Continuing on with erik, fewgoodcards and picklefork on more general draft questions and drafting philosophy. . .
6) Do you think that the farm system now has enough depth that it would be a good strategy to draft players in rounds 1-3 that have high upside but might be difficult or even not possible to sign?
- Jeff Luhnow seems to think so, and that is all that matters. They graduated several of their top players and there are some players really underperforming right now, so the system isn’t quite as deep as it was. That said, all their top talent seems to be in Memphis and Springfield, so they are pretty top heavy. Infusing the lower minors with some high upside talent would of course be welcome. ~erik
- I think it would be a good idea to take a gamble on a player like that, and there is likely going to be an opportunity in round 1. Donovan Tate and Matthew Purke seem to be the two names everyone is saying have a chance to drop due to the price tag. Tate has some exciting potential, but he is not the can’t miss prospect you would look to drop a huge bonus on. Purke on the other hand is exactly what the Cardinals need, a potential top of the rotation lefty. There are some questions about his delivery (just ask Erik), but if he doesn’t get hurt he will be a star. ~FGC
- The Cards and Luhnow should be in a position to reward themselves and take a couple high ceiling, tough signs guys. They’ve turned the ship around in a hurry: they have stability, depth and (with the new pipeline into the Latin countries) some room for error early. In a scenario where they draft a very tough sign in the 1st like a Purke, Turner or Green then take a top 100 talent in the later rounds and be able to turn that 1st round money over to them in case the 1st round pick doesn’t sign. Also, being able to recoup the 1st round pick if the player doesn’t sign, makes me even more likely to gamble on a tough sign in the 1st. [azru note: If you fail to sign a player in the first three rounds, the following year you get a bonus pick in the same position. That pick, however, becomes a must sign or you simply lose it.] ~picklefork
7) If you were presented with an either or choice between going overslot on a first round talent or devoting that money to the July 2nd international signings, would you have a preference?
- I would prefer the extra budget go to the June Draft, for the mere fact these players are older, more information available and less projection from just a pure physically maturing aspect. The handlers and always constant age questions are also a concern. ~picklefork
- My preference would be the draft pick. In the draft, if you select the player you are the only team that they can sign with. With the international players, you may feel like you have a solid shot at signing one, but you just never know. Another thing is that the draft prospect is 2-5 years further along in their development. You have a lot better idea of what they are going to become, and as much scrutiny as Latin prospects are now getting you are still unsure about the background on these players. ~FGC
- Depends on who is available, but I think I’d tend to spend money on the draft pick. 16 year olds who have never faced real competion sort of scare me, although I’m excited about the amount of resources they are allocating now to Latin America. ~erik
8) You have to create a draft board. How do you go about ranking player A over player B (i.e. overall talent, upside vs downside, particular skillset, position specific)?
- I’m probably more conservative than my counterparts. In the first round I prefer hitters to pitchers, regardless whether they’re a college pitcher or a high school pitcher. I prefer up the middle guys, but I take into consideration whether or not they should stick at the position. Defense is underrated, so I would favor a guy like SS Jiovanni Mier over someone who is considered a great hitter and not much else. Upside does trump all, and it’s not like I’m against drafting a pitcher. I’m not a scout, but I try and look at deliveries when I can when ranking pitchers. For college pitchers, I would tend to favor guys with good command and control, not just hard throwers. ~erik
- If I had to put a draft board together, I would rate players first by what the maximum upside potential is. I would personally draft based on best case scenario and expect your scouts to scout well and your coaches to develop well; if the talent is there, we should be able to see and cultivate it. After that I personally put emphasis on positions that I consider rare or premium. HS SS’s to me are valuable: they are almost always the team’s best athlete and they almost always have the athletic ability to move to another defensive spot on the field if needed. If he can hit, we will find a spot for him. I also put added value on LHP: they are hard to find for a reason, they present matchup nightmares for teams and they’re worth their weight in gold in terms of trade value. You can never have enough pitching, especially from the LH side and you can never have enough athletes. On a related note, I put less value on relief pitching, to me that is something you don’t draft early and something that can be addressed with starters who never develop a 3rd pitch or have command issues during extended exposure. ~picklefork
- I think any draft board is always balancing upside and probability of reaching the majors. Obviously you look for players that are high in both, but those guys are very rare and are usually gone long before the Cardinals get to make any picks. I think I tend to be a guy that features upside a little more than probability because I believe when you are a small market team like the Cardinals that don’t sign elite free agents that is the only way you can get the star players. Of course, the best drafts will have a balance of risk and reward picks to give your system depth.
When looking at particularly what I look for in players its all about tools for uspide. For pitchers I put extra weight on guys I think will be major league starting pitchers, and to me those guys are ones that throw strikes and have more than 2 pitches. Of course everyone loves velocity, but I also like to look at the secondary pitches. If you have a high school kid with a big fastball that can also spin an above average breaker and can throw his change for strikes, you have a pretty special talent. For positon players you look at power and speed. Those guys go to the top of my list because speed usually means they can play a premium position and power means they have a chance to be above average regulars.
The stats I look at the most for pitchers are strikeouts and walks. I like to see pitchers that strike out a big number of hitters and at the same time doesn’t walk a whole lot of guys. That tells me that they are able to throw strikes, and their stuff is good enough to get swings and misses. For hitters, I like to see a guy dominate, but I don’t buy into the stats as much in college because of the aluminum bat. I go more on the scouting reports, but I do look at the number of strikeouts. I believe the truly elite college hitters that are going to really hit in pro ball shouldn’t strike out very much in college. ~FGC
9) List the top 5 LHP.
- Tyler Matzek, Rex Brothers, Chad James, Matt Purke, and James Paxton. Purke is probably better than everyone but Matzek, but his mechanics worry me. ~erik
- 1. Tyler Matzek, 2. Matthew Purke, 3. Chad James, 4. Mike Minor, 5. Rex Brothers ~ FGC
- Matzek, Purke, C. James, T. Skaggs, M. Minor ~picklefork
10) Who is your favorite draft prospect that isn’t widely talked about (excludes all first rounders)?
- My favorite draft prospect that isn’t seen as a top of the draft type of guy is North Carolina high school righty Daniel Tuttle. I saw him in the Aflac game last summer and was very impressed with his arsenal and his feel for pitching. He features a sinker that hums in anywhere from 90 all the way up to 97, and his slider is very good as well. He can also throw his change for strikes. He’s got some funk in his delivery, but he repeats it and it probably helps him get the action on his sinker. I think he has some Jake Peavy in him. ~FGC
- Jerry Sullivan, a lefty from Oral Roberts. He’s a 4th rounder but I think he has the around the same upside as Mike Minor. He’s come back from Tommy John, throws strikes, excellent command and three average to above average pitches. ~erik
- Todd McInnis a soph eligible RHP with a 88 to 91mph fastball, circle change, cutter and a plus, sometimes plus/plus curveball. Thin, reminds me of Clay Buchholz. ~picklefork