Seven Cardinal Players Drafted

The two-day MLB draft is complete with seven Cardinal players hearing their name called. Ace starting pitcher Greg Reynolds headlines the list with the selection at #2 overall to Colorado. All four seniors will begin their professional careers once the college season ends while two more juniors have the option of going pro or returning to the Farm for one more year.

The last 36 hours were life-changing experiences for a handful of Stanford players.  The 2006 season is on-going with the Cardinal participating in the super regionals at Oregon State this weekend with a chance to reach the College World Series.  But for seven players, the opportunity now is on the table to continue their baseball careers at the professional level.

Greg Reynolds headlined the list of Stanford players chosen in the Amateur Draft when he was selected with the second overall pick by the Colorado Rockies.  The 6'7" right-hander entered the year as a possible first round selection after his fantastic summer in the Cape Cod League that saw him record a 1.70 ERA.  Always high on potential, Reynolds fulfilled that promise at the collegiate level this year as the Cardinal's Friday night starter.  Entering the weekend, Reynolds boasts a 7-5 record to go with a 3.36 ERA spanning 120 2/3 innings. 

The Bay Area native has the coveted combination of power and control with a fastball that regularly sits in the 91-to-93 M.P.H. range to go with the mastery of multiple off-speed pitches.  Reynolds has walked just 28 batters this season compared to 99 strikeouts.  That's an eye-catching 3.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Reynolds gradually moved up the draft boards as the season progressed until shooting into the top ten with a dominant final month.  The flame-thrower has tossed five complete games in his last six starts outdueling fellow first rounders Brandon Morrow (5th pick) and Tim Lincecum (10th pick) along the way.  The end result was his second overall draft selection which ties him for the highest a Stanford player has even been chosen (Steve Dunning - 1970). 

There may be a couple of players rated higher in this year's draft than Reynolds (North Carolina's Andrew Miller comes to mind), but the Rockies are banking on being able to sign the Stanford ace with few-to-no hiccups involved.  At the end of the process, Reynolds may find himself signing a contract that includes a three million dollar-plus bonus.

Two seniors were drafted next in Chris Minaker (10th round, Seattle Mariners) and John Hester (13th round, Arizona Diamondbacks).  Minaker, who has been Stanford's starting shortstop since midway through the 2004 campaign, has enjoyed a breakout season.  An All-Conference performer, Minaker is currently hitting .363 with 20 doubles, 11 home runs, and 68 RBI.  He's also played an excellent defensive shortstop committing only one error in his last 31 games.

Hester returned to Stanford for his final year despite a 34th round draft selection last June by the Boston Red Sox.  Hester has the big, strong catchers body that scouts crave and will join former Stanford players Carlos Quentin and Chris Carter in the Diamondbacks minor league system.  Hester is hitting .274 for the year with 12 doubles, two home runs, and 25 RBI.  The numbers may not be mind-boggling, but to have a senior behind the plate this season has certainly helped Stanford's cause in the leadership department both in the dugout and on the field with handling the pitching staff.

Blake Holler was also a 13th round selection when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tabbed the junior left-hander.  After racking up solid numbers in his first two seasons on the Farm (44 APP, 10 GS, 10-5, 3.93 ERA, 112 1/3 IP), Holler has endured a difficult last calendar year. 

Last summer in the Cape, Holler was roughed up to the tune of a 9.00 ERA in 13 innings.  His struggles continued back at Stanford as the southpaw's current ERA checks in at a lofty 8.85 over 10 appearances (20 1/3 innings).  Holler though has been a target for scouts for many years dating back to his high school days spent on the US Junior National Team.  A left-handed pitcher with a fastball in the high 80's and solid pure stuff across the board was too much for the Angels to pass up in the 13th round. 

Seniors Matt Manship (29th round, Oakland Athletics) and Chris Lewis (32nd round, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) were the next two Cardinal players chosen.  Manship has made 86 career appearances in his four years wearing a Stanford uniform.  A key reliever in his initial three seasons, Manship has racked up 17 career saves which is tied for second all-time on the Farm.  His senior campaign has been spent primarily in the starting rotation with many ups-and-downs.  Now back in the bullpen, Manship is 2-6 on the year with a 5.59 ERA over 66 innings. 

Lewis is one of the biggest reasons for Stanford's turnaround over the last 1/3 of the season.  In his second year as a full-time starter, the veteran struggled mightily throughout February and March with a batting average below .200 and an extraordinarily high amount of throwing errors from his second base position. 

But the Southern California native found his groove and has quickly become one of the most dangerous hitters in the Pac-10.  For the year, Lewis has bumped his batting average all the way up to .311 while his eight home runs and 48 RBI are both good for second on the team.  In addition, Lewis has committed just three errors in his last 34 games in the field.

The quartet of seniors on this year's team qualified for the NCAA Tournament in all four of their seasons while they're each now trying to advance to their second College World Series.  Now all four will have the opportunity to continue their careers at the next level.

The final Stanford player chosen over the two-day draft was junior outfielder Jim Rapoport (35th round, St. Louis Cardinals).  A 39th round selection by Cleveland out of high school, Rapoport will be an interesting case to follow in the upcoming weeks.  A highly touted recruit entering Stanford, Rapoport enjoyed a solid sophomore campaign in 2005 when he hit .297 with three homers and 16 stolen bases.

A rough summer in the Cape Cod League (.162 AVG) followed by a drop in production as a junior at Stanford (.249 AVG, 2 HR, 3 SB) though moved Rapoport way down on the draft board.  Rapoport ended the regular season just barely clinging to a starting spot in left field (after losing his center field position to classmate Ryan Seawell).  It remains to be seen whether Rapoport will take advantage of this current situation (even if the bonus money is very low) and strike a deal with the Cardinals thus foregoing his final year at Stanford.  Or if he returns in the Fall in an attempt for a breakout season (much like Minaker and Lewis) which should result in a much higher standing in the '07 draft.

Only two incoming recruits were selected in right-handed pitchers Jeff Inman and Brandt Walker.  Inman is a hard-throwing right-hander out of Bakersfield, California with a fastball the sits in the 90's.  A top five round talent, he was eventually drafted in the 19th round by the Kansas City Royals.

A national Top 100 recruit, Walker was eventually taken by the Texas Rangers in the 21st round.  A pick by the hometown team could potentially complicate matters, but look for Walker to enroll at Stanford beginning in the fall.  Both Inman and Walker would probably have to be offered an extraordinary amount of money for them to not wear the Cardinal and White.

Two-sport standout Toby Gerhart, a national Top 50 recruit, was not drafted.  Gerhart, who also excels on the football field as a running back, is expected to contend for immediate playing time in the outfield next season.

2007 DRAFT
There's no question that Michael Taylor will be the Stanford player on everyone's list entering the 2007 season.  A potential first round pick out of high school, not a single team selected Taylor two years ago thanks to his strong commitment to the Farm.  Taylor is enjoying a solid sophomore campaign having broken out of late to raise his season batting average to .326 to go along with five homers and 39 RBI. 

Taylor has already enjoyed plenty of success with a wood bat when he hit over .300 last summer in the Alaska League.  Continued success in the Cape this summer could go a long way to cementing Taylor as a potential first round selection next June.

On the pitching side, Nolan Gallagher headlines the list of Stanford players.  Gallagher has moved into the starting rotation late this year and currently boasts a 5-4 record to go along with a 3.75 ERA in 62 1/3 innings.  A hard-thrower, Gallagher also features a devastating curve ball that is already making him very attractive to the pros.  A good summer in the Cape could pave the way for Gallagher to become next year's Friday ace followed by a top-five round selection in the '07 draft.

2007 draft eligibles participating in high-profile summer leagues:
Cape Cod League
- Erik Davis, RHP
- Nolan Gallagher, RHP
- Brian Juhl, C
- Michael Taylor, OF

Alaska League
- Ryan Seawell, OF

Northwoods League
- Randy Molina, 3B

Injured Adam Sorgi (.322 AVG in 2005) also will be draft eligible next June.

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