect, though he wasn’t really good at anything. He had average to below-average tools all the way around, and while he was built for center field, he lacked the range to stay there as a pro. He looked more like a 3rd-5th round prospect. Following players selected: Matt McBride, Mark Hamilton, Blake Wood. Signing bonus: $480,000.
5. Mark Hamilton, 1B, Tulane, #76 Overall: This was back in the day when there was a supplemental second round. Hamilton had plus raw power and a solid bat, but he was lacking in athleticism, and he was surely stuck at first base in the long term. He was supposed to go right in this range, though. Following players selected: Blake Wood, Keith Weiser, Nick Fuller. Signing bonus: $465,000.
Other Notable Selections: SS Allen Craig (8th), California, $15K bonus.

2007 Draft: $4.6 Million Budget

1. Pete Kozma, SS, Owasso HS (OK), #18 Overall: Kozma slowly rose up draft boards in the spring of 2007, using big production to continually impress scouts. He wasn’t the most gifted athlete, but he was average to above-average in all his tools, and most teams thought he was a solid first-round prep shortstop. Following players selected: Joe Savery, Chris Withrow, J.P. Arencibia. Signing bonus: $1,395,000.
2. Clayton Mortensen, RHP, Gonzaga, #36 Overall: Mortensen was a very surprising pick, as he was a senior prospect that looked more like a 3rd-5th round prospect. He features a solid arsenal, but not much upside above a back of the rotation starting option. Following players selected: Travis d’Arnaud, Brett Cecil, James Adkins. Signing bonus: $650,000.
3. David Kopp, RHP, Clemson, #71 Overall: Kopp was a solid second-round option as a college starter with good upside remaining. He featured a borderline plus fastball and a good slider, making him a more attractive than Mortensen to quite a few scouts. Following players selected: Brian Rike, Barry Enright, Grant Desme. Signing bonus: $459,000.
4. Jess Todd, RHP, Arkansas, #82 Overall: Todd was a college starter that best profiled as a high-end reliever at the next level. He had true closer’s stuff, featuring a solid fastball/slider combo. He was expected to go in the 2nd-4th round range, making this a solid pick. Following players selected: Travis Mattair, Hunter Morris, John Tolisano. Signing bonus: $400,000.
5. Daniel Descalso, 3B, UC Davis, #112 Overall: Descalso was a pick on the level of the Mortensen pick, as it surprised most analysts. He was seen as more of a 7th-10th round prospect, featuring some raw power, but he wasn’t an attractive athletic fielder. Following players selected: Matt Spencer, Brock Huntzinger, Alan Farina. Signing bonus: $255,000.
Other Notable Selections: 1B Steven Hill (13th), Stephen F. Austin.

2008 Draft: $5.5 Million Budget

1. Brett Wallace, 1B, Arizona State, #13 Overall: Wallace was considered an all-bat college hitter with a plus hit tool and plus raw power. He was a third base prospect in college, and he was expected to be given a shot there in the pros. This was right around his expected draft slot. Following players selected: Aaron Hicks, Ethan Martin, Brett Lawrie. Signing bonus: $1,840,000.
2. Lance Lynn, RHP, Ole Miss, #39 Overall: Lynn was a big college starter that was expected to turn into a back-end starter that could eat up innings. He was expected to go a round or three later, but the Cardinals called his name earlier, because they believed his natural stuff could make him much better than his individual pitches. Following players selected: Brett DeVall, Ryan Flaherty, Jaff Decker. Signing bonus: $938,000.
3. Shane Peterson, OF, Long Beach State, #59 Overall: Peterson was considered a good-hitting prospect that would go in the top three rounds. He put up gaudy numbers in college, and his hit and power tools were above-average. He wasn’t very athletic, but was considered passable in the outfield. Following players selected: Tyler Ladendorf, Josh Lindblom, Cody Adams. Signing bonus: $683,000.
4. Niko Vasquez, SS, Durango HS (NV), 91 Overall: Vasquez was a bit of an inconsistent draft prospect, but he flashed a plus hit tool when at his best. His fielding at shortstop was below-average, but he was expected to be able to handle second base at the pro level. This was right around where he was expected to go. Following players selected: Bobby Lanigan, Kyle Russell, Logan Schafer. Signing bonus: $423,000.
5. Scott Gorgen, RHP, UC Irvine, #125 Overall: Gorgen absolutely cominated college competition, but like Lynn, Gorgen featured very little future projection above a back of the rotation ceiling. He was expected to go in the third to sixth round range, and the Cardinals made him their fourth round pick. Following players selected: Danny Ortiz, Dee Gordon, Josh Romanski. Signing bonus: $250,000.
Other Notable Selections: None.

2009 Draft: $5.4 Million Budget

1. Shelby Miller, RHP, Brownwood HS (TX), #19 Overall: Miller competed with Jacob Turner for the most powerful raw arm in the entire 2009 draft class. He featured a plus-plus fastball, and his ceiling was a true number one starter. He was expected to go a few slots earlier, and the Cardinals got a steal. Following players selected: Chad Jenkins, Jiovanni  Mier, Kyle Gibson. Signing bonus: $2,875,000.
2. Robert Stock, C, USC, #67 Overall: Stock was a better pitching prospect in college, and some scouts were frustrated by Stock’s inconsistency at the plate. He featured a plus arm behind the plate, though, and he was expected to be a solid catching prospect drafted in the top three rounds. Following players selected: Jake Eliopoulos, Tanner Bushue, Billy Bullock. Signing bonus: $525,000.
3. Joe Kelly, RHP, UC Riverside, #98 Overall: Kelly was in the same conversation with Drew Storen and Billy Bullock as the best college relievers in the 2009 class for quite awhile. He had a setup man’s ceiling, and he was expected to go in the second to fifth round range to a team that believed he might have a bit more in his arm. Following players selected: Jake Barrett, Telvin Nash, Ben Tootle. Signing bonus: $341,000.
4. Scott Bittle, RHP, Ole Miss, #129 Overall: Bittle went unsigned as a second-round pick of the Yankees after his junior year, and shoulder woes plagued his draft stock, though he was dominating on the mound when healthy. He could have gone anywhere in the third to sixth round range to teams that believed they could keep him healthy and unhittable. Following players selected: Ryan Goins, B.J. Hyatt, Derek McCallum. Signing bonus: $75,000.
5. Ryan Jackson, SS, Miami, #159 Overall: Jackson was an all-glove shortstop from Miami whose draft stock plummeted during a rough junior campaign. His hitting was considered below-average, and he had utility infielder skills, and he could have gone anywhere from the fourth to seventh rounds. Following players selected: Ryan Schimpf, Brandon Wikoff, Tobias Streich. Signing bonus: $157,500.
Other Notable Selections: None.

Jeff Luhnow is one of only a few scouting directors around baseball that also handle the player development department at the same time. This means that Luhnow is now solely responsible for prospects within the Cardinals’ organization, from drafting them to getting them to the Major Leagues. Needless to say, that’s a lot of pressure. The great thing about Jeff Luhnow is that he uses Twitter, and you can know where he is at times, though he hasn’t updated since last Monday. We’ll see if he sticks to that through the spring draft season. I, for one, would love to see what comes of that account. He has run five drafts with the Cardinals so far, and it would be interesting to see some form of public interest in his sixth. Looking at the trends from his first five years, I think you can see a specific Cardinal style of drafting and development. On the hitting side of things, it’s pretty obvious that he prefers players with good defensive value. Stock and Jackson were both considered questionable bats when they were picked a year ago, though no one doubted their defensive tools. That’s been fairly universal throughout the drafts that Luhnow has run, and I think it’s an interesting philosophy. He hasn’t shown a solid preference for prep or college bats, though he does like the solid college bats with some pop in there. That’s a pretty solid philosophy, though he’s been fine with going after up the middle prep bats, too, such as Kozma, Vasquez, and Rasmus. On the pitching side of things, he has shown a general preference for finished products with solid secondary stuff. This has led to more collegiate picks than prep picks, but he was quick to jump on the Shelby Miller train last June when he fell down to the Cards at the 19th pick. Generally, though, Luhnow greatly prefers college arms with durability and developed secondary stuff. These are general trends, and Luhnow has shown a willingness to go almost anywhere for talent.

In terms of draft budgeting, the Cardinals have been fairly middle of the road since Luhnow started drafting in 2005. Over those five years, they come in 18th for draft spending, and they’ve been very consistent with their spending over that time, always spending between $4.6 million and $5.6 million. They’ve never drafted higher than the 13th overall slot in 2008, when they picked Brett Wallace, so that probably has something to do with it, though the Red Sox have proven that you can still spend at the bottom of each round. However, the Cardinals have chosen to be reasonably conservative with their spending, and that has worked sometimes, though not consistently through their drafts under Luhnow. This year they hold picks 25, 46, 50, 75, 106, 139, and every 30 picks after that. They gained a pair of supplemental first round picks for Mark DeRosa and Joel Pineiro, and that’s generally been the norm for their drafts, as they usually have extra picks. They’ve still spent in that range anyway, so I’d expect another $5-5.5 million budget this year. That should come in somewhere in the 15-20 range when ranking spending for 2010.

Connecting the Cardinals to some players, I have them taking former University of Kentucky pitcher James Paxton in my latest mock draft, followed by Gary Brown and Michael Choice, a pair of college outfielders, one with burner speed and the other with plus raw power. These all make general sense, though Choice is more questionable, since his defensive value is less than the normal St. Louis draftee. Other options in that area could include Rick Hague, Chad Bettis, Brandon Workman, and Jarrett Parker. Later options that I have sort of connected as potential Cardinal draftees include Tyler Holt, Kolbrin Vitek, Rob Rasmussen, Josh Mueller, Pat Dean, and Tyler Cannon, all collegiate players. I haven’t seen any prep player that I can specifically link to the Cardinals yet, as they don’t have a specific player beyond the first round that they particularly go towards, but there isn’t a fear of prep players in the Cardinal organization. The Cardinals have one of the weaker farm systems in the league this year, and a solid draft would go a long way towards rebuilding a great franchise. This year is critical on this path, and Luhnow has a lot of pressure to do well this year, as almost all players in the system are now his draftees, and we’re coming towards a breaking point for Luhnow’s job security if things don’t move forward from here.

*Bonus information came from BA.

What do you guys think?  What will the Cardinals do?

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March 4, 2010 - Posted by | Draft Previews

1 Comment »

  1. As a Cards fan I have watched their draft very closely for a few years now. I think you nailed it in a few realms. First we definitely focus on college arms that have show success but might not have the upside as others. We also like hitters that project as solid defensive players and hopefully their hitting comes around. That has been hit or miss. Another thing we do very well is find power arms for later inning relief. We are always loaded with back of the bullpen guys in our system. Looking at these drafts back-to-back-to-back like this is nice. We have had better overall drafts than I thought. We have found some talent later in the drafts in recent time. Jones, Garcia, Boggs and Anderson makes our ’05 draft look much better than I thought due to some misses earlier in the draft. Obviously Rasmus makes that draft look solid too!

    We need high upside type guys and with so many picks early on we will have some opportunities to do just that. Some guys I like for earlier picks: Brentz, Pomerantz, Allie, Wilson, Workman, Colon, Paxton, Wimmers, Parker, Dyson, Choice, Sale, Harvey (take the gamble on him in the 2nd or 3rd), Holt and Spence (I like him alot for a 3rd)

    I must also say that outside of the top 20 or 30 High school prospects I don’t know much about the rest of them. So there might be some more attractive HS players for the 1S, 2nd and 3rd rounds.

    Comment by JC | March 4, 2010 | Reply


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