photo: Tony Locey (University of Georgia)
By Blake Newberry and Brian Walton
The second day of the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, with the St. Louis Cardinals selections being made by AGM/Scouting Director Randy Flores, consists of eight selections in rounds 3-10 on Tuesday, June 4.
Overall, through Day 2, encompassing these eight picks and the two made on Monday, the Cardinals have been allocated $6,903,500, the 22nd-largest signing bonus allocation.
A year after they took nine collegians and two high schoolers through 10 rounds, the Cardinals selected nine college and one prep player in 2019. The big difference is in the pitching count – flipping the script from just three of 11 in 2018 to seven of 10 this June. This appears to be a direct reflection of current system need.
To reference the Cardinals’ new draft class on an ongoing basis, each player will have a profile located on a holding team called “2019 DRAFT UNSIGNED PLAYERS”. This can be accessed at the bottom of the drop-down menu in the red column in the left menu called “ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES” or click here.
Click on each player’s photo to be taken to their player profile page here at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biographical information.
See 2019 Draft Day 1 details here.
Return 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, starting at noon ET 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 analyst Blake Newberry.
St. Louis’ selections – 2019 Draft Day 2
Third round, 96th overall
RHP Tony Locey
University of Georgia, Junior
6’3”, 239 pounds
With their third pick, the Cardinals dipped into the college pitching pool once again, to help replenish their stock of pitching prospects.
Tony Locey is athletic and a very hard thrower. His fastball consistently sits between 92-97 mph and he can carry that velocity deep into games. He struggled with control early in his Georgia career, but things started to come together for him as a junior. He reached double digit strikeout totals in four starts this year and allowed two earned runs or less in 12 of his first 14 games.
Locey’s go-to secondary offering is his slider. It flashes plus at times, with hard, late break, but he can struggle to control it. Once he gets a consistent feel, it will be a plus pitch. He also throws a curveball, but it lags behind his slider in terms of development. It has some shape to it, but he does not have much feel for it. However, it can work primarily to throw hitters off balance, especially when they are gearing up for his high velocity fastball.
Even though Locey is more of a power pitcher than a finesse pitcher, he improved his control this year, with most scouts giving him an average grade. He has a high ¾ arm slot but needs to repeat his delivery more consistently to improve his command.
The right hander will likely be developed as a starter initially in the Cardinals organization. If he can improve his control of his secondary offerings, and especially show more feel for a curveball, he could become a decent major league starter. However, if he gets moved to the bullpen, he could touch 100 mph with his fastball and lean more on his fastball-slider combination to move quickly through the minor league system.
As an interesting note, he pitched in the same starting rotation in high school as University of Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm, who is a likely first round pick in next year’s NFL draft.
The pool amount for this pick is $604,800.
Fourth round, 125th overall
University of California Irvine, Junior
6’1”, 203 pounds
The Cardinals draft strategy is becoming obvious as they select their third college junior pitcher in their first four picks.
Pallante won third team All-America honors as a sophomore at UC Irvine and played for USA Baseball’s collegiate national team last summer. He was the Friday night starter for UC Irvine and put together a solid season.
His fastball routinely sits 90-92 mph but has been clocked as high as 97 mph out of the bullpen. The pitch shows great late life, which allows Pallante to induce a lot of soft contact, even though he does not get too many swings and misses.
His 82-84 mph slider is his main secondary offering with most scouts considering it an above-average pitch. He also throws a below-average curveball and an 80-84 mph changeup that shows some promise. He has also shown an ability to pitch backwards which allows him to keep hitters guessing with a varied usage of his off-speed pitches.
Pallante has proven himself to be a strike-thrower throughout his collegiate career and has a track record of durability. This combined with his ability to throw four pitches gives him potential to be a back end of the rotation starter. However, some scouts are worried that his funky delivery will cause him to struggle with command. He does repeat his delivery fairly well though, so some of this concern could be overstated.
Many scouts believe that he will end up in the bullpen due to his size and delivery, and this would allow for his fastball and slider to play up. However, the Cardinals will most likely start him in the rotation to see if he can develop his other secondary pitches more and make his way up to the majors that way.
The pool amount for this pick is $455,600.
Fifth round, 155th overall
Georgia Tech, Junior
5’11”, 173 pounds
The Cardinals select another college pitcher with a feel for at least three pitches and the chance to develop into a starting pitcher. This pick also bolsters the Cardinals left-handed pitching depth. In five rounds, the team has taken four college pitchers, including two left-handers.
Thomas had a fantastic sophomore season for Georgia Tech in 2018, striking out 106 batters and only walking 10. He had a 6-1 strikeout to walk ratio this year showing his high pitchability and very good command of his entire repertoire of pitches. He has a low velocity fastball that sits in the 86-89 range. However, despite this being a below average pitch, he commands it very well and is capable of hitting his spots and not leaving it over the plate.
Thomas also has a plus slider and an above-average changeup that generates plenty of swings and misses. His mix of pitches is very good, and even though he can be susceptible to giving up hits due to his low velocity fastball, he is still capable of throwing lots of strikes and getting outs due to his plus secondary offerings and plus command. He is a pitcher that relies heavily on deception, but he is very good at it.
Thomas is not very projectable with his slight frame and most scouts believe that he will end up in the bullpen which would allow his fastball to tick up into the 90’s. However, if he can pitch similar to Adam Wainwright this year and mix his pitches and not throw too many fastballs, there is reason to believe that he could not end up in the big-league rotation.
Despite his low fastball velocity, Thomas had a lot of success at Georgia Tech and was a two-time all-ACC selection.
The pool amount for this pick is $340,000.
Sixth round, 185th overall
Florida Atlantic University, Junior
6’1”, 234 pounds
With this pick the Cardinals selected their first position player of the second day of the draft. However, it is a position (catcher) that has a high impact on a pitching staff.
Pages is a big-bodied, high-energy backstop who should have the ability to stick at catcher. He has very good catch and throw skills and has also received high marks for his receiving ability and his leadership behind the plate. He threw out 17 of 25 runners that attempted to steal for a very good 68% caught stealing rate.
Offensively he has good power potential but needs to improve his hit tool. However, Pages has hit over .300 in back-to-back seasons, albeit against lesser college competition. He has also improved his plate discipline and batter’s eye throughout his college career as his walk rate jumped from 7% in 2018 to 16% in the spring.
Ultimately, how much value this pick will have in the future will come down to how much Pages can hit. If he can tap into his hit tool a bit more, then his power will be able to stand out and raise his value.
Pages is also bilingual (he speaks Spanish and English), which will allow for more comfort and better communication with pitchers.
The pool amount for this pick is $261,600.
Seventh round, 215th overall
RHP Jack Ralston
6’6”, 231 pounds
The Cardinals continued their trend of drafting college arms with the selection of redshirt junior Jack Ralston of UCLA. However, he has a much larger build than the other pitchers selected.
Ralston struggled most of his collegiate career, and in the Cape Cod League, to throw strikes. However, this spring he figured out how to use his 6’6” frame and found a consistent delivery, which led to him throwing more strikes.
He has an explosive, over-the-top, windmill delivery which is a different look for many hitters and makes them feel uncomfortable due to the unique movements of his pitches. Ralston’s fastball sits 91-94 mph and his size gives him the durability to hold onto that velocity deep into games.
His go-to pitch is an overhand curveball with a very high spin rate that makes analytically driven organizations like the Cardinals very excited. The pitch has good depth and travels at 80-82 mph. It draws a lot of swings and misses and is very hard for hitters to square up. This is likely the pitch that will allow him to rise through the organization.
Ralston also throws a fringy changeup that has been pretty effective in college, but some scouts believe that the changeup will not do nearly as well in professional ball.
If he wants to become a starter, he will have to prove that his improved command is real, and that he has three viable pitches. However, at this point it appears that he will become a reliever and will possibly be a fast riser.
Ralston struck out 107 batters in 95 1/3 innings of work this spring, showing the swing-and-miss potential that scouts crave, especially on the second day of the draft.
The pool amount for this pick is $204,800.
Eighth round, 245th overall
RHP Logan Gragg
Oklahoma State University, Junior
6’5”, 199 pounds
The Cardinals have continued to focus heavily on college pitchers as this draft has progressed, and this pick is no different. However, Gragg is different from the kind that the Cardinals have previously drafted as he is a bit of an upside play who is considered to be more of a project than some of the other pitchers still on the board.
Gragg began his collegiate career at Connors State Junior College in Oklahoma before transferring to Oklahoma State. He needed Tommy John surgery in 2017 and is still a work in progress since the surgery.
He served as a swingman for Oklahoma State last year as he both started and came out of the bullpen. His fastball is consistently in the low 90s and can get as high at 96 mph. He has an inconsistent breaking ball that can act like a slurve at times, but flashes plus. He also has a solid changeup that he used pretty well last year for OSU.
However, Gragg’s biggest flaw is that he does not throw a lot of strikes. He has a big frame that he still has not figured out how to use and that has led to an inconsistent delivery as well as command issues. He is a project for the Cardinals Player Development staff as they need to help him find that consistent delivery that would help him throw more strikes and turn his breaking ball into a plus pitch. This could be the difference between Gragg being a valuable pick or a miss. If he can get his delivery and command issues figured out, he has the potential to become a solid starter in the Cardinals’ system.
There is some projectability left in his frame that could give him the ability to add some velocity to his fastball and that makes him an intriguing pick.
The pool amount for this pick is $167,800.
Ninth round, 275th overall
OF Todd Lott
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
6’4”, 235 pounds
The Cardinals finally selected their second position player of the day, and similar to the first, Pedro Pages, it is all about the power with Todd Lott.
Lott is full of power potential in his large frame and has even displayed plus-plus raw power in batting practice. However, he has struggled a little bit to turn his BP power into game power as he managed just 18 extra base hits this spring. However, he did hit .332 with a .897 OPS, so he does appear to have an enticing hit tool as well. The right-handed hitter also improved his plate discipline this spring by drawing more walks after he posted a 30-2 strikeout to walk ratio as a sophomore. There is still a decent amount of swing and miss in his game despite these improvements and he needs to cut down on that in order to consistently tap into his considerable raw power.
Lott played first base and some left field in college, and some scouts think he might have to DH because of his below average defensive abilities. However, the Cardinals are a little more optimistic on his defensive abilities and will try to turn him into a professional outfielder. He is also a below average runner so he may be limited to left field duties, while possibly recording some innings at first base.
However, as Jose Martinez has shown, if a player is a good enough hitter then it can be worth it to play him in the outfield even if he is a defensive liability. Lott might need to follow that path.
Ultimately, the success of this pick will come down to how much Lott can hit, and how often he can tap into his plus-plus raw power.
Another interesting tidbit about Lott is that he is the cousin of hall of fame NFL safety Ronnie Lott. One similarity of these two is their propensity to hit either people or baseballs very hard.
The pool amount for this pick is $152,000.
10th round, 305th overall
RHP Jake Sommers
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Senior
6’2”, 190 pounds
The final pick of the second day followed the established trend followed by the Cardinals – college pitching.
Sommers pitched out of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s rotation in 2018 and struggled to the tune of a 6.53 ERA but following a move to the bullpen in 2019 he was much better. In the spring he compiled a 3.60 ERA in 30 innings. Sommers struck out 37 batters, but also struggled with control as he walked 16. Working in the late innings, he recorded 10 saves.
There might be a little projection left in Sommers 6’2” frame, but for the most part his fastball should be expected to work in the 90-93 mph range, while topping out around 95. His fastball velocity actually improved as the season progressed. This could be due to a number of factors, including a slight mechanical tweak, or simply settling into a bullpen role and becoming more familiar with how much he could let loose.
Sommers has a max effort delivery which means he could continue to struggle with his control, so his delivery might need a little more refinement in order to avoid high amounts of walks in the future. His main secondary pitch is a slider which is inconsistent but could become plus with more refinement. It appears that he may remain a reliever in the professional ranks.
Sommers showed a significant statistical improvement in his four years in college. His 3.60 ERA in his senior year was the first time that his ERA ended below 5.48 and his 11.1 K/9 was the first time he finished the season above 8.5.
The pool amount for this pick is $143,600.
As noted above, TCN analyst Blake Newberry is writing the player capsules and Brian Walton is filling in the rest.
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