Gulf Coast League: Where the Cards power is

No matter how you slice it, the St. Louis Cardinals' top draftees and biggest money players from the 2013 draft are starting their professional careers in the Gulf Coast League.

Perhaps it would be unfair, but there is at least one line of thinking that Gulf Coast League Cardinals manager Steve Turco has a club that should run away from the field in the rookie-level circuit this summer.

Normally the core of the roster of the lowest-level club in the St. Louis Cardinals system is made up of first-time US players graduating from the organization's Dominican Republic program, some slower-moving returning players, along with a few of the recent high school draftees.

Those dynamics still exist, but the balance has shifted in 2013.

The prep stars

The high school population is substantially more significant this season. In fact, nine of the Cardinals first 16 selections in this June's draft were prep stars – and all nine have joined the GCL Cards to open their professional careers.

Of course, that includes two of the organization's first-day selections - pitcher Rob Kaminsky and shortstop Oscar Mercado, taken 28th and 57th overall, respectively.

The over pick-value signees

It is also most interesting to note that among the new GCL Cardinals are all five of the system's over-slot signees from the 2013 draft – Mercado, Malik Collymore, Steven Farinaro, Ricardo Bautista and DeAndre Asbury. They represent a subset of the nine high schoolers mentioned above.

The college stars

As if that wasn't enough star power, workload concerns with pitchers coming off the long spring collegiate season have led the Cardinals to assign their top two drafted college hurlers to the GCL, as well. The two are 19th overall selection, Marco Gonzales and third-rounder Mike Mayers. (The latter is not yet active.)

While the Cardinals will surely exercise caution with the pair's workload, the two may become available to pitch in controlled outings – as did Michael Wacha last summer.

The top picks

By round - From this draft, the Cards have assigned their first four picks, five of their first seven and six of their first eight to the Gulf Coast League.

By money – Bonuses are known for 14 of the 16 players taken through round 15, with only the small amounts for rounds 13 and 14 not yet reported. Players assigned to the GCL received over $7.3 million, while the other four top draftees were given less than $200,000 in total.

The graduate rehabbers

Add to all of that the convenient proximity to the Cardinals rehab facility in Jupiter, Fla. and Turco's GCL club receives the additional boost of the short-time services of several proven players from higher levels.

Last week, Palm Beach outfielder Anthony Garcia tuned up with the GCL Cards. Currently getting back to 100 percent with the club are Springfield pitcher Jordan Swagerty, Palm Beach reliever Zack Russell, Peoria starter Dail Villanueva and State College hurler Josh Lucas.

In summary

  # draftees Bonus $ # draftees  
  Round Round Round Total
Level 1-15 1-15 16-41  
GCL 11 $7.347MM 3 14
Johnson City 0   10 10
State College 5 $185,000 7 12
Full-season 0   0 0
Unsigned 0   5 5
Total 16   25 41

No matter how you slice it, the power, the quantity and the money from St. Louis' 2013 draft class is currently on the roster of the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. Of course, many will not be staying too long.

Other related resources

To see the status and assignments of all 41 Cardinals draftees, refer to the Roster Matrix, posted at The Cardinal Nation blog.

To see a Bonus Pool financial summary for the Cardinals' 2013 draft, check out "A quick look at Cardinals 2013 draft finances".

For details on all Cardinals draft picks, refer to " 2013 St. Louis Cardinals draft Cliffs Notes".

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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