First off, a quick apology. I’ve been delinquent in my scouting reports over the last several weeks (after asking for suggestions nonetheless) but I’m hopeful that with my schedule settling down a bit, I’ll be able to get back to that.
Second, the system is, without a doubt, experiencing a real down spell right now. The draft this year was a nice diversion but the boxscores have been painful to cover as of late with very few of the top prospects having consistent standout performances. Does that mean we’ve overrated the prospects? Maybe in some cases (I’m looking at you Bryan Anderson) but we’ve also seen some serious injuries (David Freese, Jaime Garcia) and some promotions (Chris Perez, Jason Motte, and that centerfield kid).
The combination of moving some of our highly rated players up to the bigs and a system wide slump has made the minor league season a bit of a drag thus far. There’s still some bright spots out there (Daniel Descalso, Daryl Jones) and some interesting topics of discussion but I wanted to take a look back at the previous drafts and where they stand now. We’ll start with, of course, Jeff Luhnow’s first and arguably best draft in 2005.
Biggest Hits: Colby Rasmus (1st Round), Daryl Jones (3rd Round), Jaime Garcia (22nd Round)
Biggest Misses: Mark McCormick (1st Supplemental Round), Josh Wilson (2nd Round), Wilfrido Pujols (6th Round), Nick Webber (2nd Round)
Other Noteworthy Drafts: Tyler Greene, Bryan Anderson, Mitchell Boggs
Most Frustrating Talents: Kenny Maiques, Blake King
Let’s start with Rasmus. The Cardinals grabbed a player who is playing tremendous baseball at age 22. He’s a five tool talent who has the talent to be a perennial All Star and perhaps a downballot MVP. Taking a look at Round 1, you can count about 12-15 draft picks before Rasmus that have clearly not faired as well. There’s not much debate that this is the best player the Cardinals have grabbed during the entire course of Luhnow’s tenure.
The Cardinals also have two more players that have yet to spend significant time in the majors but look like they could be everyday players. Daryl Jones is a speedy left fielder with a questionable arm. The power hasn’t developed for him and he may never be more than a 15HR corner outfielder but he’s shown tremendous plate discipline since having LASIK eye surgery prior to 2008. At age 21, there’s still room to fill out and mature but even if he remains a high OBP, low SLG player, he looks like someone who can do that on an everyday basis.
If Jaime Garcia doesn’t hurt his elbow, he’s the unquestioned number 3 prospect in the system (maybe even number 2) going into 2009. The best pitching prospect the Cardinals have drafted this side of Shelby Miller, Garcia still has the potential to be a mid-rotation starter assuming his stuff returns from Tommy John surgery.
Mark McCormick had a high velocity fastball, a college pedigree and no idea where the ball was headed once it left his hand. The Cardinals were never able to harness the fastball and injuries eventually diminished the velocity. McCormick never made it past Double A.
Josh Wilson just retired for the second time. He never advanced beyond Quad Cities.
Nick Webber called it quits after last year. He moved to the bullpen but topped out at Memphis last year and, despite some groundball tendencies, never projected well in the major leagues.
Tyler Greene was drafted just 2 picks after Colby Rasmus and enters the majors the same year. A plus defender with uncharacteristic pop for a shortstop, Greene was and remains a somewhat questionable talent in the majors. His strikeout rates in the minors routinely hovered between 25% and 30% limiting his ability to hit for average and get on base at a regular clip. The jury is still out on whether he can sustain the relative success he’s had this year. He looks like a useful good glove, decent pop utility player with some chance of becoming a regular SS.
Bryan Anderson is something of a disappointment though there’s still reason to be optimistic. The power that scouts and evaluators projected from his draft time never really materialized. His defense has always been questionable but the organization has done little to properly manage the PR around him. He’s still a catcher that hits .290-.300 with a OBP that’s acceptable from a catcher. He’s been made into something of an outcast as the organization fails to deliver on a consistent path for him to the big leagues with Jason LaRue being the backup of choice right now and the inexplicable Matt Pagnozzi rearing in AAA. That said, this was and remains a player who, given his position, has value just by being on the field even if he doesn’t hit or field tremendously well.
Mitchell Boggs is another slight enigma. His stuff, to my eye, is much better than his results. With a live fastball and a good, if inconsistent, curveball, he’s shown the ability to get major league hitters out. What he hasn’t shown is the ability to consistently strike out minor league hitters, which seems odd if you just watch him pitch. There’s still the potential for him to stick in the back end of the rotation or possibly in the bullpen.
Kenny Maiques and Blake King were both drafted as fastball-slider guys with heaters sitting 92-93 and touching 95 and, allegedly, devastating sliders. Health issues for Maiques and command issues for both have derailed whatever prospect status they had.
Overview: This draft didn’t really provide a lot of organizational filler. The departure of Tyler Herron makes the draft look a little weaker. What this draft did have was three high upside picks that all look awfully close to coming to fruition. My suspicion is that we won’t uncover this kind of talent in reviews of subsequent drafts.