Since 2000, the Cardinals have had 7 Compensation/Supplemental/Sandwich round picks after the first round. With 3 picks in the Sandwich round this year, let’s take a look at the previous sandwich rounds and the type of players the Cardinals decided to pursue. (Obvious caveat, all of these players were selected by a previous drafting and development team.)
Mark A McCormick 6’2″ 195 10/15/1983 – College RHP
McCormick was the typical high upside starter with a fastball that hit 97 already. However, he wasn’t all raw coming out of Baylor as a 21 year old. As I reminded on the 2005 draft look back: “Smooth delivery brings mid-90s FB that can hit 97. Throws two hard breaking balls from a 3/4 delivery. Sinking change-up. Stuff is dominant enough to be top MLB starter.”
McCormick looked the part of the rare high-upside college pitcher.
Tyler D Herron 6’3″ 190 08/05/1986 – High School RHP
Herron was a high school pitcher and selecting one can be like picking a lottery ticket in the draft, but with a glowing draft writeup like this, why wouldn’t the Cardinals take a chance? “Medium, slender build. Square shoulders. Body similar to Brad Radke. Smooth delivery. Live two-seam FB that runs in on RHH. Maintains velocity, hits spots. CB has sharp, 3/4 break through zone. Deceptive change when down in zone. Throws three quality pitches.”
Notice two things in this writeup, first “live two-seam FB” as this draft was around the time of the Anthony Reyes 2 seam fastball controversy. The Cardinals were getting a HS pitcher in their system that already threw one. And secondly “maintains velocity”, which does not list what his velocity was, only that he kept it there, which implies it was not an impressive velocity.
Christopher R Perez 6’4″ 225 07/01/1985 – College (Closer) RHP
The Cardinals picked a fast-moving college closer in Perez in the sandwich round in 2006. And the Cardinals were right, Perez made his major league debut in 2008. MLB’s draft report has this to say about Perez on draft day: ”A former starter, he has taken to the closer’s role after a shoulder injury necessitated the move, saving seven games as a sophomore and then emerging as one of the best short relievers in college ball. Perez primarily uses a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a lot of life.”
Clayton G Mortensen 6’04″ 180 1985-04-10 – College RHP
Mortensen was a college senior when the Cardinals drafted him in 2007. He was considered the typical fast-moving high floor draftee. The Cardinals were right about the fast-moving part, he was close enough to the majors in 2009 to be one of three for Matt Holliday.
MLB has this to say: “While there are often college seniors who make very good pros, it’s rare for there to be one like Mortensen, a legitimate “prospect” on the rise in his senior season. He’s got three usable pitches and a body frame that appears able to handle added strength, which could make his fastball even better. He should be a very intriguing senior sign this summer.”
Michael L Lynn 6’05″ 250 1987-05-12 – College RHP
The Cardinals took Michael “Lance” Lynn in the 2008 sandwich round, cries went up across Cardinal World about another high floor, low ceiling right handed starter in the sandwich round. However, the Cardinals were right again and Lynn was up in St. Louis by 2011.
MLB’s draft report was damning Lynn with faint praise from day one: “Lacking great pure stuff, Lynn is a level behind the elite college arms in this Draft class. But he makes the most out of his average offerings with excellent command, a knowledge of how to pitch and a real competitive streak on the mound. He’s done a good job of maintaining his weight this year and will have to continue to do so as a pro. He won’t wow you, but he’s the type who could be a solid innings-eater who presumably won’t take long to be big-league ready.”
“Lacking great pure stuff”, “average offerings”, “maintaining his weight” were all ugly phrases for Cardinals fans to see on draft day, but Lynn has improved since his draft day and has turned his faint praise into real praise.
Seth Blair R / R 6′ 2″ 185 03/03/1989 – College RHP
Another high ceiling college right-hander for the Cardinals in the Sandwich round and the natives were getting restless. Blair was hurt and didn’t get started until 2011 and hasn’t gotten going in 2012 yet because of another injury.
“Blair opened up many eyes with his first start of the year, when he threw harder than he had previously and all of his stuff, while inconsistent, was electric. He dialed it back after that, but still showed glimpses of having three, maybe more, above-average to plus offerings. Command issues have led to high pitch counts, which in turn make some think he’s destined for a job as a reliever, though a team may at least give him a chance to show he can’t start with that full repertoire. The glimpses he’s shown could very well be enough to get him off the board on Day 1 of the Draft.”
“Glimpses” and “command issues” are the two buzz words here that scared fans. We have only seen glimpses of Blair so far with only 21 starts to his name in the minors, but his command issues are still an issue with 6.83 BB/9 so far.
Tyrell Jenkins R / R 6′ 4″ 192 07/20/1992 – High School RHP
Hallelujah! The Cardinals picked a high-upside pitcher in the sandwich round! Tyrell Jenkins had a football commitment to Baylor, which may have dropped him to the bottom of the sandwich round, but the Cardinals were able to sign him away from that. Jenkins has moved slowly, but as a high-school draftee, that is to be expected.
Here is MLB’s scouting report: “A three-sport standout with a football commitment to Baylor, Jenkins might be one of the top pure athletes in the Draft class. He’s still a little raw on the mound, though he commands the baseball better than you’d think considering how little he’s focused on the craft. He has a very high ceiling to go along with an above-average fastball, a breaking ball that’s solid, and even a feel for a changeup. The upside plus the athleticsm will likely get him selected by a team that thinks it can sign him away from heading to college.”
“Very High Ceiling” left the Cardinals draft watchers very short of breath indeed.
Seven out of seven times, the Cardinals selected a right handed pitcher in the sandwich round since 2000. I’m not going to go out on a limb and say that they will go three for three with right-handed pitchers in the sandwich round this year, but you can expect one of the three will be and RHP. There were 5 college pitchers selected and 2 high school pitchers. When the Cardinals had two selections in the sandwich round, they went with one high floor pitcher and one high ceiling pitcher and I think you will find that same risk/safe approach come draft day, especially with the limited draft allocation pool the Cardinals will have to work with. Two of the sandwich picks are probably going to be easier to sign players and one should be a high-upside risky and expensive player. And lastly, the sandwich round does not exist in a vacuum, a lot of what the Cardinals will do in the sandwich round depends on what they do with their first two picks in the first round and how much risk and money they will have already allocated.