In the 2006 draft, the Cardinals were coming off their second 100 win season and being the best team in the regular season. Drafting in the last position, they selected a live arm with potential but unrefined secondary stuff. 6 picks later, the Marlins would take Chris Coghlan.
Adam Ottavino and Chris Coghlan have both tasted the majors. Coghlan has, undeniably, had more success taking home the Rookie of the Year in 2009. Ottavino was well regarded coming out of the draft though:
Ottavino was the America East Conference pitcher of the year in 2005 and followed that up with a 2-2, 1.76 summer in the Cape Cod League, but he really burst onto the 2006 draft landscape when he held then-No. 1 Georgia Tech hitless through six innings in his first start of 2006. He struck out 12 Yellow Jackets over seven innings, despite losing 2-1. His best start of the year came a month later, when he threw a no-hitter while striking out 14 against another of the nation’s highest-scoring teams, James Madison. Ottavino’s best pitch is a 92-94 mph fastball that touches 95, and he complements it with a power slider that could become a plus offering. He also throws a slurvy breaking ball that projects as an average pitch if he can clean it up, and a changeup that is just a show pitch. Ottavino has a loose, easy delivery and could add velocity as he continues to fill out his lanky frame. Mechanically, Ottavino has a little tilt in the back of his delivery that causes him to get under the ball sometimes, but his arm is strong enough to compensate. His current stuff, his projection and his calm mound demeanor make for an attractive package.
I’ve long been intrigued by Ottavino’s stuff though he’s never quite put together the whole pitching package. Chris Coghlan was drafted as a 3B and spent most of his time at either the hot corner or the keystone over the course of his minor league career. He’s played the outfield for the Marlins displaced to date by Dan Uggla and Wes Helms. At the time of the draft though, he was considered a viable infielder:
While Coghlan has never hit more than six home runs in a college season, he’s a polished hitter who is a good bet to hit for average with a wood bat. He took a step toward proving that last summer when he won the Cape Cod League batting title with a .326 average. He doesn’t generate above-average bat speed, but like Georgia Tech third baseman Wes Hodges, he has a penchant for making solid contact. He uses the entire field, has exceptional plate discipline, good plate coverage and works counts well. He caught briefly when he was younger, and a club could be tempted to move him back there, considering his lack of power at third base. Second base is another option. Coghlan has good hands and moves well to both sides. He has an average arm.
Hard to find fault in this decision though Coghlan has obviously been better to date. It’s at least noteworthy that Coghlan’s sophomore campaign was much less impressive than his rookie one. Ottavino still has some chance to stick in the majors, likely as a reliever, but that window of opportunity will only remain open for so long. At the time of the 2006 draft, I can’t fault the Cardinals for this pick sequence.