Cardinals 2011 Draft Review: Position Players

Dustin Mattison reviews the professional debut of the position players the St. Louis Cardinals selected in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

The St. Louis Cardinals brought in an interesting mix of polished college hitters and raw toolsy prep players during the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Recognizing the system lacked up-the-middle difference makers, the organization addressed this issue with the first four picks, bringing in arguably the best college hitter in the draft and three exciting high school athletes.

Of the team's first 10 picks, five were hitters that came from the high school ranks. During the previous five drafts, the Cardinals had taken only three high school hitters total in the first 10 rounds (58 picks).

Of the team's fifty picks, 24 were hitters. Of that group, four were nabbed from the junior college ranks, nine from the prep ranks, while the remaining 11 came from four-year universities.

Overall, the college hitters had more success in their pro debut while many of the prep hitters struggled.

Here is a review of the 18 signed hitters.

Kolten Wong (1)
The University of Hawaii product had a fine professional debut at the Quad Cities. Wong showed the polish that the Cardinals hoped for by posting a line of .335/.401/.510 with five home runs and 25 RBIs. The second baseman stole nine bases in 14 attempts while drawing 21 walks and striking out only 24 times.

He was electric during the month of August, hitting .456/.500/.632 in 13 games. During the clinching game of the Midwest League Playoffs, Wong collected a pair of hits and scored a pair of runs. During the playoffs, he hit .286 while serving as the River Bandits' leadoff man.

Charlie Tilson (2)
The prep outfielder appeared in only eight regular season games after not working out a deal with the club until the signing deadline. Making four appearances in the Gulf Coast League followed by four games for Johnson City, Tilson hit a combined .333/.400/.407 with five RBIs and a stolen base.

C.J. McElroy (3)
The centerfielder had his ups and downs during his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League, but overall, it has to be judged a success. Raw but toolsy, the 18-year-old finished with a line of .228/.303/.278 but he did hit .360 against lefties. On the bases, McElroy stole eight bags in 10 attempts.

Kenny Peoples-Walls (4)
After an abysmal first month of the season in the GCL, the shortstop finished respectably during the month of August. During the final stretch, Peoples-Walls hit .260/.356/.280. Overall, the California native struck out in over 25% of his at bats. A work in progress in the field as well as the plate, Peoples-Walls made nine errors in 28 games.

Adam Ehrlich (6)
The backstop played in 19 games in the GCL and hit .237/.333/.339 with one home run and six RBIs. While donning the tools of ignorance, the California prep star only committed two errors while proving to be an adequate defender.

Nick Martini (7)
It was a disappointing professional debut, to say the least, for the polished college hitter from Kansas State. Martini hit an anemic .167/.291/.230 in 174 at bats with Batavia. On the positive side, he did draw 28 walks compared to 34 strikeouts and he was eight-for-eight in the stolen base department.

Lance Jeffries (10)
The St. Louis native caught the attention of Cardinals prospect watchers with a solid professional debut. The speedy outfielder hit .256/.363/.376 with a home run and 19 RBIs. His run batted in total was the second best mark on the GCL Cardinals. Jefferies led the team with 12 stolen bases but struggled in the field, committing six errors.

Danny Stienstra (12)
The first baseman showed the ability to put the ball in play with almost as may walks, nine, as strikeouts, 11. Stienstra struggled against New York-Penn League right-handed pitching but punished lefties to a tune of .316/.395/.368 in 38 at bats.

Kolby Byrd (13)
The left-handed hitting catcher struggled at the plate while playing for the Appy League champs from Johnson City. Byrd hit .233/.253/.320 with a home run and 15 RBIs.

Matt Williams (15)
The slick fielder was named a Baseball America All-Star after a sensational debut at Johnson City. The 22-year-old hit .293/.382/.463 with six home runs and 25 RBIs. He smashed lefty pitching, slugging .564 in 55 at bats against southpaws. In the field, he formed a superb double-play combo with Tyler Rahmatulla.

Dutch Deol (17)
The prep outfielder really struggled during his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League. He finished with a batting average under .100 with 21 strikeouts in only 56 at bats.

Gary Apelian (27)
The long, lanky first baseman slugged .502 while finishing second on Johnson City in home runs and RBI. As the weather heated up in July, Apelian heated up as well. The then 20-year-old posted a slash line of .341/.380/.615 with four home runs and 22 RBI.

David Bergin (30)
The 22-year-old hit .284/.324/.388 with a home run and 10 RBI at Johnson City. Bergin struck out 21 times in 67 at bats while drawing only three walks. On a positive note, the right-handed batter hit .313 in 48 July at bats.

Jonathan Keener (32)
Keener provided solid defense behind the plate and was promoted to the Quad Cities to provide depth during that team's playoff run. He struggled at the plate during the first couple months of his debut before breaking out in August. During the season's final month, he hit .306 while slugging over .500.

Tyler Rahmatulla (34)
Proving to be a pleasant surprise, the former UCLA Bruin hit .314/.390/.545 with six home runs and 39 RBIs while leading the Appy League with 27 doubles. The second baseman proved to be a big offensive catalyst for the league champs and ranked among the league leaders in many offensive categories. Rahmatulla batted .300 during the postseason while hitting in the middle of the Cardinal order.

Casey Rasmus (36)
Colby's younger brother held his own during his professional debut but appeared to tire down the stretch. In his first 21 games, the backstop hit .308/.356/.354 but hit only .086 in his final 11 games with Batavia.

Jeremy Patton (38)
Patton really came out of nowhere to rank among the New York-Penn League leaders in average, slugging, doubles, RBI, and total bases. The infielder finished the season with a mark of .292/.374/.451 with four home runs and 40 RBI. In his final 18 games, Patton hit .322 with 14 RBIs.

Michael Knox (41)
The late round pick led the Gulf Coast Cardinals with five home runs while finishing third on the team in RBIs. The power numbers were solid but Knox finished with a slash line of .211/.336/.391 with strikeouts in 37% of his at bats.

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