Cardinals Name 30 Draftees during Day 3

The St. Louis Cardinals selected their final 30 players in a fast-paced third day of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft.

While there is understandably far less interest in the third and final day of the annual First-Year Player Draft compared to days one and two, some very good baseball players are chosen. Every club can offer examples with the St. Louis Cardinals not alone. Matt Carpenter (lucky 13th-rounder), Trevor Rosenthal (21st round) and Kevin Siegrist (41st round) provide recent reinforcement that these picks can be difference-makers.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Cardinals had 30 selections from rounds 11-40 to make. Over a period of almost seven hours, that is what they did. Details on all 30 day 3 draftees follow.

There’s More!

The Cardinal Nation’s Draft Day Two In-Depth Report
The Cardinal Nation’s Draft Day One In-Depth Report

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The Selections

Paul Salazar, RHP (Round 11/Overall selection 341)

The Cardinals opened day two with their fourth high school pitcher, Paul Salazar from Lutheran South Academy in Houston, Texas. The right-hander is also the first draftee from MLB’s Urban Youth Academy in Houston - RBI, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities.

With a fastball in the 88-90 mph range, Salazar tops out at 92. The fact he played shortstop when not pitching is a signal of his athleticism. The 18-year-old is committed to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Jacob Schlesener, LHP (Round 12/Overall selection 371)

The Cardinals did not stray too far from home in selecting another high school arm in Jacob Schlesener from Logan-Rogersville High School in Rogersville, Missouri.

In his district semis last month, the lefty tossed five shutout innings, allowing just one hit and striking out 12. He also helped his cause by launching a three-run home run in the first inning of his team’s 9-0 win. The next time out, Schlesener took the loss after giving up seven earned runs on five hits across four innings pitched. He struck out six, but walked three and hit two batters.

Schlesener sports a fastball in the low 90’s along with a tight curve. His command is said to need improvement. The 18-year-old has signed to pitch for the University of Arkansas.

Craig Aikin, OF (Round 13/Overall selection 401)

The Cardinals returned to the University of Oklahoma to select center fielder Craig Aikin in the 13th round. The 21-year-old is a junior who hails from the Dallas area.

The All-Big 12 First Team honoree slashed .340/.387/.435/.822 with 47 runs and 15 doubles this season. Aikin ranks 12th all-time at Oklahoma with 236 career hits and set the program record for hits in a game with six.

Like so many Cardinals outfield prospects before him, Aikin has solid, but only average defense and speed. The left-handed hitter’s lack of power means he is projected more as a reserve than starter at the Major League level.

Carson Cross, RHP (Round 14/Overall selection 431)

A fifth-year senior pitcher from the University of Connecticut, Carson Cross, is St. Louis’ 14th-round selection. The Exeter, New Hampshire native shares a hometown with retired Cardinals ace right-hander Chris Carpenter.

Despite his considerable size at 6-foot-6 and a balanced, repeatable delivery, Cross is considered a back of the rotation type due to an upper 80’s fastball that can touch the low 90’s. He also has a slider and change-up.

In 2013, Cross was drafted by the Pirates as a redshirt sophomore, but did not sign. After missing 2014 with a shoulder injury but healthy again this season, Cross was effective for the Huskies. He went 10-2 with a 2.29 ERA and 108 strikeouts against 25 walks in 106 innings pitched while limiting opponents to a .206 batting average against.

Ryan Merrill, SS (Round 15/Overall selection 461)

The Cardinals made their next pick from Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Ryan Merrill. The shortstop has committed to attend TCU this fall.

In 119 plate appearances this spring, the left-handed hitter had 35 hits, drew 12 walks, scored 37 runs and drove in 34. Merrill swiped 14 bags without being caught. His slash line was .357/.466/.561/1.027.

Max Almonte, RHP (Round 16/Overall selection 491)

The Cards tabbed Villanova pitcher Max Almonte in the 16th round. The 23-year-old fifth-year senior possesses a 95 mph fastball and has good stuff, but mediocre numbers.

In 35 games, including 29 starts, Almonte has a career record of 4-11 with a 5.36 ERA. In 149 1/3 innings, he allowed 185 hits, 63 walks and struck out 84. Still, there is potential there. Almonte yielded just three home runs to 707 batters faced and in his 29 career starts, the right-hander allowed three earned runs or fewer 21 times.

Chris Chinea, C (Round 17/Overall selection 521)

St. Louis’ 17th rounder, junior catcher Chris Chinea, was one of LSU’s top offensive threats this season, with a line of .367/.398/.578 over 61 games with 11 home runs, 17 doubles and 58 RBI.

The Miami native was a 2014 Cape Cod League All-Star, batting .310 including four doubles and 18 RBI in the wooden bat league. His professional value increases if he can remain behind the plate.

Josh Rolette, C (Round 18/Overall selection 551)

The Cardinals took their second straight catcher and third in the draft in Josh Rolette. The 19-year-old helped his 32-5 Shawnee High School team take the Class 5A Oklahoma State title this spring, during which he plated eight runs.

The senior hit .489 with seven home runs and 48 RBI during the regular season, leading him to be named all-state by the Oklahoma Coaches Association. Rolette is a Kansas State commit.

Ryan McCarvel, C (Round 19/Overall selection 581)

The Cards were on a roll, taking their third straight backstop, this one from a Juco, Howard College in Texas. 20-year-old Ryan McCarvel is a native of Moreno Valley, California.

The sophomore was named as a first team All-American after slashing .398/.458/.707/1.165 with 50 runs batted in in just 37 games.

Link to McCarvel video.

Luke Doyle, 2B (Round 20/Overall selection 611)

The Cards stayed with the Juco pipeline in the 20th round, taking Yavapai College (Arizona) second baseman Luke Doyle.

This spring, the left-handed batter hit .373 (85-for-228) with 11 doubles, 12 home runs, 53 RBI and 15 stolen bases. Doyle’s 81 runs scored were the fifth-most in the nation. For his efforts, the Phoenix-area native was named First Team All-ACCAC for the second season in a row.

The 20-year-old was the MVP of the summer collegiate Jayhawk League in 2014. Like Rolette, Doyle is a Kansas State commit.

Cadyn Grenier, SS (Round 21/Overall selection 641)

Shortstop Cadyn Grenier hails from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, from where Rangers slugger Joey Gallo also graduated. Grenier is an 18-year-old who has committed to Oregon State. Grenier hit the walk-off home run to win his Division’s State Championship and was named to the USA Today All-USA Baseball Team.

Grenier was thought by some to be a top five-round talent. The line drive hitter can go to all fields but lacks over-the-fence power. His speed affords him good range at short, but he has just an average arm. Grenier gets high marks for his instincts, aggressiveness and work ethic.

Hunter Newman, 1B (Round 22/Overall selection 671)

Not to be confused with the LSU pitcher with same name, it was first baseman Hunter Newman of Trevecca Nazarine University selected by the Cards in the 22nd round.

The 21-year-old native of Chapmansboro, Tennessee is a Division II All-American and the ABCA Rawlings Midwest Region Player of the Year.

In his junior season, the right-handed hitter batted .451 and led the Great Midwest Athletic Conference in batting average, home runs (18), runs batted in (77), slugging percentage (.877), on-base percentage (.558), total bases (171), walks (39) and tied for first in hit by pitches (13).

Gio Brusa, OF (Round 23/Overall selection 701)

Toolsy outfielder Gio Brusa from the University of the Pacific is the Cardinals’ 23rd round selection. The switch-hitter reportedly turned away Boston’s fifth-round overtures after high school, but was taken by Atlanta in the 37th round in 2012.

The 21-year-old struggled during his first two college seasons before hitting .322 and slugging a Cape Cod League-best .545 last summer. Brusa has plus power potential but didn’t get to show it this spring as he dealt with a sprained UCL in his elbow and never got going. He runs well for his size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) and has the necessary arm strength to play right field.

Daniel Martin, 2B (Round 24/Overall selection 731)

Daniel Martin, a shortstop at Azusa Pacific, was called out as a second baseman when selected by St. Louis in the 24th round on Wednesday.

This season, the 20-year-old hit .379 with 60 RBI and 16 home runs. The junior is the first Azusa Pacific baseball player honored with a Division II First-Team All-American berth.

Kyle Molnar, RHP (Round 25/Overall selection 761)

The prep star from Aliso Niguel High School in California, Kyle Molnar, is well-known nationally, having starred for USA Baseball’s 18U squad. Like earlier Cardinals day three picks Cadyn Greiner and Gio Brusa, Molnar’s draft spot is not a reflection of his considerable talent. The 18-year-old is expected to honor his UCLA commitment, but perhaps the Cardinals will take a shot.

Molnar’s status was dimmed by a senior season that was a bit disappointing. Coming off playing basketball, his velocity was down from 94 to the 88-92 mph range, according to He also sports a slider and changeup and gets high marks for a repeatable delivery, resulting in consistent strikes thrown.

Brennan Leitao, RHP (Round 26/Overall selection 791)

In the 26th round, the Cards called out the name of Cal State Sacramento right-handed pitcher Brennan Leitao. The 21-year-old is the first three-time all-WAC first team selection in program history.

The four-year player was 6-4 with a 2.30 ERA this season. Leitao is the Hornets leader in career wins with 31 and innings pitched with 398 and is third in strikeouts with 226 and tied for eighth in ERA at 2.94.

Greg Tomchick, RHP (Round 27/Overall selection 821)

Old Dominion University is the source of St. Louis’ 27th round pick, right-handed pitcher Greg Tomchick. Blessed with good size at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, the Virginia Beach, Virginia native must be a diamond in the rough candidate for the Cardinals.

In 125 career innings at ODU, Tomchick struck out 89 and issued 58 free passes while logging an aggregate ERA of 4.89. His best year was his just-completed senior season at 4.06.

Mitchell Traver, RHP (Round 28/Overall selection 851)

A mountain of a man at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, TCU’s Mitchell Traver is a redshirt junior who had a successful 2015 after recovering from a pair of procedures like Jaime Garcia - thoracic outlet and Tommy John surgeries - and then a stress fracture in his back.

The right-hander is now at 90-94 mph with his heavy fastball. Traver’s slider is his second-best offering with more work needed on his changeup and his command. The 21-year-old helped lead his Horned Frogs to Omaha after logging a team-best 1.60 ERA during this season.

Ben Yokley, RHP (Round 29/Overall selection 881)

Following Navy’s Mitch Harris, now with St. Louis, the Cardinals went after another branch of the armed forces with the 29th round selection, US Air Force Academy right-handed pitcher Ben Yokley.

A reliever, Yokley set the Air Force record for most career appearances with 95. The 22-year-old struck out 137 batters, but also walked 77 in 121 2/3 career innings, during which time his ERA was 5.46. Yokley faced 593 batters in his four-year collegiate career, and did not allow a home run.

The Arvada, Colorado native, a Second Lieutenant, is only fifth player ever to be drafted from the Air Force Academy. None of the first four reached the majors.

Matt Vierling, OF (Round 30/Overall selection 911)

Christian Brothers College High School star from St. Louis, 18 year-old Matt Vierling, is a Notre Dame commit, where he is expected to be a two-way player. In the field, Vierlng has appeal as a power hitter from the right side. Lanky at 6-foot-4 and athletic, there should be more to come from Vierling, but it will probably next be as a collegian.

Link to KSDK channel 5 video feature

Aaron Coates, LHP (Round 31/Overall selection 941)

Aaron Coates, a left-handed pitcher from Glasgow High School in Newark, Delaware, is St. Louis’ 31st-round pick in 2015. The 17-year-old posted a 1.86 ERA as a junior in 2014.

The Texas Tech commit sits in the 86-88 range with his fastball, however, he projects to improve to the low 90’s ahead.

Thomas Spitz, OF (Round 32/Overall selection 971)

The Cards selected an outfielder from Wingate University in North Carolina, Thomas Spitz, in the 32nd round. Hailing from West Chester, Pennsylvania, the senior was a Division II second-team All-American among his many honors.

In 2015, Spitz led Division II with 80 runs scored, ranking sixth with 77 RBI, eighth with 165 total bases, 11th with 87 hits and 12th with 17 home runs. The right-handed hitter slashed .372/.468/.705/1.273 this season. Spitz was the only player in the nation with at least 17 homers and 20 or more stolen bases.

Chandler Hawkins, LHP (Round 33/Overall selection 1001)

Arkansas State senior pitcher Chandler Hawkins was selected by the Cardinals in the 33rd round. The left-hander enjoyed his best season in 2015 as he registered a 5-7 record with a 4.87 ERA. He struck out 62 batters in 64 2/3 innings and walked 29.

The 22-year-old had 78 appearances in his Arkansas State career, including 27 starts. Hawkins tossed 201 innings, striking out 173 batters against 90 walks. His four-year ERA is 5.46.

The Memphis, Tennessee native attended the same high school, Bartlett, as Memphis Redbirds infielder Jacob Wilson.

Parker Kelly, RHP (Round 34/Overall selection 1031)

For a 34th-rounder, Parker Kelly will receive an inordinate amount of attention. After all, he is the younger brother of top Cardinals minor league catching prospect Carson Kelly, who signed out of the same high school three years ago, Westview (Oregon).

It remains to be seen if Parker will ever be throwing to Carson as professional teammates. The 6-foot-1 righty is committed to the University of Oregon. Parker was named a Perfect Game Second Team All-American and received West All-Region First Team honors this spring.

Luke Harrison, RHP (Round 35/Overall selection 1061)

In round 35, the Cards selected their first Indiana University player ever, right-handed pitcher Luke Harrison. The 22-year-old, whose earned run average went down each season, was second on his team with a 2.02 ERA in 2015 and led the Hoosiers with 61 strikeouts.

In four years at Indiana, the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder went 15-4 with a 2.86 ERA and 174 strikeouts to 44 walks in 167 innings pitched. Harrison’s 87 career appearances rank third all-time at the Big 10 school.

Dylan Tice, 2B (Round 36/Overall selection 1091)

The Cards selected West Chester University second baseman Dylan Tice in round 36. After transferring from Indiana University, also in Pennsylvania, the 22-year-old finished at the same school attended by Cardinals hitting coach John Mabry.

In Division II in 2015, Tice tied for 13th in the nation in hitting with a .433 average. The switch-hitter hammered out 65 hits, including 16 doubles, five triples and 11 home runs, while knocking in 34 runs and scoring 59 times. He compiled an .827 slugging percentage and a .548 on-base percentage. Tice struck out just seven times on the season.

Stephen Zavala, C (Round 37/Overall selection 1121)

St. Louis dipped to Division III Whitter College in California to select catcher Stephen Zavala in the 37th round. The junior, 22 years of age, was a national Gold Glove winner and all-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection this season.

At the plate, the right-handed hitter had 37 hits in 155 plate appearances, including five doubles, a triple, and three home runs for a .301 batting average. He drove in 18 and scored 32 times, had 23 walks, stole seven bases, and finished with a .428 on base percentage.

Orlando Olivera, OF (Round 38/Overall selection 1151)

The Cardinals called out the name of Missouri Baptist outfielder Orlando Olivera in the 38th round. The Spartan left fielder, 24 years of age, finished his senior year with a .395 average, .736 slugging percentage and was second in the NAIA in home runs with 20. Stout at 6 feet, 230 pounds, Olivera is a career .421 hitter and was the lone two-time, First-Team NAIA All-American this season.

R.J. Dennard, 1B (Round 39/Overall selection 1181)

With their second-to-last pick, the Cardinals selected 22-year-old Armstrong State University first baseman R.J. Dennard.

In his four-year career, the Soperton, Ga., native hit .364 with 57 doubles, 19 home runs and 167 RBI. Dennard ranks in the school’s top 10 in seven different offensive categories - third in doubles, tied for third in hits, fifth in at-bats (737), sixth in RBI and runs scored (161) and tied for ninth in walks (107). The left-handed hitter was a two-time All-Peach Belt Conference and ABCA All-Southeast Region honoree during his career.

The Armstrong State University Honors Graduate had begun Pharmacy School at South University, but those plans are now on hold as Dennard plans to give professional baseball a try.

Joey Hawkins, SS (Round 40/Overall selection 1211)

With their final pick, the Cardinals could not draft Tate Matheny, but instead took one of his Missouri State teammates, shortstop Joey Hawkins. The 22-year-old, a product of Whitby, Ontario, won the 2015 Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year award.

Hawkins was drafted by the Royals in 2011, but decided to attend college instead. He batted .262 during his senior season, a year in which his Bears fell just short of the College World Series.

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The Cardinal Nation staffer Leonda Markee contributed to this repoer.

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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