Hey y’all. Nope, still can’t pull it off. Oh well. I thought I would give it a shot, seeing as how I haven’t been around here much at all for quite a while.
You know, I was actually planning a post today taking that long-promised look at the Cincinnati farm system, but something erik put in his GCL wrap just a couple of days ago changed my mind. And I quote:
I don’t want to pick on Gary Daley any more than I already have, but when was the last time you’ve seen a 5/32 K/BB ratio? From a 22 year old in rookie ball? From a third round pick? That’s just…wow.
That got me to thinking. Over the past few years, the Cardinals have shown a proclivity for drafting a certain type of player, a certain draft demographic, if you will. I’m speaking, of course, of the raw college pitcher. A bit of an odd breed, to be honest. Traditionally, teams would draft one of two ways. If they wanted upside and talent, they would draft a raw high school kid. If they wanted experience and polish, they would draft a guy out of college, who was much closer to being a finished product. The Cardinals, however, have bucked that bit of conventionality by taking pitchers out of college programs who have had relatively poor results, often are considered very raw, and generally just need quite a lot of work.
Anyway, I immediately decided that, rather than discuss the Cincinnati Reds and their prospects, I would take a look at some of the pitchers that the Cardinals have taken out of this specific segment of the draft, and see if they’ve had any success at it. Chris Lambert- Lambert was taken in Jeff Luhnow’s very first draft with the Cardinals, the 2004 debacle. We all know the story by now, no crosscheckers, the assistant GM running the thing, flying just on instruments, etc. Still, this is an interesting pick, as the very first selection the Cardinals made with Luhnow on board just happened to come from a demographic that Luhnow went back to again and again.
We all know the story on Lambert, so I won’t rehash it here. Suffice it to say, the Cards’ 2004 first round draft pick was basically three months of Mike Maroth. I don’t think anything more needs to be said.
Mark McCormick- When the 2005 draft went down, I’ll admit that Mark McCormick was the player I was most excited about of the bunch. He had been clocked as high as 103 mph at times during his college career at Baylor and had a big hammer curve. Basically, the kid was Kerry Wood, just out of college.
This past season, McCormick made it to Double A for the first time in his career, at age 24. While at Springfield, he threw 23.2 innings, struck out sixteen batters, and walked eighteen. He also gave up five homers. Put it all together, and you get a 7.40 FIP. Ouch. McCormick has had injury issues as well, making him a very long shot to ever make it to the big leagues at this point. Not so good for a supplemental round pick.
Adam Ottavino- Ottavino was a hard thrower who was always more hittable than he should have been in college at Northeastern. After three years as a professional, he’s still a hard thrower who just happens to be more hittable than he should be. He was drafted thirtieth overall in the first round of the 2006 draft.
Like McCormick, Ottavino took a shot at Double A this year. Sadly, also like McCormick, Double A shot back. And how. Ott put up a 5.23 ERA, a 5.10 FIP, and a 96/52 K/BB ratio. Oy. Another first rounder that isn’t working out so well.
Gary Daley- When Daley was drafted, the club spoke of him having front of the rotation stuff, despite lackluster numbers in his college career. Daley was taken in the third round of the ’06 draft, and after three years, he-
You know what? Nevermind.
Eddie Degerman- Funky, Iron Mike delivery notwithstanding, I just don’t really see what the Cards saw in Degerman. He was taken in the fourth round out of Rick University.
He walked almost fourteen percent of the hitters he faced this season, which is the main problem with Degerman. He does strike out a lot of batters, allowing him to post an acceptable 4.49 FIP, but you don’t much like his chances of being a big contributor.
Brad Furnish- You know what I know about Brad Furnish? Two things. One, his agent seems like a pretty cool guy. Two, he was drafted over Brett Anderson in the second round of the ’06 draft. Anderson was a high schooler at the time, while Furnish was an underachieving lefty out of Texas Christian University. Furnish was known for having very good stuff for a lefty, but struggling to get a hold on his talent.
Two years later, Anderson is one of the top prospects in the Athletics’ system. Furnish came back from minor surgery this year and tried to get healthy. Not really his fault he got hurt, of course; just pointing out where each of them are.
When he’s been healthy, Furnish has actually pitched pretty well, to be honest. He had an ERA under 2.00 at Springfield this year, in 22 innings. Unfortunately, he had a 4.35 FIP to go along with a 4.86 in high class A. If Furnish could ever stay on the field, he might yet be effective, most likely out of the bullpen. See? It’s not all bad.
Clayton Mortensen- The Cards’ supplemental round pick out of Gonzaga in 2007, Mort cause quite a stir when he was drafted. He came to spring training this year and pitched pretty well before being sent down to Memphis. Unfortunately, after being promoted to Triple A midseason, Mortensen seemed a little out of his league, began nibbling, and predictably struggled.
Of all the pitchers on this list, I think I still like Mortensen the most. I think, with his repertoire, that he could definitely be an upper half of the rotation sort of pitcher. It’s just going to take a bit longer than some of us thought at the end of March.
David Kopp- One of my very favourite players in the entire farm system, largely due to his beautiful delivery, Kopp was taken in the second round out of Clemson in 2007. Unfortunately, Kopp hurt his shoulder and is currently running the gauntlet of medical personnel. There have been some rumours floating around that Kopp didn’t hurt his shoulder pitching, but I’ve been as yet unable to determine if that’s true or not.
I admit, I’m still a big Kopp fan. He’s got excellent stuff and great mechanics. Hopefully, his arm troubles will turn out to be just speedbumps on his way to major league glory.
Now, this isn’t necessarily a definitive list, by any means. Still, I think we have a large enough sample here to conclude that the raw college picher hasn’t been particularly good to the Cardinals. Yet still we see them go back to the same move every year.
I have to say, I just don’t get it.