It's that time of year again when casual prospect buffs start looking for information on the upcoming draft, only to realize that due to MLB's baffling anti-marketing campaign against the draft there is little to none available outside of Baseball America.
Here is a mock draft by MLB reporter Jonathan Mayo that lists the Cardinals taking Texas A&M shortstop Cliff Pennington and Texas prep right hander Craig Italiano in the first round.
Pennington has been mentioned as a potential #2 overall pick, but his upside is limited and he's not really considered a premium talent. He's close to ready for the big leagues, which would appeal to the Cardinals even moreso than to other clubs. Personally, I doubt a low-risk draft prospect drops down to the bottom of the first round, but I'll be happy if he does. We don't need a five-tool prospect or a flamethrowing project as much as we need steady contributors to compliment the stars we already have.
Italiano is the epitome of the flamethrowing project mentioned above. Consistent mid-90s heat, can go as high as 98 MPH. He's got the strongest HS arm in the draft but he's considered an injury risk and he's not the most polished pitcher around. Personally, I think he's the antithesis of the kind of players that St. Louis has always targeted in the draft.
The Cardinals have never shied away from taking premium talent that falls due to signability issues, and there will be plenty in this draft. Unfortunately, it's looking more and more likely that Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver will sign with AZ and ANA, so that's two fewer players to tempt teams willing to open up the pocketbook in the draft. If they decide to spring on a Boras player at the end of the first round, I hope it's someone like Mark Pawelek and not a no-hit catcher like Teagarden.
28 Henry Sanchez 1B Tons of power but no position to play. I see him as this year's Daric Barton. Pick him over the objections of scouts, let him tear up the ball for a few years, and then find out what you can get for him from a team that needs a 1B/DH type. He doesn't have Barton's polish at the plate, but he does have incredible power potential.
30 Mark McCormick SP Pros: Mid 90s fastball with movement and a killer curve, considered to have the "closer mentality" in case a move to the pen is necessitated, has dominated the Cape Cod League more than once, finally having a good year at Baylor. Cons: Boras advisee, has had shoulder problems, has never dominated the college competition (Including this year), lacks a third pitch, imperfect mechanics and not considered the most coachable kid around. McCormick is more of a tools pick, but has had enough stretches of effectiveness, along with a few flashes of brilliance, to justify taking him at the end of the first.
The Cardinals also have choices #43 and 46 in the supplemental round. I'd imagine the Cardinals will use them on low-risk picks at need spots, specifically a college middle infielder and an outfielder. Unfortunately, unless Jed Lowrie slips, they're going to have to reach to get a middle infielder here.
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