All posts by Scott Schook

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Eight on Draft Day 2

photo: Mateo Gil (Future Stars Series)

By Scott Schook and Brian Walton

The second day of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, with the St. Louis Cardinals selections being made by scouting director Randy Flores, consists of eight selections in rounds 3-10 on Tuesday, June 5.

Their initial selection is Texas high school shortstop Mateo Gil, son of former MLB shortstop Benji Gil.

Overall, through Day 2, encompassing these eight picks and the three made on Monday, the Cardinals have been allocated $7,968,400 in bonus pool money.

For more

Come back to this article at The Cardinal Nation often on Tuesday as information about all St. Louis’ draft picks will be posted shortly after they are made. Same with rounds 11-40 coming on Wednesday.

As Tuesday progresses from afternoon into evening, this article will be updated as selections are made and information added, so please check back often. All player capsules are written by The Cardinal Nation’s draft analyst Scott Schook.

St. Louis’ selections – 2018 Draft Day 2

Mateo Gil

Third round, 95th overall

SS Mateo Gil
Timber Creek High School, Keller, TX
6’1”, 180 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Commitment: Texas Christian University

The Cardinals continued to load up on the position player side as the Cardinals took another prep infielder with their third-round selection. Gil, a two-way player, flashed some potential on the mound with a fastball that touches 92 mph, but his future looks more certain on the offensive side of the baseball.

Defensively at shortstop, Gil is a smooth and confident defender. He has just average to a tick-above-average speed, but he gets good reads on balls, possesses good rhythm, soft hands, smooth footwork, and has a quick glove-to-hand exchange. As evidenced by his pitching velocity, he has a strong and accurate arm that makes all the plays he needs to make.

Offensively, Gil is just as confident and quiet as he is with the glove. He has a balanced approach at the plate with an easy trigger. He generates gap-to-gap power and could become more as he develops, but he can easily get pull-happy with his swing. All in all, Gil reminds me quite a bit of former Cardinal Stephen Piscotty, except I can see Gil sticking on the infield. As his body matures, a move to third base seems inevitable.

Gil won the District 3-AAAAAA All-District Co-MVP this spring. A Texas kid committed to TCU could be a difficult sign, but the potential is certainly there for him to develop into a solid hitting, plus-defender on the infield.

The pool amount for this pick is $587,600.


Steven Gingery (Texas Tech University)

Fourth round, 123rd overall

LHP Steven Gingery
Texas Tech University, Junior
6’2” 210 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Left

The Cardinals turned back to the college pitching pool by taking a flyer on a player who is recovering from surgery but could be an absolute steal.

MLB.com’s Jim Callis believes Gingery could have been one of the best college pitchers this year had he not fallen to injury after just two innings this season. The left-hander racked up accolades in 2017: Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, College Baseball Foundation’s National Pitcher of the Year, and unanimous First Team All-American. But, after his first game of the season, Gingery was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery in February due a torn ulnar collateral ligament.

Gingery was nothing outside of excellent when he was healthy at Texas Tech. He was the #2 starter as a freshman for the Red Raiders on their College World Series team after going 4-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. He had an underwhelming 2.03 K/BB ratio, but those numbers turned around in his sophomore year. In 2017, Gingery went 10-1 with a 1.58 ERA and 0.97 over 91 innings. He struck out 107 and walked 29 for a 3.69 K/BB ratio.

His stuff reminds me a lot of Marco Gonzales when he was drafted in the first round by the Cardinals, and Gingery has also drawn comparisons to Jason Vargas. Gingery’s fastball sits 88-92 mph and he’s touched 94 mph. The fastball has good sink, and Gingery is able to spot it where he likes. His changeup is where he will make his money; it is a plus-plus pitch and would have been the best in the entire 2018 Draft class had he gotten more than two innings.

Gingery is exactly what you might expect in a #4 starter; he throws strikes, eats innings, and competes hard. He is likely not going to be much more than that, especially if he struggles in his return from the surgery, but he could also become an intriguing bullpen piece.

The pool amount for this pick is $446,900.


Fifth round, 153rd overall

Nick Dunn (University of Maryland

2B Nick Dunn
University of Maryland, Junior
6’2”, 210 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

With their fifth-round selection, the Cardinals added a somewhat under-the-radar college bat who could provide strong dividends as he matures. Most importantly, Dunn has  already proven he can excel with a wood bat in his hands.

Dunn is a three-year starter for Maryland, and his junior season has been a breakout for him. After an underwhelming sophomore year in which he slashed .261/.345/.384 with five home runs and 32 RBI, Dunn’s power spiked as he hit .330/.419/.561 with 10 homers this season. Not only did his power grow by leaps and bounds, Dunn maintained his great plate discipline with a 12.6% walk rate, and he struck out in just 7.5% of his plate appearances.

Dunn is a two-time All Star in the Cape Cod League. Over 81 games in the summer showcase, the second baseman has hit .321/.394/.415 with a near 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The power hasn’t shown up as much as you would like with the wood bat, though. Although he has 15 doubles in those 81 games, he only popped two home runs over those two years.

Another strike against him is his defense. Dunn has a below-average arm and speed, so he is confined to second base. However, if he can continue to hit, he could grow into a poor man’s Cesar Hernandez from the Phillies. Or, he could turn into Skip Schumaker if Schumaker had had better range at second. If Dunn’s wood bat success carries over to the professional ranks, he has the offensive ability to be a second-tier starter and maybe even a starter for a year or two.

The pool amount for this pick is $333,700.


Edgar Gonzalez (Fresno State)

Sixth round, 183rd overall

RHP Edgar Gonzalez
Fresno State University, Junior
6’1”, 200 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

To fill out more minor league pitching staffs, the Cardinals looked to the Mountain West Conference for another right-handed starting pitcher.

Gonzalez led the charge for the Fresno State Bulldogs this year after taking home Second-Team All-Mountain West honors as a sophomore. Gonzalez struggled some in the rotation in his sophomore season, getting only seven starts and 14 relief appearances. But, as a full-time starter in 2018, Gonzalez went 8-2 with a 2.84 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Gonzalez showed much improved command by striking out 110 and walked 31 in his 95 innings. His strong season earned him First Team honors this year.

Gonzalez’ wind up probably lends him more to a future relief role, and it is extremely similar to Tim Lincecum and Matt Bowman. Impressively, he repeats his delivery rather consistently, which helps him command his fastball. He throws a solid fastball with a little armside run and good sink in the low-90s, and that could play up as a reliever. He also has a fantastic curveball with good break to it. That fastball-curveball combination could make him an important middle reliever in the big leagues.

The pool amount for this pick is $255,900.


Brendan Donovan (South Alabama)

Seventh round, 213th overall

3B Brendan Donovan
University of South Alabama, Junior
6’1”, 195 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

Donovan reminds me a lot of shortstop Paul DeJong as a mid-round guy who I can see surprising a lot of people by basically coming out of nowhere to contribute to a big league club. Donovan has done nothing but hit since high school. This past season for the Jaguars, Donovan hit .302/.456/.480 with 5 home runs, 5 steals, and 55 RBIs in 57 games. He struggled with power as a freshman for South Alabama, but in his collegiate career he put up a .311/.435/.480 line with 116 walks and 88 strikeouts in 170 games.

He did struggle in the Cape Cod League last year, hitting .138/.294/.241 in 28 games. However, note the consistent ability to get on base. Donovan has a great recognition of the strike zone, and he doesn’t unnecessarily expand his zone. He has plus raw power he’s still tapping into, and it could become an asset down the road.

Donovan is capable at the hot corner, but he’s a fringy runner with just an average arm. He has played a little shortstop for South Alabama and can probably play there in a pinch professionally similar to Jedd Gyorko. He can also play in the outfield. A first-round pick this year and teammate of Donovan’s, Travis Swaggerty, notes how Donovan is hard-nosed and uses the whole field when he hits. In fact, looking at his entire field of work, Donovan most reminds me of Matt Carpenter; he gets on base, walks more than he strikes out, puts up good enough power that has the potential to grow, and plays a solid third base.

The pool amount for this pick is $200,300.


Lars Nootbaar (Southern Cal)

Eighth round, 243rd overall

OF Lars Nootbaar
University of Southern California, Junior
6’3”, 210 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

The Cardinals’ focus on strength in this draft continued with a big boy from Southern California. Nootbaar, the younger brother of Orioles’ prospect Nigel, played mostly left field for the Trojans this year. Before this season, Nootbaar was projected to be a top-5 round pick, but he underperformed all around and fell because of it. After a great sophomore season in which he hit .304/.416/.473 with five homers and 30 RBI, Nootbar’s slash line dropped to .249/.357/.373 – although he did still pop six home runs and plate 24. It is distinctly possible Nootbaar hit into some bad luck, considering his BABIP dropped from .338 to .275 this season.

Nootbaar has two skills which appear to an analytics-driven organization like the Cardinals: plate discipline and power potential. In 138 college games, Nootbaar walked 82 times and struck out just 91 times. Also, despite the deflated slash line, Nootbaar actually improved his power rate with better AB/HR rates and extra-base hit percentages. If he can get a little more batted ball luck, he could be a solid on-base guy with some pop. He doesn’t tap into his power enough in games, though. Adjustments to his stance and swing could fix that problem. When he is right, he can hit towering home runs.

He shows below-average speed but moves well for a player his size. He should be able to start his professional career in left field, but don’t be surprised by a move to first base in the future. If a retool to his swing helps him tap into his power, Nootbaar could become a poor man’s Eric Hosmer at his peak. Ultimately, he reminds me of a left-handed Luke Voit who should get some looks in the big leagues if he continues to develop.

The pool amount for this pick is $163,100.


Matt Duce (Dallas Baptist)

Ninth round, 273rd overall

C Matt Duce
Dallas Baptist University, Senior
5’11” 190 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

Before the more open Rounds 11-40, the Cardinals picked up their first senior selection of the draft in the catcher from the Patriots. Duce was also drafted by the Mets last year in the 14th round, but he opted to return to Dallas Baptist University for his senior year.

His offensive numbers severely fell off in his final college season. After an impressive .333/.424/.554 junior year, Duce plummeted to a .231/.372/.435 line. However, similar to Nootbaar, the issues may have been due to bad luck. Duce’s BABIP dropped from .348 from his sophomore year and .349 from his junior year down to .229 this season. Also, despite the anemic slash line, Duce still matched his home run total from his junior year with nine and nearly matched his junior RBI total (55) with 49 this year. Additionally, Duce stole nine bases this season, and he struck out just 36 times against 47 walks. Duce also has a solid Cape Cod League season under his belt, hitting .236/.389/.417 in 25 games in the summer of 2016.

Duce is a solid receiver behind the plate with a 60-grade arm which has hit 90 mph. Offensively, he has a level, quiet swing, but he generates plus bat speed, which is where he gets his power. He’ll never be a big slugger, but he could turn into a decent enough hitting catcher to at least back up a big league catcher.

Catchers, especially those who can effectively handle the position, are always a need. A potentially solid hitter who will sign for cheap and enable the Cards to bank some savings is definitely a win.

The pool amount for this pick is $146,800.


Kevin Woodall (Coastal Carolina)

10th round, 303rd overall

1B Kevin Woodall Jr.
Coastal Carolina University, Senior
6’6”, 240 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

The Cardinals just can’t get enough big, right-handed first basemen in this Draft. After going after TCU’s Baker with their final pick of Day 1, the Cardinals picked up another power hitter with their final pick of Day 2 in Woodall.

The first baseman put up a huge season for Coastal Carolina, hitting .300/.417/.592 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI, and that is no fluke. In his final two seasons combined, Woodall popped 37 homers and drove in 122 over 106 games. For his efforts last year, Woodall received first team All-Sun Belt honors and second team All-American honors.

Not surprisingly, Woodall has plus-plus raw power, but he certainly has shown struggles with contact. He struck out 21.8% of the time this year, and a while his 14.1% walk rate looks good, a lot of that is going to simply be due to getting pitched around as a huge bat in the Sun Belt Conference.

Woodall will definitely be resigned to a first base/designated hitter position, but if he can improve his contact in the professional ranks, he can be a solid piece who might get a couple of coffee in the big leagues.

The pool amount for this pick is $138,600.


Your authors

As noted above, TCN draft analyst Scott Schook is writing the player capsules and Brian Walton is filling in the rest.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation: Cardinals Class-A Pitching is Adjusted

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase our new 193-page 2018 Prospect Guide for less than half price. Our limited edition printed version is sold out.

© 2018 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals Pick Prep 3B Gorman in First Round

photo: Nolan Gorman (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

By Scott Schook and Brian Walton

The St. Louis Cardinals are back in Day 1 of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft after sitting out in 2017 due to forfeiting all three first-day selections. Under scouting director Randy Flores, the club is making its initial three 2018 picks on Monday evening, June 4, in rounds 1 and 2.

First up was power-hitting high school third baseman Nolan Gorman from Phoenix, Arizona, taken 19th overall.

St. Louis also lost one pick in 2018, the 59th overall, due to the signing of free agent reliever Greg Holland, who had received a qualifying offer from the Colorado Rockies last fall.

Overall in Day 1, encompassing these first three picks, the Cardinals have been allocated $5,695,500 in bonus pool money. Their total through round 10 is $7,968,400.

Rounds 3-10 will occur starting at 1:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday and rounds 11-40 will be completed beginning at noon ET on Wednesday

To reference the Cardinals new draft class on an ongoing basis, each player will have a profile located on a holding team called “2018 DRAFT UNSIGNED PLAYERS”. This can be accessed at the bottom of the drop-down menu in the red column at the left called “ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES”.


St. Louis’ selections – 2018 Draft day 1

Nolan Gorman (MLB.com)

First round, 19th overall

3B Nolan Gorman
Sandra Day O’Connor High School (HS), Phoenix, AZ
6’1”, 210 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Commitment: Arizona

For the third time in four years, the Cardinals spent their first selection in the MLB Draft on a high school hitter. When one of the most enticing prep hitters in the Draft pool fell to the Cardinals (just like in 2016 with Delvin Perez), the Cardinals made no delay in snapping him up.

Gorman has some of the best raw power in the draft with some scouts giving him a 70 grade. The third baseman won both the MLB All-Star Game High School Home Run Derby in Miami and the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. He stood out in the summer circuit.

Gorman batted .419 (116-for-277) with 32 home runs, 118 RBI and 115 runs scored in his high school career. As a senior, he helped lead the Eagles to their first 6A State Championship, hitting .421 with 10 home runs, 46 walks, a .640 on-base percentage and .896 slugging percentage in 32 games.

His offensive game does have some swing and miss to it, though. Gorman can sometimes get out in front of himself, leading to holes on the inside of his swing. However, some of this may be due to pressing as he was by far the best player on his team and would have received precious little to hit. When he does make contact, the ball leaps off his bat in an unnatural fashion. When you see Gorman swing, he generates an excellent rubber-band effect with his upper half, and he possesses excellent body awareness. Gorman has received comparisons to both Kyle and Corey Seager on the offensive side of the ball.

The defensive side does have some questions. Gorman has a prototypical third baseman build with soft hands and good footwork. His arm is good enough to handle third base for now. His arm grades out as a 50, and his 40-grade speed keeps his range below average as well. Some believe that with enough instruction, he can continue to stick at third, but even a move to first base would be viable given his bat.

With this pick, the Cardinals have added something they desperately need in the system: power. If Gorman hits his potential ceiling, the Cardinals could plop a consistent 30-home run threat right in the middle of their lineup for several years. The Cardinals also made a little history with this pick: Gorman is the first MLB draftee in history born in the year 2000.

“We’re very excited for the opportunity to draft Nolan Gorman,” stated St. Louis Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak. “You’re always looking for opportunities at every draft, and picking at No. 19, we weren’t sure what that would bring tonight. Gorman has a different profile than what we have picked before, and we’re excited to draft this kind of player into our system.”

“We were thrilled to take Nolan,” stated St. Louis Cardinals Scouting Director Randy Flores. “The way the board worked out, you can’t believe a left-handed hitter as young as he is, who has performed with power on the biggest stage, was available to us.”

“Nolan Gorman is an analytical poster boy,” Sandra Day O’Connor coach Jeff Baumgartner told the Arizona Republic. “All the things they are looking for nowadays in baseball, with launch angle and exit velocity, is right up his alley.

“He has offensive tools that separate him from all the other high school players in the nation. His light-tower power is on display in every batting practice and home run derby he takes part in. And his knowledge of his strike zone will help to swiftly move him up the ranks.”

The pool amount for this pick is $3,231,700.

Kelly was the only prep player in the above group , and as readers already know, he soon moved behind the plate.


First round, Competitive Balance A, 43rd overall

Griffin Roberts (Wake Forest)

RHP Griffin Roberts
Wake Forest University, Junior
6’1”, 210 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

With their Competitive Balance Lottery selection, the Cardinals picked up a college arm who could be sitting down big league hitters sooner rather than later. Roberts was drafted last year by the Minnesota Twins in the 29th round as a draft-eligible sophomore, but he elected to return to Wake Forest for his junior year, and that choice most certainly paid off.

The right hander went 5-4 for the Demon Deacons this year with a 3.82 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP over 96.2 innings in 14 starts. Roberts displayed his dominant stuff with 130 strikeouts to 38 walks, giving him a 3.42 K/BB ratio. Roberts’ first full season in the rotation for Wake Forest was definitely a success after proving himself in the bullpen in his sophomore year, when he picked up eight saves in 29 games with a 2.19 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Working in the Cape Cod League last summer, Roberts was absolutely dominant. He  threw 32 innings and struck out 35 against just six walks, leading to a 1.96 ERA and 0.88 WHIP.

Roberts has the best breaking ball of any college pitcher in the Draft this year. His slider hangs out in the mid-80s and has ridiculous break on it. The slider breaks hard down and away from right-handed hitters reminiscent of Carlos Martinez’s slider. His fastball is nothing to ignore. He works in the 90-95 mph range as a starter, but in shorter stints as a reliever, Roberts can sit at 95 and touch 97. He has an average changeup as well, most definitely his third-best pitch. His repertoire reminds me quite a bit of another high Cardinals’ draft pick, Dakota Hudson. There is some effort to his three-quarters delivery, and he has encountered some issues repeating his delivery in the past.

Roberts can struggle with command, which leads many scouts to believe he is destined to end up in the bullpen. Even if so, his mix of an upper-90s fastball and phenomenal slider could make him a top reliever in the Majors. In fact, Peter Gammons believes that combination could allow him to fly through the Minors and even pitch in games at Busch Stadium by September of this year.

However, the Cardinals have other plans.

“Roberts possesses a power arsenal and had success transitioning to a starter,” said Flores. “Our hope and aim is for him to be in the rotation and are excited to see what happens in his career.”

The pool amount for this pick is $1,664,200.


Second round compensation (loss of Lance Lynn), 75th overall

Luken Baker (TCU)

1B Luken Baker
Texas Christian University, Junior
6’5”, 265 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Baker may sound familiar to draft followers as he was a highly-touted prospect leading up to the 2015 draft. Coming out of high school, Baker was projected to be a top-75 selection, most likely as a pitcher thanks to his fastball that reached 95 mph and some impressive breaking pitches. However, he was dedicated to honoring his commitment to TCU and sent a letter to Major League teams requesting they not call his name. The Astros took a shot at him with a 37th-round pick, but they weren’t able to lure him from his college plans.

Baker is a big boy. For reference, he has an inch in height and 40 pounds of weight on another large first baseman in the Cardinals’ system, Luke Voit. His size advantage coupled with some of the best bat speed in the entire draft gives him plenty of raw power. MLB.com grades his power at a 55, but I’ve seen others grade it as high as 70. To translate, that’s consistently anywhere from a hitter who puts up around 25 home runs to one that puts up around 40. His hit tool is at least average with a 50 grade from MLB.com and he has seasons of batting .379 and .317 at TCU. This year, Baker put up a .319/.443/.575 slash line with nine homers and 26 RBI, plus, he only struck out 18 times against 24 walks. Unfortunately, he only played 31 games due to a broken leg and torn ankle ligament in April from an awkward slide after his 2017 season ended with a serious elbow injury.

Not surprisingly from his profile as a pitcher, he has a plus arm. But, forget any ideas that he will play somewhere other than first base, although the Matt-Adams-in-left-field experiment makes me think anything is possible – at least to try. Baker is slow. I mean, sloooooooooooow. Like, Yadier Molina slow. He gets a 20 speed grade from MLB.com, the lowest possible grade on the scouting scale. And, coming off that broken leg, I can’t see the Cardinals pushing him to put more pressure on his wheels.

His bat speed and raw power more than make up for that drawback. Baker hit 19 home runs in 114 games during his time at TCU along with 24 doubles. He has shown good plate discipline as well with more walks than strikeouts. Another exciting factor is his performance in big games. For example, in the 2016 Big 12 Tournament, Baker hit .682 with four home runs and 11 RBI to take home MVP honors. One of those four homers ended up in the parking garage next to the stadium.

Looking into the future, I can see Baker ending up anywhere between the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Josh Bell or the Cleveland Indians’ Edwin Encarnacion. Baker won’t be a Gold Glover at first, but he should certainly be capable of holding down the position during his team control years.

“Baker is an impressive player, and we didn’t think we would have the chance to draft a high-caliber player like him at that spot,” said Flores. “He’s proven himself at a high level and we admire his resiliency.”

The pool amount for this pick is $799,600.


Your authors

As noted above, TCN draft analyst Scott Schook is once again writing the player capsules and Brian Walton is filling in the rest.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation: Cardinals Class-A Pitching is Adjusted

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase our new 193-page 2018 Prospect Guide for less than half price. Our limited edition printed version is sold out.

© 2018 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

TCN’s 2018 St. Louis Cardinals Mock Draft – Rounds 1-5

The 2018 First-Year Player Draft will be especially crucial for the St. Louis Cardinals after their 2017 class was limited due to penalties. The Cardinal Nation’s Scott Schook shares his predictions for the club’s first five rounds of choices, encompassing six picks, as well as evaluating other alternatives – while explaining why he sees a fit.

This content is for Paid – Monthly, Paid – Three Months and Paid – Annual members only.
Log In Register

2018 Cardinals Draft Preview: College Sluggers

photo: Alec Bohm (Wichita State University)

Editor’s note: This is the first of TCN draft analyst Scott Schook’s annual series of articles profiling potential targets of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft, to be held June 4-6. While this article is free, the remainder of the series will be exclusively for TCN members. Join today and get TCN’s new 2018 Prospect Guide for less than half price!


Ahh.

Did you hear it? That barely-audible exhale of breath?

That was me, preparing to start these articles. In 2017, I abstained from preparing these draft profiles because of the lack of high draft picks the St. Louis Cardinals possessed. The Cardinals relinquished their first round draft pick for signing outfielder Dexter Fowler from the rival Chicago Cubs. The hacking scandal perpetrated by former Director of Scouting, Chris Correa, sent selections #39 and #56 to the Houston Astros as compensation. As such, the Cardinals did not make a selection until Day 2 in the third round, when they picked up Scott Hurst from Cal State Fullerton.

Admittedly, the offseason is not yet over. There are still six free agents who rejected qualifying offers and will cost the signing team a draft pick: pitchers Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, and Greg Holland; first baseman Eric Hosmer; and third baseman Mike Moustakas. The Cardinals have been connected to Arrieta, Holland, Hosmer, and Moustakas in the rumor mill, but with them still unsigned, the Cardinals still have all of their draft picks, and they will receive a pick after Competitive Balance Lottery Round B, which comes after Round 2, once Lynn signs with a new team.

Assuming Lynn inks his new contract before the First-Year Player Draft and St. Louis does not sign one of the aforementioned free agents, the Cardinals will enter the war room with five picks in the top 100 selections: their standard picks from the first, second, and third rounds, a pick in Competitive Balance Lottery Round A, and the compensation for Lynn. After a year that severely limited their drafting ability as well as a trade that removed two (or three, depending on who you ask) of the team’s top 15 prospects, those five picks will go a long way to replenishing the system.

One of the least prevalent tools in the organization is power. Because of the lack of thump in the lineup, the Cardinals sent four prospects to the Miami Marlins to bring in outfielder Marcell Ozuna, the presumed new cleanup hitter for the next two years before he can elect free agency. Shortstop Paul DeJong showed off his power after his graduation to the big league club, but Cards fans are wary if he can continue that pop due to his high strikeout rates and the sudden cliff dive of his predecessor, former All-Star Aledmys Diaz.

The Cardinals had two top prospects break the 20 home run barrier last year, both of whom were outfielders at the Triple-A level: Harrison Bader, who got a cup of coffee in the Majors, and Tyler O’Neill, who came over from the Mariners’ organization in return for left-hander Marco Gonzales. In fact, the last time the Cardinals had a homegrown (draft, developed, and debuted) player put up a 30 home run season was 2011 by Albert Pujols.

Long story short, there’s precious little power in the system. Now, the big league club could have some serious pop in 2018 with Ozuna, DeJong, Matt Carpenter, Tommy Pham and Jedd Gyorko. But, the minor league teams are in dire need of power. And that is exactly where the Cardinals first selection in June could help the system. Allow me to introduce three college sluggers who could shoot through the system and give the Cardinals a counter to the Kyle Schwarbers and Kris Bryants of the National League Central.


Seth Beer (Clemson University)

1B Seth Beer, Clemson
6’2” 195 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

This is likely the most familiar name we will see over the course of these previews. Throughout the summer of 2017, the bottom feeders of the league all looked primed to let the losses pile up to get a shot at Beer. Every publication was looking at Beer as the number one pick for 2018. But, that was all predicated on Beer’s ability to stick in the outfield and the progression of his bat from his freshman season when he hit .369/.535/.700. He was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, the first freshman to win the Dick Howser Trophy, and Baseball America’s Freshman of the Year.

Unfortunately for Beer, his defense regressed and relegated him to first base and designated hitter. His offense took a small step back, with his slash line .298/.478/.606. However, he still put up fantastic numbers overall, and his rate stats didn’t change dramatically.

Still, because of his defensive and running limitations, Beer has dropped down the draft boards and mock drafts. In fact, Baseball America does not have Beer projected to go in the first round.

Despite all that, Beer has legit power. He generates that power from his big frame and having a quick, direct path to the ball. He starts from a wide stance that just slightly opens in his front foot. He has very little movement as he waits for the ball with a small toe tap timing mechanism before he starts his swing. He has also shown great patience at the plate in college with twice as many walks as strikeouts. On the other hand, he has bottom of the barrel speed and poor defense that will restrict him to first base.

Beer’s draft profile actually reminds me quite a bit of San Francisco Giants’ top prospect Chris Shaw with a bit less power. He was selected 31st overall in 2015. In two-plus professional years, Shaw has hit a total of 57 home runs while slugging .511. Shaw looks to be on the cusp of the big leagues. If Beer can follow the same path as Shaw, he would be ready to man first base for the Cardinals in 2020 or 2021. If he can’t, his draft profile also reminds me a lot of Brett Wallace.


Luken Baker (Texas Christian University)

1B Luken Baker, Texas Christian University
6’4” 265 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Baker may also sound familiar to draft followers as he was a highly-touted prospect leading up to the 2015 draft. Coming out of high school, Baker was projected to be a top-75 selection, most likely as a pitcher thanks to his fastball that reached 95 mph and some impressive breaking pitches. However, he was dedicated to honoring his commitment to TCU and sent a letter to Major League teams requesting they not call his name. The Astros took a shot at him with a 37th-round pick, but they weren’t able to lure him from his college plans.

Baker is a big boy. For reference, he has an inch in height and 40 pounds of weight on another large first baseman in the Cardinals’ system, Luke Voit. His size advantage coupled with some of the best bat speed in the entire draft gives him plenty of raw power. MLB.com grades his power at a 55, but I’ve seen others grade it as high as 70. To translate, that’s consistently anywhere from a hitter who puts up around 25 home runs to one that puts up around 40. His hit tool is at least average with a 50 grade from MLB.com seasons of batting .379 and .317 at TCU.

Not surprisingly from his profile as a pitcher, he has a plus arm. But, forget any ideas that he’ll play somewhere besides first base, although the Matt-Adams-in-Left-Field experiment makes me think anything is possible – at least to try. Baker is slow. I mean, sloooooooooooow. Like, Yadier Molina slow. He gets a 20 speed grade from MLB.com, the lowest possible grade on the scouting scale.

His bat speed and raw power more than make up for that drawback. Baker has hit 19 home runs in 114 games during his time at TCU along with 24 doubles. He has shown good plate discipline as well with more walks than strikeouts. Another exciting factor is his performance in big games. For example, in the 2016 Big 12 Tournament, Baker hit .682 with four home runs and 11 RBI to take home MVP honors. One of those four homers ended up in the parking garage next to the stadium.

Looking into the future, I can see Baker ending up anywhere between the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Josh Bell or the Cleveland Indians’ Edwin Encarnacion. Baker won’t be a Gold Glover at first, but he should certainly be capable of holding down the position during his team control years.


Alec Bohm (Wichita State University)

3B Alec Bohm, Wichita State University
6’5” 240 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Bohm is actually one of two potential first rounders from Wichita State, along with outfield prospect Greyson Jenista, who we will be covering in another edition of these draft profiles. Jenista might have more all-around ability, but Bohm is the more consistent hitter.

Bohm plays third base for Wichita State, but most scouts agree he will end up across the diamond as his career progresses in the professional ranks. His footwork, range, and speed around the hot corner needs quite a lot of work, and his arm is only average. He might be able to start his career there, but like previous Cardinals’ prospects Wallace and Allen Craig, his ultimate destination is going to be first.

One of the most intriguing things about Bohm is how well he has already performed with wood bats. After his freshman year, he went to the Coastal Plain League for 54 games, and hit .330/.407/.552 with 11 home runs and 51 RBI. Following last season, Bohm stepped up to the Cape Cod League, the premier amateur wood bat league. He dominated the league with a .351/.399/.513 slash line that included five homers and 28 RBI in 39 games.

Bohm has great bat speed and makes consistently hard contact with the ball. Plus, his stroke is geared for power. He has also shown good ability to fight off pitches in tough counts, which helps him get the pitch he wants.

With his skillset, I can actually see Bohm turning into the good version of the aforementioned Craig with a ceiling of good Ryan Zimmerman. Both of those players started their careers at third base while ultimately proving to be first basemen and showed consistent contact with plus to plus-plus power.


Conclusion

All three of these sluggers are pretty consistently ranked near each other right now, all around the end of the first round. All of them have plenty of potential to power the middle of a lineup for several years. Any of these three would be a great selection in my estimation, but personally, I’m the biggest fan of Baker. I think Baker can turn into a consistent 30+ home run guy hitting third or fourth in a lineup. I see Bohm more as a really good #5 hitter, and while I believe Beer has the highest ceiling, the flashes of Wallace won’t escape my mind.

Coming soon: Check back at The Cardinal Nation for Scott Schook’s next article in his series of previews leading up to the 2018 First-Year Player Draft, all exclusively for TCN members! Future topics include key skill positions, as well as specialists like speedsters, plus separate looks at top high school and college pitchers, some of whom may be Cardinals targets this June.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation: 2018 Cardinals Minor League Spring Training Schedules

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2018 Prospect Guide for less than half price.

Follow Scott Schook on Twitter @scottschook.

© 2018 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.