Let’s cover the first retrospectively questionable decisions made in the 2005 draft: Mark McCormick over Jed Lowrie.
In both instances, we’ve got the Cardinals taking a questionable arm over a position prospect. Here’s the 2005 pre-draft scouting report on Mark McCormick from Baseball America:
McCormick showed a first-round arm in high school, when his fastball rarely dipped below 92 mph and reached as high as 98. But he slipped to the 11th round in 2002 because he was primarily a one-pitch pitcher and showed a lack of composure on and off the diamond. The reputation followed him throughout his first two years at Baylor, but he has made strides as a junior. McCormick has the most electric arm in Texas, still pitching at 92-95 mph and often touching 96-98. He peaked at 101 mph last summer in the Cape Cod League all-star game. McCormick got hit hard early this spring before he started keeping his fastball down in the strike zone. His curveball is much improved now that he trusts it and uses it more often, and while it can be inconsistent it also can be an out pitch. He has done a better job of throwing strikes and has made every start after missing one due to a suspension and six with shoulder stiffness in 2004. McCormick does not come without questions, however. Because his command can be sporadic, he doesn’t always dominate. Scouts still worry about his makeup and his ability to handle pressure. His adviser, Scott Boras, is always an issue for teams, though he’s considered one of the more signable players in Boras’ stable. In spite of the concerns, McCormick should go off the board in the second half of the first round.
Things fell in to place just like BA predicted with the Cardinals taking McCormick using the 43rd overall pick in the first supplemental round. McCormick would battle injuries throughout his 4 years in the Cardinals system but he was undone mostly by his command. It’s an intriguing scouting report and it’s easy to see why the Cardinals were interested.
Jed Lowrie’s was, to my eyes, a little more pessimistic of a brief:
After going undrafted out of an Oregon high school in 2002, Lowrie emerged as a potential first-round pick a year ago when he won the Pacific-10 Conference triple crown with a .399 average and 17 homers, and tied for the lead with 68 RBIs. But he raised a red flag with scouts during the summer when he hit a team-low .230 with only one homer using a wood bat for Team USA. The previous summer in the Alaska League, also using wood, he hit .224. He hasn’t performed well this spring, either, as he was hitting .328 with 12 homers most of which came in a two-week spurt in February. In fairness, Lowrie has been pitched around in a depleted Stanford lineup and has gotten few good pitches to hit, making him impatient. Though he stays balanced throughout his swing and takes a big cut for his size, Lowrie has an unorthodox approach at the plate. He keeps his hands low and has a high leg kick. A switch-hitter, he is a much better hitter from the left side. He is also a solid defender with good footwork and enough arm strength to fill in at shortstop in a pinch. Scouts have compared Lowrie to current big league second basemen Chase Utley and Adam Kennedy, who were both first-round picks from California colleges, but they say Lowrie is a better defender than both.
There’s a couple of things that stand out to me. First of all, the negative report of Lowrie with a wood bat for Team USA. The Cardinals are avid followers of the Cape Cod league because it gives them a chance to see hitters with wooden bats. They have made many a draft based on a great summer performance coupled with mediocre college hitting. The second is the rather questionable defensive report that implies he’d be better at second. Teams don’t often draft players at 2B but rather use it as a fall back position. The good but not great defense likely played a role.
The other aspect of the 2005 draft with Lowrie is that the Cardinals selected Tyler Greene, a true shortstop, with the 30th overall pick. His report:
The latest Georgia Tech shortstop to wear No. 5, Greene falls somewhere between Nomar Garciaparra and Victor Menocal, now the Yellow Jackets first-base coach. Greene has had a roller-coaster college career, struggling defensively as a freshman (31 errors) but surprising with the bat. As a sophomore, he made just 11 errors but hit .273. In the last two summers, Greene showed aptitude with wood, hitting a team-best .431 with four homers for Team USA in 2003, then batting .296 in 2004 in the Cape Cod League, where he was the No. 2 prospect. Greene’s junior season was delayed by an offseason broken jaw. When he came back, he showed scouts the tools to be drafted again in the second-round range, as he was out of high school. Green is a 60 runner (some say 70 under way) on the 20-80 scouting scale, with good instincts on the basepaths and elsewhere. A plus arm and good range make him at least an average defender at short. The question is offense. His hands are just OK both at the plate and in the field. Greene’s swing has evolved to a metal-bat, inside-out style that doesn’t incorporate his hands, short-circuiting his power and leaving him with several holes. His aptitude with wood, however, reminds scouts of Cubs prospect Matt Murton, who also hit better in summers on the Cape than with Georgia Tech.
An erratic player, Greene would likely have widely varying scouting reports. He was always a tools bet. The Cardinals thought they could refine his fundamentals and turn him into something more productive. With his selection 30th overall, they chose a power arm later in the round over Jed Lowrie.
I don’t see anything that jumps out at me from the scouting reports. Indeed, I think we’d be thrilled to see the Cardinals draft someone like Greene today. The holes in his swing are still true unfortunately and the inability to make consistent contact will always hold him back. Power isn’t as much of an issue as it’s portrayed but I think, even with hindsight, this was a solid pick.
The problem, if there was one, would likely be in betting on a flawed pitcher over a flawed position player. That’s still tenuous ground to make criticisms on and since I wasn’t following the draft as closely as I do now, I’ll leave it at that.
Tomorrow, we look at Josh Wilson and Yunel Escobar.