St. Louis Cardinals Pick Six to Conclude 2020 Draft

photo: Masyn Winn (Perfect Game)

By Blake Newberry and Brian Walton

The second and final day of the 2020 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, with the St. Louis Cardinals selections’ being made by AGM/Scouting Director Randy Flores, consists of six selections in rounds 2-5 on Thursday, June 11.

St. Louis’ initial Day 2 selection is Texas high school shortstop-pitcher Masyn Winn.

Overall, encompassing these six picks and the first-rounder named on Wednesday, the Cardinals have been allocated $7,901,100, a total which they can exceed by up to five percent if they choose (this is a correction).

The Cardinals and the Giants have the most Thursday selections, with St. Louis’ two extra picks added via the Competitive Balance program and in compensation for the loss of free agent Marcell Ozuna.

See 2020 Draft Day 1 details here.

Cardinals Select Jordan Walker in 2020 MLB Draft’s First Round

For more

Return to this article at The Cardinal Nation often on Thursday evening and beyond as information about all St. Louis’ draft picks will be posted shortly after they are made. Also, at the end of the evening, we will add comments by Flores, so please check back often.

All player capsules are written by The Cardinal Nation analyst Blake Newberry.

St. Louis’ selections – 2020 Draft Day 2

Second round, 54th overall

SS/RHP Masyn Winn
Kingwood (TX) High School
5’11, 180 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Another pick, another high school player as the Cardinals seem to be targeting high ceiling prep talent in the early rounds of this draft. Winn was announced as both a right-handed pitcher and a shortstop, meaning that the Cardinals may give him the ability to play both positions in the minor leagues. In the field, there are no questions that Winn should be able to stick as a shortstop due to his elite athleticism and strong throwing arm. Scouts also raved about his instincts as the position which add to his strong upside in the field. However, if there is a negative it is that he plays the game too fast and that can lead to mistakes. However, as he matures this may become less of an issue.

On the mound, he is electric despite his diminutive size for the position. He has a fastball that typically sits between 92-96 miles per hour and can reach 98 and 99. Like most power pitchers, his secondary offering is a slider that some scouts have rated as a plus pitch, even though it can get slurvy at times. This is as well as a less advanced changeup is a common problem for young pitchers, and these are issues that Winn will have to work through if he sticks on the mound. However, despite his inconsistent control, he certainly has the athleticism to make adjustments.

At the plate, Winn has shown good bat speed and has also hit a couple balls with higher than a 100 mph exit velocity at showcases. This gives him potential for a decent amount of power despite his lack of size. Additionally, Winn is capable of running a 6.5 second 60-yard time, which gives him the potential to be dangerous on the base paths. His swing is pretty simple with some late bat action that could lead to problems against more advanced pitching unless he is consistent with it. However, the ball jumps off his bat when he connects, and like many high school hitters, his biggest flaw at the plate seems to a propensity to chase balls out of the zone.

Overall, Winn is an exciting player with very good potential on the mound and in the field, and his main flaw seems to be that he plays the game too aggressively. This can lead to mistakes in the field and an overly aggressive approach at the plate. However, with a little more refinement, he could learn to slow the game down and become a very good prospect.

Winn has committed to the University of Arkansas, but it seems unlikely that the Cardinals will have much difficulty signing him.

The pool amount for this pick is $1,338,500.


 
Competitive Balance Round B, 63rd overall

RHP Markevian (Tink) Hence
Watson Chapel High School (Pine Bluff, AR)
6’1”, 175 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Tink Hence

For the second pick in a row the Cardinals have selected a high school right-hander committed to the University of Arkansas. Hence is still very raw as he has yet to turn 18 years old, but he has a very live arm and a feel for three different offspeed pitches. Hence, who goes by “Tink,” has a fastball that typically sits between 91 and 93 miles per hour and can touch 95, which is solid for a prep pitcher who weighs just 175 pounds.

Tink Hence (Future Stars Series)

What is most impressive about the Arkansas commit is that he has a feel for both a curveball and a slider and they are both separate and distinct pitches. Most high school pitchers and even some college ones have a tendency to combine these two pitches into something that resembles a slurve, but Hence’s ability to throw both of these pitches has caused most scouts to give him plus potential for each breaking ball. He also throws a changeup that definitely lags behind his other three pitches but has a chance to be average. It is the potential for four average or better pitches, as well as room to fill out his frame that makes him an exciting prospect.

If he can add polish to his four-pitch mix and refine his mechanics a bit, he could become a dependable starter with the ability to throw a fastball in the upper 90’s. His advanced feel for his offspeed pitches gives him clear starter potential, but as a young high school player he will likely need more developmental time than some of the other options at this point in the draft.

The pool amount for this pick is $1,076,300.

 
Second round (supplemental), 70th overall

OF Alec Burleson
East Carolina University
6’2, 212 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Alec Burleson

With the pick that the Cardinals gained as compensation for losing Marcell Ozuna to the Braves in free agency they have selected another player with two-way potential, although Burleson was announced as an outfielder. Despite decent results on the mound, he does not really have any standout attributes and will likely play the outfield in pro ball unless something changes in his career.

At the plate Burleson has a more advanced hit tool than power tool even though his size gives him plus raw power. The left-handed hitter struggled at the plate during his freshman year, posting just a .607 OPS in 103 at-bats. However, he bounced back in a strong way as a sophomore, posting a .370/.399/.573/.972 slash line with nine home runs (0 as a freshman). One worrying part of his game is his lack of interest in taking walks as he walked just 14 times as a sophomore. His strikeout rate was just under 9%, however, so he is at least very good at making consistent contact. He got off to a hot start this year before the season was cancelled, batting .375 with three home runs in 64 at-bats.

Alec Burleson (East Carolina University)

Burleson has a pretty simple swing with a very small amount of movement. His stride is simply a timing mechanism as he lifts his front foot off the ground and then sets it down in almost the same spot when he is ready to swing. The lack of movement in his body during his setup and load helps him make lots of contact, but the Cardinals may try to tweak his swing in order to make it a little more violent so that he can add power.

In the field, Burleson profiles as a corner outfielder or first baseman as he has limited athleticism. His strong throwing arm from his pitching days should give him enough strength to stick in right field, but scouts say that he has a good feel for first base, so that could be another option for him.

He is clearly a good hitter, and even though his lack of power may be somewhat concerning due to his defensive profile, the Cardinals are likely hoping that he will develop some over-the-fence power as he matures. This is the first college player that the Cardinals have taken, and even though he is far from a complete player, he should be a pretty safe pick due to his hitting ability. If Burleson can develop power and take a few more walks, could be a very good all-around hitter, but his current hitting ability makes him a safer pick than the Cardinals’ first three selections.

The pool amount for this pick is $906,800.


 
Third round, 93rd overall

LHP Levi Prater
University of Oklahoma
6’0, 184 pounds
Bats: Both
Throws: Left

Levi Prater

After the Cardinals’ first three selections came out of the high school ranks, their last two picks have been college players. Prater was certainly productive as he posted a 4.09 ERA in 33 appearances out of the bullpen as a freshman before tallying a 3.26 ERA in 80 2/3 innings out of the rotation as a sophomore. Additionally, despite his small frame, he showed strong strikeout numbers as he fanned 97 hitters. He was also off to a decent start in 2020 as well as he posted a 3.42 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings. Another notable thing about Prater is that he was left with just two fingers on his right hand after a lawnmower accident when he was two years old. However, he has been able to overcome this and turn himself into a solid all-around pitcher.

Many scouts do not think that Prater has very strong tools as a pitcher, as he does not have a true dominant pitch or elite size. However, he makes up for this with good deception, toughness, and competitiveness on the mound. His fastball sits at just 90-91 miles per hour but occasionally reaches 93-94. He has also shown a slider that he throws effectively to both lefties and righties, as well as a changeup that is pretty effective as well. Scouts believe that all three pitches will eventually become average, but without elite velocity, Prater will need to rely on command and deception if he wants to make it into the big-league rotation.

In terms of mechanics, Prater sets up on the first base side of the rubber and his body turns in slightly when he winds up. This allows him to hide the ball from the hitter for a split second longer. This is how he creates deception that allows his lack of elite swing-and-miss stuff to produce better results. Additionally, the southpaw has a long stride that allows him to release the ball closer to the plate, which could help his fastball seem a bit faster.

Due to Prater’s small frame and lack of high-end velocity, some scouts think he will eventually become a reliever, so that his velocity can tick up higher, maybe even into the mid-90s. However, with a solid three pitch mix and some deception in his delivery, Prater might be able to stay in the rotation as a back-end starter.

This is a pretty standard Cardinals draft pick – a productive college pitcher with pitchability in the middle or later rounds. The Cardinals have been very good at developing pitchers, and especially college pitchers, so they will be hoping to do the same with Prater.

However, Prater is not a slam dunk to sign. Note that this is the last of the Cardinals selections for which they could receive a 2021 compensation pick if the 2020 draftee does not come to terms – unless MLB changes its rules in the interim.

The pool amount for this pick is $627,900.

 
Fourth round, 122nd overall

RHP Ian Bedell
University of Missouri
6’2”, 198 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Ian Bedell

Bedell is the second consecutive college pitcher, and fourth pitcher taken by the Cardinals overall. His selection also sticks with the Cardinals trend of drafting young players, and especially players that are young for their class, as Bedell skipped his high school senior season to enroll early at Mizzou. Additionally, none of the pitchers St. Louis drafted have elite size, and Bedell fits that trend. He was rated as the No. 88 prospect on MLB Pipeline entering the draft.

Like Prater, Bedell lacks high-end velocity, as his fastball sat just 89-91 miles per hour this year out of the rotation. It ticked up to 95 miles per hour when he pitched out of the bullpen last year though, and he will probably end up throwing consistently in the low 90s. His changeup is his next best pitch with most scouts believing that it will eventually become an above-average offering. He also throws a curveball that can be occasionally slurvy, as he does not have great feel for the pitch yet. He is also working on a slider, and he will need to separate those two pitches in order to have a solid starting-caliber arsenal.

Bedell’s calling card is his command. He is somewhat limited in terms of pure stuff, but he is able to locate his pitches well and does a good job of limiting of his walks. Additionally, he is very athletic and very confident on the mound and those appear to be traits that the Cardinals were targeting with their pitchers this year.

Bedell also had decent production in college for Mizzou, although he did have a limited track record as a starter. He struggled in seven appearances as a freshman, but then he dominated as a long reliever in his sophomore year, when he posted a 1.56 ERA in 40 1/3 innings with a 3:1 K/BB ratio. Bedell moved into the rotation as a junior in 2020 and compiled a 3.70 ERA in four starts while maintaining a strong 35:4 K/BB ratio. Additionally, he posted a 0.59 ERA as a starter in the Cape Cod League last summer.

There is some risk that Bedell will not make the grade as a starter, but he had strong results as a reliever in college, so he should have a pretty high floor. He could benefit from adding a couple more ticks onto his fastball so that he can reach the low-to-mid 90s consistently, but if he can develop all of his secondary pitches, he could get by as a starter who is able to locate his four pitches well.

The Cardinals are probably hoping that the athletic pitcher can make adjustments and control his mechanics well enough to develop into a back-end starter, but he at least has the potential to be a solid reliever.

The pool amount for this pick is $469,000.

Fifth round, 152nd overall

OF L.J. Jones IV
Long Beach State University
6’0”, 225 pounds
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

LJ Jones IV

After opening the draft with three straight prep selections, the Cardinals closed with four consecutive college choices. L.J. Jones is the final pick of the Cardinals and is a bit of an unknown. In fact, he was not even listed among Baseball America’s top 500 draft prospects. However, this does not mean that he is not a promising prospect.

Jones arrived at Long Beach State and played a big role for the team in his freshman season. He slashed .312/.358/.408/.766 while striking out in just under 15% of his plate appearances in 2018. He was looking to build off this success in his sophomore year, but he made just one plate appearance before taking a pitch off his hand and missing the rest of the season. Jones returned in 2020 and slashed an improved .327/.377/.509/.886 but he only received 55 at-bats before the season was shut down. He had an unlucky college career that resulted in him taking a medical redshirt and dealing with the COVID-shortened season. However, the Cardinals clearly believe that he has the talent to play in professional baseball as a fifth-round pick.

Jones is very similar to the Alec Burleson, the Cardinals’ compensatory round draft pick because he is a corner player with a strong hit tool but not a lot of power. The Cardinals are likely banking on him developing power once he reaches pro ball, and with a sturdy 6’0”, 225-pound frame, he has the build to hit more balls out of the yard. It is concerning that he hit just three home runs in his college career, and also took just 11 walks. These are things that he will need to work on, but the Cardinals were clearly enamored with him ability to hit the ball consistently.

Jones has interesting hitting mechanics. He stands nearly upright before striding forward to get into a more athletic hitting position. He creates a good bat angle that looks geared towards fly balls, meaning that there could be more home run potential in his swing. The right-handed hitter also has very good bat control as he has shown a strong ability to hit outside pitches the other way instead of trying to pull them. However, he does have plenty of strength in his swing as he crushed an opposite field home run early in 2020.

Overall, Jones has very good ability to hit the ball and looks like he could have more power in his swing and his frame. On the defensive side, it is likely that the Cardinals will start his career in the corner outfield. However, with the Dirtbags he also played some first base  and should be able to move there if he does not stick in the outfield.

The Cardinals were likely drawn to Jones because of his strong hitting, and that will likely be his carrying tool in the professional ranks.

The pool amount for this pick is $350,300.


Draft day 2 reactions and updates

Winn hugs his Mom, Tiffany Rawson.

“The hug was everything that we have been through all the time,” the 18-year old told the Houston Chronicle. “Through all those tournaments, losing a lot of vacations,  and we really dedicated everything to baseball. This is what we did it for. Everything came true today.”

Winn is expected to sign.

Bedell also appears to be ready to roll.


Flo and Mo post-draft

Scouting director Randy Flores and PBO John Mozeliak hosted a post-draft media conference call Thursday night, touching on all six newly-drafted players.

Mo on Winn’s two-way potential: “Because he is young, he gives you opportunities to allow him to be experimental. Clearly, ultimately players are going to be wanting to move as quickly as they can and they will probably find a comfort zone they will enjoy doing. Most people, like us, will probably gravitate to what we most like to do and are having success doing. So we are just going to have to strike that right balance with him. He is clearly a very special player and the more you watch him – and candidly, I can’t wait to see him in real life – he is going to be a fun player to watch.”

Flo on Hence: “When Tink is this young and has this kind of feel for his breaking ball, and you can see his body and physicality growing over the fall, the leaps he had made even from the summer circuit into that fall showcase in Jupiter and some of the looks we were able to get on video this spring, there was belief that his best days were ahead… When you combine that kind of jump in performance with the kind of jump in stuff, we really do think there is a ton more in there, as well.”

Flo on Burleson: “Our goal and our anticipated plan is for him to focus on hitting. One of the things we are excited about is a player like that who commits to hitting has a chance to have even more in the bat than our belief that he is already showing. We do believe that he commands the strike zone well and it is certainly nice that he is left-handed. As someone who had spent time two ways, we like the bat better. That also carried him to Team USA. To get power there with some versatility and upside from a college player at that spot in the draft is something that we were excited about.”

Flo on Prater’s (and all draftees’) signability: “Signability is of utmost importance on all of these picks. When we made the selection, we were pretty confident and are confident we are moving toward an agreement.”

Flo on Bedell: “Our belief and our scouts’ belief and our analytics belief and our process belief is that there are better days ahead for Ian Bedell. At least better days compared to his first few starts his junior year. We would have assumed, anticipated and believed his season would have turned around. That is a make-believe season and that is what is so fun about this job. You are projecting. Projecting the unknown and making a bet. And we wanted to make a bet on Ian Bedell.”

Flo on Jones having been out since 2018: “We have time on our hands. There isn’t baseball going right now so there is continued time for continued recovery. Our scouts who saw him, both live and on video really liked the passes he took at the baseball. There is a chance at power there. And with his age being what it is (he turns 21 later this month), with time on his side, I think we are in a good spot to make that bet in that fifth round and see how his continued progression on that time off the field continues to improve our belief in the power potential in that bat.”


Your authors

As noted above, TCN analyst Blake Newberry is writing the player capsules and Brian Walton is filling in the rest.


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