The closer you get to the present, the harder it is to evaluate a draft. 2007 isn’t so far removed that we know how things are going to turn out but it is far enough back that we’ve got an idea of what some of these players have done in their pro careers. If 2005 brought upside and 2006 brought a lot of fringe depth, 2007 looks to me like it may have a lot of mid level league average type talent in it.
Biggest Hits: The First 5 Picks
Biggest Misses: Thomas Eager (5th Round), Oliver Marmol (6th Round)
Other Noteworthy Drafts: Tyler Henley, Adam Reifer
Most Frustrating Talents: Kyle Russell (4th Round)
When you have to dig down past the first 5 picks to find a miss, that’s a pretty good start to the draft. This draft started off with the now infamous Pete Kozma pick. Kozma has already made it to AA and while many, including myself, have called that promotion premature, he’s having a very good June hitting .278/.341/.486. Kozma still projects to stay at SS although there are some questions about his vaunted defense.
Clayton Mortensen might be one of the more underrated minor league arms in our system. He’s got some lingering command issues that cause a higher walk rate than desireable but he strikes out batters and, most importantly, generates a ton of groundballs. He’s 6th in the PCL in GB% behind a bunch of crafty older guys and 1 real prospect (the A’s Vin Marazzo). That’s a skillset that’s not going to show up in his FIP but does help explain how he consistently outperforms it. Remember too that he’s backed by a shady Memphis infield defense (Wallace at 3rd, Hoffpauir at 2B and whatever motley assortment of outfielders are manning 1st). Put Mortensen in front of a St. Louis infield and the results could be very good.
David Kopp was the Cardinals third overall selection. He’s been hampered by injuries (shoulder) but when on the field, has shown the same type of groundball, strikeout characteristics at Mortensen. Health will always be the question mark with Kopp (despite many internet proclomations about his great mechanics) and he could find himself in the Most Frustrating Talents group in a year or two.
The 4th pick for the Cardinals was reliever turned starter turned reliever turned destroyer of the world, Jess Todd. With 39 strikeouts in 30 innings and just 9 walks, Todd is showing us everything that Chris Perez could be. Todd’s pure velocity isn’t as good but his slider rates well and, more importantly, he knows where his pitches are going. Perhaps the most compelling reason to try and trade one of Perez or Motte is found here in the Cardinals 2007 draft class.
The 5th pick (3rd round) didn’t even make the FR Top 20 although he’s certainly opened eyes since then. With an OPS over .900 in Springfield, Daniel Descalso has put himself on the map as the first legitimate 2B prospect in years for the Cardinals. At 22 Descalso has flashed some real gap-to-gap power with 24 doubles and a great approach at the plate with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Whether he can carry the power over to Memphis will be the biggest question moving forward.
Thomas Eager is the counterpart to the Gary Daley affair of 2006. Another pitcher out of Cal Poly, Eager has shown little command of his pitches pitching in Palm Beach. Oliver Marmol is a light hitting shortstop whose bat hasn’t developed. Neither player projects as more than a minor leaguer.
Scouts were divided on what kind of big league potential Kyle Russell would have. After setting HR records his junior year, the Cardinals drafted him in the 4th round only to watch negotiations become sluggish and far too public. FR wasn’t immune to the allure of Russell’s raw power as we clamored for the 4th rounder who would immediately jump toward the top of prospect lists. Russell never signed and was drafted in 2008 by the Dodgers. He’s raking right now with a .945 OPS . . . but it’s in the Midwest Leauge (Low A) and at age 23, the clock is already ticking. Despite the shiny OPS, Russell is stiking out in nearly 30% of his PAs in low A, which is a rather ominus sign.