And now we arrive at the 2007 draft where the pick in question centers around the Cardinals first choice overall: Pete Kozma. At the time of the draft, Kozma was billed as a jack of all trades and master of none. 16 picks later, the Reds selected Todd Frazier with the 34th overall pick in the first supplemental round. At least this conversation won’t be about Rick Porcello, right?
Lots of people were critical of the Kozma pick at the time of the draft, you’ll find some of those people here, because he didn’t look like a first round pick. The Cardinals were out to get a shortstop that draft cycle though and Kozma was the best choice within a limited field.
There may not be a true middle infielder drafted in the first round this year, but Kozma is as good a candidate as any. He impressed scouting directors when his team made a swing through Florida in late March, and he had a three-homer game in an Oklahoma 6-A playoff contest. Kozma has no true standout tool, but he also has no glaring weakness. He grades out as average to slightly above-average in every tool except power, and he does have pop. His instincts help him play above his physical ability at bat, on the bases and in the field. He has good plate coverage and uses the entire field, projecting as a future No. 2 hitter in a big league lineup. Coming into the spring, some scouts questioned whether he’d be a long-term shortstop, but he has no doubters now. A Wichita State recruit, Kozma draws raves for his consistency and energy as well.
It’s unfortunate that none of this report still seems applicable to Kozma today. I’d be hard pressed to label his defense or offense as average or better. He struggles mentally in the field and his game would seem to have deteriorated since the draft.
I was a fan of Todd Frazier during the draft though I liked him as more of a supplemental pick. The Reds snatched him up two selections before Clayton Mortensen was drafted by the Cardinals. Frazier is and has been regarded as more of a third base prospect than a true shortstop. Here’s his draft time report:
Todd is the third Frazier brother who will be drafted, following Jeff (Mariners) and Charlie (Marlins) in the legacy of the famed Tom’s River, N.J., Little League teams of the late 1990s. He has been a three-year starter at Rutgers and carved a reputation as a solid all-around player with a long track record of performance despite a modest tool set. He raised his profile by showing plus power with wood last summer with the college national team, but scouts are apprehensive about his long-term ability to hit for average because of unorthodox swing mechanics. He’s a solid-average runner with adequate hands and an average arm, tools that might play at third base or second, but not at shortstop. His instincts and makeup are outstanding, and if he gets to his power as a pro, he’ll play his way into a big league lineup. He should be drafted no later than the second round.
He’s hit at every level he’s played thus far recording a .258/.333/.448 line in 500+ PAs at AAA last season. It’s not a world-beating line but it’s also his WORST season to date and he’s still an above average player relative to AAA competition. If Frazier cuts down on his strikeouts, he could be an excellent offensive talent.
The question for the purposes of this series has been whether the Cardinals “missed” on their choice of infielders. I have a hard time arguing that Frazier was a mid-first round talent at the time of draft. Obviously, I’ve long thought the Kozma pick was a miss but I’m not sure I would have pushed for Frazier that high despite my penchant for him. While Kozma was a clear miss, I have a hard time holding the draft team responsible for not finding Frazier in our farm system.