What’s up, folks? I thought I would check in to give you guys the best analysis on the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft as possible by acquiring the insight of ESPN and Prospectinsider.com’s Jason Churchill, and FutureRedbirds.com’s Erik Manning. Check it out:
Overall, how do you feel the St. Louis fared in the draft?
Jason Churchill: They did well, but much of that is based on the luck of Zack Cox falling to them. I’m lukewarm on Seth Blair at 46 overall, but Tyrell Jenkins is a good value at 50 and Cody Stanley at 139 could be a great pick as well.
Erik Manning: Luhnow and company were blessed with some good fortune, but it also takes guts throw caution to the wind and draft some players with signability concerns. I don’t think in their wildest dreams that Zack Cox would be available at #25, or for that matter that Tyrell Jenkins would be still be available at #50. I was thrilled with those two picks, and I liked the some of the mix of players they were able to get throughout the rest of the draft.
How important was it for the Cardinals to draft well with multiple first day picks, considering the scarcity of legit prospects in their farm system?
JC: It’s important to maintain ground versus the rest of the league in the draft, in my opinion. You can’t punt the draft like the Dodgers appear to have done and expect to stay with the rest of the National League and west division. The economic stimulus of baseball is your farm system, so regardless of how deep the Cards’ system was heading into the draft, they needed to hold serve, and I think they did that and then some.
EM: It was definitely pivotal to restock after trading for Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa last season. I think more often than not, the smart thing to do is offer Type A and Type B free agents arbitration. If they re-sign, you can still trade them for prospects, as the Braves did with Rafael Soriano. If they don’t re-sign, then you get the extra draft picks. I think Joel Pineiro and Mark DeRosa for Seth Blair and Tyrell Jenkins is a nice deal.
Why did Cox fall so far in the draft?
JC: Cost and signability, first of all, and perhaps the rib and back injuries a little bit. One interesting note is that he has been invited to play for Cotuit on the Cape and if he decides to play could a) show the Cards that he’s healthy and b) give them another look at him swinging a wood bat.
EM: Cox fell because of signability concerns. He is a draft eligible sophomore and the word was he was looking for Pedro Alvarez money. I don’t think he’s going to get $6 million, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him break the Cardinals’ record for bonus money given to an amateur after they set the record signing Shelby Miller last year. I do feel fairly confident that the Cardinals are well aware of what type of money it will take to get him signed, and they’ll get it done.
How soon do you think we could see Cox competing for a spot on the Major League roster?
JC: Best-case scenario… probably sometime late in 2011, but most likely in spring training 2012.
EM: Not too long at all. Keith Law gave him a present 55 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale, meaning he’d probably hit for a decent average in the major leagues right now. There’s other facets of his game that could use work, namely his power and defense, but I wouldn’t expect him needing a ton of time in the minors. I would expect him to split time in Double-A and Triple-A next year, assuming he signs. He could be up in St. Louis about this time in 2012. That may sound overly optimistic, but that’s my prediction and I’m sticking to it.
What do you think the Cardinals failed to address, if anything, in the 2010 draft?
JC: Trick question, because until you get to late rounds and are simply filling your organization with what I like to call “protectors” or “preventatives,” teams should be drafting for talent level not to address needs. There aren’t any glaring misfires in their draft, though they would receive better grades had they popped A.J. Cole over Blair and either Adam Plutko or Kevin Gausman prior to round six — and been willing to pay them. But it’s hard to fault them for taking such a risk.
EM: They said their priorities were getting left-handed pitching, power bats and speed, but that they’d draft the best available player and not just focus on need. I think they did alright in the lefty pitching department in the first ten rounds, but they didn’t fare so well in the power bat arena. But I’m glad they didn’t reach for the sake of need and took the pitchers that they did. (I’m referring to Jenkins, Blair and Swagerty.)
Is there anyway the Cardinals could sign both Cox AND Wilson? If not, what do you believe the reasoning was for selecting Wilson in the 12th round?
JC: They’d have to really open the check book, but sure, they could. Wilson is going to cost first-round money and Cox will require over-slot, so that’s a $5-plus million pair at minimum. Why would they take Wilson? Three reason come to mind. One, to give them the outside shot to get him under contract. Two, to prevent a club such as the Yankees or Red Sox, or worse, the Cubs or Mets or Phillies, from taking him and gaining the same opportunities. Third, the Cardinals can develop a relationship with the player and his adviser during the negotiating period, get a better feel for what kind of fit Wilson can be in the org — both on and off the field — which gives them a better shot to successfully re-draft him in 2013 and get him to sign.
EM: Where there’s a will, there’s a way, but it’s a two-sided street. From what I gather, the deciding factor for Wilson isn’t so much about money but about his and his family’s desire for him to get a good college education. He doesn’t even have an advisor, so he’s apparently pretty committed to going to school. However, the Cardinals have some educated people in their front office who could perhaps find a way to get creative. My hopes aren’t too high that they get both, but it would be a major coup if they are able to. It’s not a waste to take him in the 12th round, as the return rate on players drafted that low aren’t real high.
Do you believe the Cardinals have significantly upgraded their farm system with the acquisition of Carlos Matias, and a well executed draft?
JC: Depends on what qualifies as significantly … We have to remember that other clubs had draft picks, too, but I do think St. Louis is paying attention to their system more the past 18 months. Shelby Miller led their draft class of 2009 and with another strong draft this time around, the system is certainly deeper and much improved overall. Whether they have gained ground — there is that term again, because it matters more than a grading the system in a vacuum — remains to be seen.
EM: Assuming the Matias deal is approved and they sign Zack Cox and Tyrell Jenkins, then yep, I’d say that’s a significant upgrade. I don’t know if they’ll jump back up to being the 8th best minor league system like they were two years ago, but they’ll move from out of the cellar and maybe in mid to upper twenties.
Who do you like in rounds 1-10 that people might not know much about?
JC: I like Jordan Swagerty, but the interesting part of his selection is that maybe he catches down the road rather than comes in out of the pen. He’s with Wareham on the Cape as a catcher, too. Sam Tuivailala, the shortstop from Aragon HS in California is an intriguing bat who probably moves to third or the outfield, but has some tools with which to work.
EM: Luhnow said Greg Garcia is a “plus-plus” defensive shortstop, and his hitting stats are better than what they look like on paper, as Hawaii is a hitter’s graveyard. John Gast was a 5th round pick a few years ago, but has struggled a bit since coming back from Tommy John. He could be an interesting lefty specialist. For what it’s worth, against lefties he struck out 10 per nine innings, and posted a 5.6 ground-out to fly-out ratio. I really like the overall skill-set represented by Cody Stanley as well. There’s just no weak side to his game, and he should have the chops to stick at catcher.
What pick puzzled you the most from the Cardinals 2010 class?
JC: Blair at 46 and Jenkins at 50 — while neither are bad picks in any form or fashion — when several better talents were still in the board. Had they taken any combination of Stetson Allie, Brett Eibner, A.J. Cole, Brandon Workman, Marcus Littlewood and Cody Buckel, they’d probably have earned themselves an “A” grade. I also think I would have gone Chad Bettis, Mel Rojas, Jr., Micah Gibbs or Derek Dietrich at 75 instead of Swagerty, but I don’t think their draft puzzled anyone, except for maybe themselves.
EM: Picking Sam Tuivailala in the 3rd round had me scratching my head a little bit. I like the selection based on what I’ve read, but it’s clear he was a lot higher on the Cardinals’ list than on some of the major publications draft boards. I trust the Cardinals on this one, obviously, as it’s their necks on the line. Is he a pitcher or a hitter? If he’s a hitter, can he stick at shortstop based on how big he is already? He sounds like a good athlete, it’ll be interesting to see if he can eventually translate those tools into skills now that he’ll be focusing strictly on baseball. He’s only 17 years old, so I would expect him to move more slowly through the system than other prospects.