photo: Chris Holba (East Carolina)
By Derek Shore, Scott Schook and Brian Walton
On Wednesday, June 7, the St. Louis Cardinals are making their final 30 selections in the third day of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft, covering rounds 11-40.
Though uninformed observers pay little attention to Day 3 selections, the reality is that many good major leaguers are sourced from these picks. In fact, the Cardinals have been especially successful, with a number of players currently on the major league roster once drafted in round 11 or later. They include former all-star Matt Carpenter and potential 2018 all-star Tommy Pham.
In Day 2 of the 2018 Draft, the Cardinals clearly focused on college hitters, using five of the eight picks. Of the seven collegians added in total on the second day, the first five were all juniors and just the final two are seniors, apparently leaving less opportunity to save money to overpay selected Day 3 picks.
The Cardinals are required to use a portion of their $7,968,400 pool allocation to cover bonuses for any of the Day 3 selections who receive more than $125,000 each in signing bonus.
Just one high schooler was taken on Day 3, the initial selection, third-rounder Mateo Gil. There is a considerable balance across positions in the second-day take, with two pitchers, two middle infielders, two corner infielders, an outfielder and a catcher.
However, the clear focus in this draft has been on offense (eight selections) over pitching (three) and on college (nine) over high schoolers (two).
Link to The Cardinal Nation’s Draft Day 2 in-depth report – Cardinals Pick Eight on 2018 Draft Day 2
Link to The Cardinal Nation’s Draft Day 1 in-depth report – St. Louis Cardinals Take Prep 3B Gorman in First Round
Come back to The Cardinal Nation often on Wednesday as information about all St. Louis’ draft picks from rounds 11-40 will be posted shortly after they are made.
Again, as Wednesday progresses from afternoon into evening, this article will be updated as picks are made and information added, so please check back often.
St. Louis’ Day 3 selections
11th round, 333rd overall
RHP Chris Holba
East Carolina, Junior
6’3′, 190 pounds
After going heavy on position players in the first two days of the 2018 draft, the Cardinals went with a college junior right-hander from East Carolina with their 11th round pick in Holba to open Day 3.
This past season, the 21-year old put together his best collegiate season to date, posting a 2.99 ERA (ranked sixth in the American Conference) over 15 starts for the Pirates. Holba also had a 60-to-20 strikeout to walk ratio through 81 1/3 innings hurled.
Stuff-wise, the O’Fallon, Illinois native has four main pitches, including a four-seam fastball, sinker, changeup, and slider. This selection marks the second consecutive year the Cardinals have drafted a pitcher from East Carolina. The last was lefty starter Evan Kruczynski, who is now at high-A Palm Beach.
Last month, Holba was also named to the Golden Spikes Midseason Watch-List. In addition, he played for Team Europe in the 2009 Little League World Series, hitting a grand slam against Canada. His father, Colonel Bob Holba, played baseball and football at the United States Air Force Academy.
12th round, 363rd overall
RHP Francisco Justo
Monroe College, JC J1
6’4”, 195 pounds
The Cardinals followed up their first pick of Day 3 with yet another college arm. This time, however, they went the JUCO route with Justo.
Justo, a 19-year old righty from Bronx, New York, went a perfect 10-0 with a 2.01 ERA for Monroe College, striking out a whopping 121 batters against 29 walks through 71 2/3 innings. That is an average of 15.20 strikeouts per nine innings (sixth in the country).
Not only that, Justo was the first Monroe JC Mustang to ever be selected to the Juco World Series All-Tournament Team. He was named to the NJCAA Division 1 All-Region XV Team as well.
13th round, 393rd overall
LHP Colin Schmid
Appalachian State (NC), 4YR JR
6’1”, 195 pounds
With their 13th round selection, the Cardinals selected their second southpaw of the draft in Schmid.
Schmid, a 20-year old, features a sinking fastball that sits in the 86-90 mph range. He also has a good curveball and an excellent changeup to boot. Schmid is said to be a strike-thrower and has shown the ability to compete when adversity arises.
He also ranked third in Appalachian State history with 224 strikeouts. In fact, Schmid struck out 11 against UNC-Wilmington which is tied for the most punchouts in a single game in a Sun Belt game in 2018.
In addition, Schmid excels with academics as he was named to the Dean’s List and is majoring in Construction Management with minors in Spanish and Business.
His 65 punchouts lead all App pitchers. pic.twitter.com/TQQ7GNfJa9
— App State Baseball (@AppBaseball) May 4, 2017
14th round, 423rd overall
2B Brandon Riley
North Carolina (NC), 4-year Junior
6’0”, 170 pounds
With the 14th round pick, the Cardinals took North Carolina second baseman Brandon Riley (first position of Day 3 so far).
While not the most physical player on the field by any means, Riley stands out for his quality at-bats and defensive capabilities fitting the mold of Greg Garcia and Tommy Edman. Standing 6’0” and 170 pounds, he has a lean frame that he can easily add bulk to while in pro ball while still sustaining his athletic ability.
At the dish, Riley has quick hands and showcases an understanding of the strike zone. He is a disciplined hitter with above-average bat control, working the whole field and rarely chases pitches out of the zone. Though he doesn’t hit for much power, Riley often drives the ball in the gaps for extra-base hits.
15th round, 453rd overall
RHP Mike Brettell
Central Michigan (MI), 4-year Junior
6’3”, 195 pounds
The Cardinals returned to pitching after their first position player in the 14th round, selecting Brettell.
Bretell, considered to be the workhorse of Central Michigan pitching staff, leading the team with 15 starts and 93 innings this season, including two complete games. He also had a 4.70 ERA with 70-to-32 K/BB through 93 innings.
That said, look beyond the stats with Brettell because he flashes quality stuff at times. His fheater runs in the 90-to-94 mph range with darting sink, maintaining that velocity throughout outings. However, he gets hit hard when he leaves the ball up.
To round out his repertoire, Brettell plays a slider off his fastball with a changeup that floats too much.
16th round, 483rd overall
LHP Samuel (Evan) Sisk
College of Charleston, 4-year Junior
6’2”, 209 pounds
The Cardinals continued to go heavy on college pitching with their 16th round pick, taking a lefty from College of Charleston in Sisk.
Sisk, a 6-foot-2, 209 pounder, compiled a 10-3 record with a 2.96 ERA for the Cougars in his junior season. He also had a 78-to-24 K/BB through 91 1/3 innings hurled.
Sisk is a native of Chester, South Carolina and pitched four seasons at Lewisville High School in Richburg, SC as a prep. Named all-state as a sophomore, junior and senior. He posted a 0.97 ERA with 114 strikeouts in his senior campaign.
17th round, 513rd overall
RHP Kyle Leahy
Colorado Mesa University, 4-year Junior
6’5”, 200 pounds
Another pick, another college junior pitcher the Cardinals drafted. This time, it is right-handed pitcher Leahy from Colorado Mesa University.
In his junior season, Leahy picked up second-team All-Region honors by the D2CCA after tying for the team lead in wins with seven. He also tied for the team lead with 85 strikeouts.
As a sophomore, he was 13-0 with a 1.41 ERA at Colorado Mesa, earning first-team All-American, first-team Academic All-American and was the South Central Regional Tournament MVP.
As a prepster, Leahy played at Erie High School in Colorado.
18th round, 543rd overall
RHP Cole Aker
University of Tampa, Junior
6’2”, 205 pounds
The Cardinals continue to fill up on college junior pitchers in the teens rounds.
Aker showed some ability in his time in high school with a fastball that touched 92 mph, but he decided to pursue his collegiate career. He spent two years at the University of North Carolina, where he put up a 2.93 ERA in 31 games, 5 of which were starts. In the summer of 2017, he threw 23.1 innings in the Cape Cod League, striking out 26 but walking 21.
After transferring to Tampa, Aker split time between the rotation and the bullpen, throwing 46 innings and putting up a 3.72 ERA. He continued to strike out hitters at a great clip with 47, but his command issues also continued with 23 walks.
Aker has a live arm, but control has always been his issue. His fastball sits in the low-90s, and his breaking ball has some potential but is too slurvy at this time. If he can tighten it up into a slider with command, it could be a plus pitch. He certainly has some potential, but a lot of mechanical issues are likely what lead to his command problems.
With the right coaching and a full-time move to the pen, Aker could get a little better velocity and better command of his pitches.
19th round, 573rd overall
2B Josh Shaw
St. John’s University, Junior
6’1”, 195 pounds
Shaw is not going to be any scouts dream or jump off the stats page, but he’s a dream for a Cardinals’ fan. Shaw is a gritty gamer who does all the little things right.
The infielder was selected to the First Team All-Big East Team for his sophomore season. He’s a solid defender at second base, with his coach, Ed Blankmeyer, calling him one of the better players he’s had and one of the best defenders he’s ever coached, and Blankmeyer coached the San Francisco Giants’ Joe Panik. Shaw is also exceptionally tough to strikeout: he struck out in just 4.5% of his plate appearances this year and less than 6% throughout his college career.
However, he also doesn’t walk a ton: Shaw walked in 4.9% of his 2018 plate appearances and 4.7% in his career. Shaw has basically zero power as well. He put up his highest isolated power (ISO) this season at a meek .097, and he has just 5 home runs and 39 doubles in 164 games. He struggled mightily in the Cape Cod League, hitting .194/.293/.222 in 2016 and .283/.331/.299 in 2017.
Defensively, he’s confined to second base, though he has spent some time at third. He’s also on record saying he wants to earn his degree at St. John’s, where he’s majoring in sports management with a minor in finance, so Shaw may end up returning to school in the fall.
20th round, 603rd overall
RHP Parker Kelly
University of Oregon, Junior
6’1”, 235 pounds
The Cardinals’ run on college pitching continues but this time with a family tie. Parker is the younger brother of Cardinal prospect Carson Kelly. While the Cardinals were able to entice Carson away from Oregon, the younger Parker, whom they drafted out of high school in the 34th round in the 2015 Draft, continued his college commitment.
Kelly put up some strong numbers pitching out of the Ducks’ bullpen this year. In 47 innings, Kelly compiled a 3.26 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 53 strikeouts and just 15 walks, giving him a 3.53 K/BB ratio. Although his strikeout rate dropped some from his sophomore year, he cut his walk rate as well to compensate.
Kelly’s mechanics make him tough on righties with a hidden release point, and he needs that deception as he only throws in the 88-91 mph range. He throws an above-average slider in the mid-80s that breaks off the plate from right-handed hitters. He should be effective against righties in professional baseball, but he may top out before reaching the big leagues.
21st round, 633rd overall
SS Michael Perri
University of San Francisco, Senior
6’3”, 195 pounds
Perri spent most of last season at second base before moving over to shortstop this year. Perri started his collegiate career at Pepperdine University, where they tried to convert him to a pitcher. However, after 4 innings and a 13.50 ERA, that experiment was abandoned.
Perri found his stroke after transferring to conference rival San Francisco. He hit .312/.374/.460 last year before improving to .336/.382/.547 this season. In his two years with the Dons, Perri hit 39 doubles, 14 home runs, and stole 15 bases. His 2018 line was good enough for a 122 wRC+ according to Collegiate Baseball Scouting Network.
Former Don Grant Goodman said Perri is a strong physical guy with speed, power, and good hands. Perri will need to get his tools to translate to better pitching and a wood bat, but he could be a solid fit in the organization.
22nd round, 663rd overall
SS Kevin Vargas
International Baseball Academy (Puerto Rico), HS Senior
6’1”, 175 pounds
The Cardinals waited until the 22nd round to take their first high school pick. With the No. 663 overall selection, they go with upside in Vargas, who is a shortstop and Florida International commit.
Baseball America ranks Vargas as the prospect in this year’s draft class in Puerto which is considered to be down by many. Not only that, he is perhaps the most well-known Puerto Rican in 2018 due to his participation in the Under Armour All-America Game and Perfect Game All-American Classic in 2017, so could signability be a question mark?
Like the Cardinals previous shortstop drafted out of Puerto Rico in first-rounder Delvin Perez, Vargas has shown exciting defensive potential but his bat is rather light. Scouts who saw him prior to the draft thought his stock has backed up across the board, however.
After impressing last summer with solid defensive skills and above-average raw arm strength, Vargas didn’t standout in showcases this spring defensively and also struggled with the bat. If his defense has indeed regressed, he has a tough profile, especially with the bat needing improvement.
Ultimately, the raw tools alone are worth taking a flier on at this point in the draft.
23rd round, 693rd overall
RHP Michael Baird
Southern Illinois Univ.-Carbondale, Senior
6’5”, 210 pounds
The Cardinals have certainly loaded up on college pitching, but with the 23rd pick in the draft, they selected only their fourth senior thus far. Southern Illinois Carbondale righty Baird is the latest arm to be nabbed by the organization.
As a senior this season, Baird, who earned first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors in 2018, boasted a 3.16 ERA over 15 starts for the Salukis. He also held a 92-to-20 strikeout to walk count through 99 2/3 innings pitched.
Baird was SIU’s Friday night starter and rebounded well from a substandard junior year. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound righty threw two complete games for a 28-30 squad.
“Baird was really good and that slider is a pro pitch,” SIU head coach Ken Henderson told The Southern Illinoisan. “That slider will get professional baseball players out. A ton of people have asked about him. I would draft him on the slider alone, and the command. He’s going to get professional hitters out. That’s what it’s all about.”
Baird was ranked the 17th-best pro prospect in Illinois by Baseball America.
24th round, 723rd overall
LHP Eli Kraus
Kent State University, Senior
6’1”, 190 pounds
Yet another college pitcher for the Cardinals and fifth senior in this draft. Lefty Eli Kraus is a small, leanish hurler from Kent State.
As a senior, Kraus compiled a 9-4 record with a 4.28 ERA in 16 appearances (15 starts). He posted a 82-to-27 K/BB over 88 1/3 innings hurled and had two complete game shutouts this year.
Kraus is also a two-time first-team All-Mid American Conference selection in 2016 and 2017. He is tied for second in school history with 26 wins.
25th round, 753rd overall
RHP Troy Montemayor
Baylor University, Senior
6’1”, 160 pounds
With their 25th round pick, the Cardinals took their 11th college pitcher on Day 3 with Montemayor from Baylor.
Montemayor, a closer for the Bears since 2016, has arguably been one of the nation’s top relievers in college baseball. Over his career with Baylor, the small righty has notched 37 saves through 74 innings (72 games). As a senior, Montemayor posted a 2.39 ERA with 11 saves in 23 games, striking out 24 batters to only five walks.
With a fastball that tops out in the high-80s, Montemayor was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 Selection in 2016 and 2017 and was second-team All-Big 12 in 2018.
“His confidence really kind of bred into that role,” Baylor coach Steve Rodriguez told 247sports.com. “He accepted that role as the stopper and that translated into success.
26th round, 783rd overall
RHP Connor Coward
Virginia Tech University, Senior
6’0”, 200 pounds
The Cardinals continue to stock up their lower-level minor league rosters with right-handed college pitchers. What Coward lacks in impressive skills or stats he makes up for in variety.
He doesn’t have a big-time fastball; his heater hangs in the 88-92 mph range and touches 93. He doesn’t have a projectable frame at just six feet tall. He doesn’t have great stats, either. This year for the Hokies, he threw 78 innings and put up a 5.19 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. He struck out less than a batter per inning while walking 3.8 per 9 innings.
Despite that, he has a full contingency of offspeed pitches. He throws an above-average low-80s slider, an average mid-80s changeup, and a cutter that has impressed. His complement of pitches should give him some success in pro ball.
27th round, 813rd overall
RHP Perry DellaValle
Seton Hill University, Senior
6’0”, 185 pounds
Another shorter right-handed pitcher goes to the Redbirds in the 27th round.
In 75.1 innings for Seton Hill, the senior gave up a 3.35 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. DellaValle doesn’t have flashy stuff, but he does have great command of his pitches. He had a 5.5 K/BB ratio thanks to striking out a new school-record 109 and allowing just 20 walks.
He has an upper-80s-to-lower-90s fastball and average potential offspeed pitches with a breaking ball and a changeup.
28th round, 843rd overall
OF Justin Toerner
California State Northridge, Senior
5’10”, 165 pounds
With another senior selection, the Cardinals added another position player with a penchant for getting on base.
The left-handed-hitting center fielder spent all four years at Cal State Northridge and consistently put up strong on-base numbers. In his final season, Toerner hit .279/.383/.487 with 6 homers and 31 RBIs, and those numbers are right in line with what he did throughout college. His career marks over 219 games are a .275/.371/.402 slash line with 11 home runs, 95 RBIs, and 33 stolen bases.
He’s an athletic kid, but he likely but doesn’t have many tools. Toerner has average speed out of the box and uses that speed to cover a good amount of ground in the outfield. He reads the ball well off the bat and is reckless in the outfield, sacrificing his body to make the play. He has an average to above-average arm. He doesn’t have a ton of power, but what he does have comes from strong hands and wrists that generate good bat speed. As he grows, his ceiling is likely a platoon player who yo-yos between the Majors and the Minors, but most likely he’ll be a solid organizational guy.
29th round, 873rd overall
SS Alerick Soularie
San Jacinto College North, JC
6’0”, 175 pounds
The Cardinals took a turn away from the college pitchers by going with an enticing junior college player with some intriguing tools.
Soularie was a potential draft pick in the 2017 draft but instead went to junior college and dominated. Soularie hit .402/.513/.745 in 230 plate appearances over 59 games. He hit 10 home runs with 47 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. He spent time in the middle infield and the outfield.
Soularie is a good athlete with a quick bat that creates his power. His wiry frame has plenty of room to fill out as he matures, and he has plus speed that lends to his defense as well. He can legitimately handle any position you place him, and in high school he even played some catcher. He has great range in the outfield and gets good reads on the ball, and throwing from the outfield lets him show off his arm.
He does have a commitment to Tennessee, so he’ll have to be signed away from that education.
30th round, 903rd overall
OF Kendrick Calilao
The First Academy (FL)
6’1”, 200 pounds
As is to be expected in the late rounds, the Cardinals are taking a flyer on a prep player they will try to entice from a college commitment.
Calilao is a two-way player for The First Academy as both an outfielder and a pitcher. He has a strong, athletic build with good present power, but he’s more suited to contact. His swing is simple and direct to the ball, he shows above-average bat speed already, and his swing is well suited for line drives. He showed he has no issues hitting mid-90s fastballs and drive the ball into the gaps. He can handle center field now but should move to a corner spot as his body grows and fills out.
Calilao has a strong hit tool, and it showed this spring as he hit .400 with 5 home runs, 5 steals, and 24 RBIs.
Calilao will be difficult to sign from his college commitment. He’s a Florida kid and has a commitment to the University of Florida.
31st round, 933rd overall
RHP Ty Cohen
Florida Institute of Technology, Senior
6’1”, 195 pounds
And we’re back to the right-handed pitchers from college for St. Louis.
Cohen put up an underwhelming ERA, but his peripherals stats were quite strong for Florida Tech. The right-hander threw 97.1 innings and struck out 121 (11.2 K/9) and walked only 20 (1.8 BB/), giving him a 6.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Despite those strong peripherals, Cohen gave up 9 home runs and an ERA of 4.44 over 15 starts.
Cohen definitely has potential in the professional ranks, and he’s a brilliant player, having originally used baseball as a tool to get into Florida Tech to pursue an engineering degree.
32nd round, 963rd overall
C Brandon Purcell
Georgia College and State University, Senior
6’1”, 205 pounds
The Cardinals added a prototypical college senior, but this catcher has some exciting offensive potential
Purcell has consistently hit well while at Georgia College posting batting averages of .306, .349, .327, and .383, and his power is no joke, either, with 26 home runs in his four years. The Bobcats’ catcher hit .383/.475/.566 this season with 5 home runs and 55 RBIs. But, don’t think of Purcell as just a slugger; this kid can run, too. He picked up 67 stolen bases in 73 attempts during college.
His professional potential will depend on his bat continuing to put up good numbers, but if he needs to move off catcher, he has the speed to handle other positions as well.
33rd round, 993rd overall
RHP Chris Rivera
Long Beach State University, Junior
5’9”, 175 pounds
Don’t let his size fool you. River is dynamite on the hill.
The diminutive right-handed reliever was nothing short of excellent for Long Beach State in his college career and had his best season in 2018. Rivera notched 11 saves in 23 games (including 1 start) where he went 36.2 innings. He struck out 45 and walked only 5 batters all season. That gives Rivera an 11.1 K/9 rate, a 1.2 BB/9 rate, and a 9:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
His 2018 season was just the icing on a great collegiate career for Rivera. In his three seasons with Long Beach State, River has a 3.41 ERA over 76 games with a 10.1 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
Rivera is a bulldog on the hill who loves closing because of the pressure on him. He has drop-and-drive mechanics, but his arm is a little long for my liking, similar to Joe Kelly. His fastball has good armside run, and his slider has nice bite to it.
34th round, 1023rd overall
C Benito Santiago
University of Tennessee, Senior
6’0”, 190 pounds
Shockingly enough, Santiago is the son of former Major Leaguer Benito Santiago. In fact, he’s a spitting image of his father.
The catcher has a simple swing with a good path through the hitting zone and average bat speed. His hitting mechanics definitely need work, and that’s contributed to his high strikeout numbers. Santiago struck out in 30% of his plate appearances in college.
His power is below average, as he slugged .442 his junior year and .448 his senior season. Between the two years he popped 10 homers but just 21 doubles in 87 games. He has decent speed for a catcher, which is to say he has below average speed.
Santiago is still rounding into form as a catcher, but his arm is what will carry him. He’s got a plus arm behind the plate, and with the right coaching, should be an asset back there. With his bloodlines, he has some potential of reaching the bigs as a third-string catcher.
35th round, 1053rd overall
3B Liam Sabino
University of Pittsburgh, Junior
6’0”, 191 pounds
Sabino is an interesting case of potentially being a Paul DeJong-lite.
The good news about Sabino is he plays quality defense at shortstop and has above-average to plus speed with 18 steals this season. Also, he shows impressive power for a middle infielder. Sabino has 16 home runs and 17 doubles leading to a .595 slugging percentage to go along with his .286 batting average and .396 on-base percentage. As one can see from that on-base percentage, Sabino knows how to take a walk. He’s walked in 14.1% of his plate appearances this year.
The bad news is he strikes out a lot. Sabino struck out 30.9% of the time this year, and he is the very definition of a three true outcome player. He has walked, struck out, or homered in over 52% of his trips to the plate this year.
If he can harness those strikeouts to some extent, he has the physical capabilities to at least be a backup infielder with pop and on-base skills. His ceiling could be a power hitter with strikeout problems.
36th round, 1083rd overall
3B Cole Kreuter
University of California-Irvine, Senior
6’0”, 175 pounds
Kreuter has a high hand load to his swing, and that causes him to miss a lot of pitches as his bat can lag behind. He struck out 1 out of 4 times this season, and he has a career rate of striking out 23.8% of the time. He doesn’t draw a ton of walks with just a 7.9% walk rate this year, but I believe adjusting his hand load will allow him to get to the ball fast and generate better contact with a more level swing.
His offensive profile lends itself most to second base where he spent time this year and in 2016 where he was selected to the Big West Conference All-Conference Team. If he can stick at second, he should be a useful player as he develops, but probably never an impact guy.
37th round, 1113rd overall
C Christian Caudle
Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Senior
6’4”, 230 pounds
Caudle shone brightest on the biggest stages for the Javelinas. He was named to the All-Tournament team for the Lone Star Conference Championships after hitting .700 in the tournament.
Caudle struggled offensively this year after a strong junior year. Last year, the Javelinas catcher hit .386/.547/.500 over 39 games, but this year his line plummeted nearly 100 points to .290./.427/.391 However, he walked twice as often as he struck out. Additionally, Caudle hit his first two college home runs this year.
Christian is a little stiff behind the plate and slow to pop out of his crouch, so he probably fits best at a corner spot or designated hitter. He could be capable of handling a backup catching role with enough work, but he seems to fit better out in the field.
38th round, 1143rd overall
RHP Jaden Hill
Ashdown High School (AR)
6’4”, 195 pounds
The Cardinals selected someone Draft Analyst Scott Schook projected to go to them, they just decided to pick him up about 36 rounds later than mocked.
Hill has the benefit of low miles on his arm thanks to splitting time as a pitcher with time as a quarterback, where he is a three-star recruit and received many offers from mid-level college football programs. Unfortunately, after throwing for 14 touchdowns in his first four games of his senior season, Hill suffered a broken collarbone.
Hill’s fastball sits in the low-90s and touches 95, shows good life on it, and the pitch gets up on batters quickly. He adds in a surprisingly advanced changeup in the upper-70s to low-80s. He is able to throw that changeup with deceptive arm speed that make hitters look foolish, especially lefties, thanks to the arm side dive it takes. His breaking pitch definitely needs work, but he could have a solid curveball with enough work on it.
Hill finished his senior year with a 0.51 ERA while being selected as the Gatorade Arkansas Baseball Player of the Year.
Again, he has one of the Cardinals’ favorite attributes for a pitcher – athleticism. He will have to be pried away from his Louisiana State commitment, but the Cardinals have about $8 million in all to play with.
39th round, 1173rd overall
SS Zach Gahagan
University of North Carolina, Senior
6’1” 195 pounds
Gahagan is a guy with defensive versatility. He has played all around the infield with North Carolina, and that ability should continue into professional baseball. He has average speed, and he possesses an athletic body. If he figures out how to hit, that versatility could carry him to the Major Leagues.
And that’s a huge if. While he has quick hands and can turn on an inside fastball well, he lacks overall contact skills. Gahagan hit .253 in college and .259 his senior season. However, he has a good enough eye to get on base at a decent clip. He walked in 12.6% of his trips to the plate this season and put up a .360 on-base percentage. He’s displayed precious little power with only one season, his sophomore year, cracking the .400 slugging percentage mark. In fact, in over 400 at bats between his junior and senior years, Gahagan had only 27 extra base hits.
Gahagan certainly feels like organizational filler, but with the right breaks in his offensive game, he could at least be a cup of coffee kind of player for an organization.
40th round, 1203rd overall
OF Andrew Warner
Columbia College, Senior
6’2”, 225 pounds
The Cardinals end their 2018 Draft with one more senior selection who happens to be a Missouri kid at a Missouri school.
Warner dominated the NAIA the past two seasons. Last year, he hit .478 with a .872 slugging percentage which led to First Team All-AMC, AMC Player of the year, AMC Newcomer of the Year, NAIA Baseball First Team All American, ABCA/Rawlings First Team All-American honors, and 2018 NAIA Baseball Preseason All-America Team honors.
Warner received First Team honors again for his 2018 year where he hit .440 with a .887 slugging percentage and 18 home runs. Warner hit safely in 37 of the 49 games he played in and put up 24 multi-hit games. In his two years with the Cougars, Warner hit .460/.581/.879 in 339 at bats with 35 homers, 16 steals, and 31 doubles over 100 games.
Plus, he’s been able to sport an 80-grade mustache.
As noted above, TCN draft analysts Derek Shore and Scott Schook are writing the player capsules and Brian Walton is filling in the rest.
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