School: University of Arkansas
Selected 2010 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (2): For the second straight season, the Cardinals went above slot and signed the best player on the board when the team drafted in the first round. In 2009 it was Shelby Miller and this past June it was Zack Cox. The former Arkansas Razorback fell due to bonus demands. ,p> Most scouts thought Cox represented the most polished bat in the draft and the Cardinals must have thought so as well. The organization gave the left-handed hitter a major league contract, something it had not done since J.D. Drew came into the fold.
Cox has a solid line drive approach and the ability to hit to all fields. His power should develop and he appears to have the tools to play third. There has been some talk that he could move to second but I think the Cardinals will play him wherever his bat allows him to move the quickest.
Message board community (2): Zack Cox elicits more varied opinions than your average top level prospect. Some think he is a future all-star who will hit for average as well as power while others see him as a major leaguer but with little power and a mediocre average.
The same disparity exists on the defensive side as well where some think he is capable of manning either second or third in an above average manner while others think he won't even be able to handle third base at a level high enough to play there on a regular basis (ultimately moving to left field or first base). The bright side of this is that nearly all see him as having a high enough floor to definitely be a major league regular.
Obviously the Cardinals see him on the high side of those opinions or they wouldn't have given him a $3.2 million major league contract. For now, despite the cry from many fans, they intend to keep him at third rather than the possibly higher value second base (he played both positions in college). Most likely they are getting a decent average, medium power guy who can advance to the majors quickly and be an adequate third baseman.
The biggest issue with Cox as we enter 2011 is where he will start the season. The Cards have said he will start anywhere from low A to Double-A depending on his spring but it is hard to imagine the Cardinals not pushing him quickly given his major league contract and the money they gave him. - CariocaCardinal
Brian Walton (2): The Cardinals took a calculated risk by sending their 2010 first-round pick to the Arizona Fall League after just a handful of Gulf Coast League at-bats. The 21-year-old started very slowly, but improved as he went along, with a .324 average and a .993 OPS over his last ten games. Overall, his 14 RBI in 18 games tied for 22nd in the AFL.
Cox' Arizona hitting coach Derrick May was among those favorably impressed.
"Great makeup, great work ethic," the system's new hitting coordinator observed. "He is always the first one here. He is hitting early, he is fielding, he is doing whatever it takes. He is a guy who understands the opportunity that he has and he is not taking it for granted. Here is a guy who has a major league contract. He is not sitting on his laurels. He wants to live up to that. He is here. It shows."
While May acknowledged Cox suffered through a slow start to his AFL season, going just 1-for-17 initially, the coach wasn't all that surprised or concerned.
"The thing is with him is that he didn't have a chance to play," May said. "I think he just had 15 or 16 at-bats (in the GCL). That is tough to make that jump and coming here, you're going to face a whole lot of advanced pitchers. Double-A pitchers, Triple-A pitchers, you've even got some guys with a little bit of big league experience."
I expect to see Cox in the hitting-heavy Texas League in 2011 with the system's Player of the Year Matt Carpenter's year prior a good overall measuring stick. Higher power but lower batting average is my projection.
Our 2011 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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