1. (1,28) Colby Rasmus, CF, Russell County (Ala.) High School
Rasmus batted .484 and led the state of Alabama with 24 home runs as a senior, scoring 69 runs and driving in 66 in 39 games. In a recent workout at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox, Rasmus was clocked at 94 mph throwing from centerfield. He also covers 60 yards in 6.7 seconds.
"Rasmus is an exciting outfielder," Jeff Luhnow, St. Louis' vice president of player procurement and the man heading up the draft effort, told MLB.com. "He's what scouts call a five-tool outfielder. He has a tremendously strong arm. He's a good fielder, plays center field and profiles at center field. He swings the bat well. He swings the bat with power. He runs well. There's really nothing this kid can't do."
The 18-year-old couldn't be happier.
"I was hoping they'd pick me 28th," Rasmus told the Associated Press on Tuesday. "I wanted to go to the Cardinals. They've got a great organization. When I went there for a workout, it was awesome.
"It couldn't have worked out any better. That's exactly where I wanted to go."
Rasmus, who doesn't have an agent, is likely to get a 7-figure signing bonus, but he isn't worried about any of that right now.
"I'm not worried about holding out or anything like that," Rasmus told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. "I just want to sign and go play."
2. (1,30) Tyler Greene, SS, Georgia Tech
Greene was was a 2nd round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2002, and he was named a preseason first-team All-American by Baseball America entering the 2005 season. The 21-year-old batted .373 with 15 doubles, three triples, 12 home runs and 72 RBI this season for Georgia Tech, while being slowed by a broken jaw, and helped lead the . He was rated as the fourth-fastest runner among college eligible players.
"The guy has tremendous speed," Luhnow told MLB.com. "He batted .360-something. So he's produced. He had a fair number of home runs as well. He plays in a very tough conference on a very good team, and every time we've gone out and watched him -- our scouts have probably watched him 14 times this year; I saw him three times myself -- there's no question in our minds about his ability to not only play shortstop very well, but hit in the future."
Greene has a .464 on-base percentage and a .592 slugging percentage this season, but also had 68 strikeouts in 59 games.
"That's something I plan on working on and cutting down," he said. "But other than that I feel like I had a really good year this year."
Greene helped lead the Yellow Jackets to the Super Regionals which begin on Friday and will be televised on ESPN2. He is represented by Scott Boras, but he has reportedly already worked out a deal in principle with the Cardinals. He plans to finish Tech's season first though.
"It's a very happy day," Greene told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. "I'll just let it sink in and soak in today, and then tomorrow at practice we'll start getting ready for the Super Regional."
3. (1a,43) Mark McCormick, RHP, Baylor University
Following his senior year at Clear Creek High School in 2002, when his fastball was first clocked at 99 mph, McCormick turned down a last-minute $1.2 million offer from the Baltimore Orioles after they drafted him in the 11th round. There have been numerous reports of him hitting triple digits since then. He has also developed a devastating curveball to go along with his slider and changeup.
"McCormick is a risk-reward guy," Luhnow said. "When you can get a guy who has that kind of power arm, it's tremendous."
McCormick has posted a 7-3 record this season with a 3.12 ERA, 97 strikeouts in 92.1 innings pitched and .185 opponents' batting average, helping lead the Bears to the Super Regionals which begin this weekend. He will get the start on Sunday which will be televised nationally on ESPN.
"I can't wait to get started with the Cardinals, but the first thing is getting to the (College) World Series and winning it," McCormick told the Galveston County Daily News.
The risk that Luhnow mentioned is McCormick's control problems. He issued 55 walks this season, threw 10 wild pitches, and hit nine batters.
One very positive note about McCormick is that he's stayed away from arm injuries pretty much his entire career. He missed a few weeks during the spring of his sophomore year with shoulder tendonitis but has otherwise not had any arm problems.
McCormick, like Greene, is represented by Boras, but fully intends to sign with the Cardinals. He has even told his teammates that he will not be back next year.
"Scott doesn't tell us what to do," McCormick said. "He puts the numbers up there and tells us the facts. I told them (MLB teams) that. Some believed me, some didn't. The Cards did.
"I told all the guys I'm leaving," he said. "Some of them didn't believe me, but the Cardinals did. I'm happy that organization drafted me."
McCormick even went as far as saying that he would sign for slot money.
"Some teams don't like to deal with Scott, but he's honest and deals with you straight up," McCormick told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "I've been telling teams all along that I'll sign for the slot I'm drafted in, but I guess they didn't believe me."
The average bonus for the 43rd overall pick the last 4 seasons has been $840,500.
4. (1a,46) Tyler Herron, RHP, Wellington (Fla.) Community HS
Herron has touched 94 mph with his fastball and pitches comfortably at 90-91 while showing enough of a changeup to encourage scouts. His curveball at times has earned 70 grades from scouts on the 20-80 scale. Some scouts have compared him to Mike Mussina.
"Most people that see him are surprised that he's in high school because he can pitch to spots, he's got good offspeed pitches, he can do it all," Luhnow said. "He's got a changeup and he's got what scouts call pitchability."
Herron told ESPN 1380 in St. Louis on Tuesday that he had already agreed on a deal with the Cardinals worth about $675,000.
5. (2,70) Josh Wilson, RHP, Whitehouse HS, Tyler, Texas
Wilson's fastball normally hovers between 92-95 mph. He also throws a knuckle-curve and a changeup.
"He's a power arm, but he's a young power arm, Luhnow said. "So that's the type of player that in the past, if we only had one pick, after taking Rasmus we probably would have gone safer with the next couple picks."
Wilson says he expects to receive at least a half million dollar signing bonus and that the Cardinals will also pay for his college education. He is scheduled to report to rookie ball in Johnson City, Tennessee within the next week.
"The Cardinals have a scholarship plan, so I'll go to school in the offseason," Wilson told the Tyler Morning Telegraph. "It is tough (to pass up Texas), knowing they're in the Super Regionals right now, and they'll have just as good a chance next year, and knowing I could be a part of it.
"But my whole life I've dreamed of being a professional baseball player, and now that I have the opportunity to take it, I've decided to do it."
6. (2,78) Nick Webber, RHP, Central Missouri State University
According to Baseball America, Webber has one of the best fastballs in the draft. It sits at 91-94 mph and touches 96, and it stands out even more with its outstanding life. One observer said it had "Wiffle ball movement" last summer in the Cape Cod League. Webber's second pitch is a decent slider, which he commands well but lacks a sharp break. As a pro, he may need to scrap the slider in favor of a splitter.
"It's always a plus if you can get a local kid," Luhnow said. "We didn't overdraft him just because he's a local kid. He deserved to be drafted probably ahead of where we took him."
He was the closer for the Mules and had a 1.06 ERA in 42-1/3 innings while striking out 45 and walking 12. He allowed only 20 hits while opponents hit only .139 against him.
Baseball America says that he has the strong body and resilience to try starting as a pro, but he has pitched almost exclusively in relief at Central Missouri State and may remain in that role. He hasn't thrown a changeup, which he'd need to move into a rotation.
Webber has been told that he will begin his career at rookie-level Johnson City.
7. (3,110) Daryl Jones, OF, Spring (Texas) HS
As a wide receiver who caught 20 touchdown passes over the last two years and runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, Jones had scholarship offers from several prominent NCAA Division I-A programs. He turned them all down to take a baseball scholarship from Rice, and it appears unlikely he'll give it up to turn pro. Baseball America said that he is still learning to use his speed on the field. Some scouts compare him to Kenny Lofton, but with more power.
8. (4,140) Bryan Anderson, C, Simi Valley (Calif.) HS
Anderson was rated as the 83rd best high school prospect coming into 2005, but his offensive production fell off as he had little protection in the Simi Valley High lineup. Scouts say his throwing mechanics also regressed this spring—even as he threw out almost every basestealer. Anderson can swing the bat well enough if a position switch is in order, but his lack of speed may limit his options.
9. (5,170) Mitch Boggs, RHP, University of Georgia
Boggs struggled to throw consistent strikes, but took off as a closer late in 2005 for the Bulldogs. Boggs has topped out at 94 mph and sits in the 90-93 range. He's still raw due to his inexperience in baseball, leaving his secondary stuff short, and he is still learning how to compete. Overall his numbers were not very impressive. He went 3-4 with a 5.89 ERA and four saves. In 47-1/3 innings he allowed 52 hits, and had a 48/16 K/BB ratio. Opponents hit .281 against him.
Boggs was pleased to hear that the Cardinals drafted him.
"From what I've heard, it's a great organization, so I couldn't be more pleased," Boggs told the Athens Banner-Herald. "I should get a good opportunity."
10. (6,200) Wilfrido Pujols, OF, Fort Osage HS, Independence, Mo.
The Cardinals wanted to make sure they got Wilfrido Pujols, the cousin of Albert Pujols, even at the expense of drafting him a couple rounds early.
"We think he's got a very good chance of being a very good hitter," General manager Walt Jocketty told the Associated Press.
Wil attended the same high school as Albert and has commited to Maple Woods Community College, also Albert's alma mater. Albert has offered his help if Wil, who frequently makes the trip over to St. Louis to watch his cousin, decides to sign with the Cardinals.
"If he decides to sign here, it's good because I can help him out in spring training and I can stay in touch with him," Pujols said. "I told him you'll probably get drafted and people are probably going to treat you real nice, but that you respect the game and try to learn, and don't worry about the money, that the money is going to be there when you get to the big leagues."
Wil hit only .306, with 4 extra-base hits in 36 at-bats, but arthroscopic surgery to remove loose cartilage in his right knee caused him to miss 12 games. Will isn't a top prospect yet, but he's a strong 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds and bears some resemblance to Albert.
"I hope he does better than me," Albert said. "I hope he's the one that breaks all the records that I put up in four years. But I told him not to look at my name, to look at himself, and to take advantage of the opportunity."
11. (7,230) Nick Stavinoha, OF, Louisiana State University
Stavinoha began his college athletic career as a long snapper on the Houston football team, then spent two seasons as a catcher at San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College. He has settled into right field and a senior this spring, Stavinoha led the Tigers with a .370 average, 95 hits and 65 RBIs and cracked 18 home runs. He was named the Baton Rouge regional most outstanding player after hitting .647 (11-for-17) in four games with three doubles, a homer and six RBIs.
"It worked out pretty well for me to come to LSU and get the kind of experience I did and improve from the 39th round to the seventh," Stavinoha said. "I was excited when I saw my name pop up because I really didn't know what to expect."
12. (8,260) Jason Cairns, RHP, Central Michigan University
Cairns began his college career at Central Michigan as an infielder, transferred to John A. Logan (Ill.) Community College as a sophomore, then returned to the Chippewas as a full-time pitcher. Throwing from a low three-quarters angle, he gets a lot of sinking life on his 90-94 mph fastball. In 96 innings, he has permitted just one homer and nine extra-base hits this year. To succeed as a pro reliever, Cairns will need to improve his command and develop a reliable second pitch. He uses a splitter and slider but relies almost solely on his sinker. Some scouts have compared him to Steve Trachsel.
13. (9,290) Zach Zuercher, LHP, University of Rhode Island
Zuercher spent his freshman year at North Carolina before returning home and becoming the Atlantic-10 Conference's pitcher of the year as a sophomore. He didn't have as dominating a season as in 2004, when he set school records with nine complete games and four shutouts, but Zuercher has four pitches he can throw for strikes. His curveball is his most effective pitch. His fastball normally ranges from 84-88 mph, but it touched 90. — Baseball America
14. (10,320) Randy Roth, C, Southeastern Lousiana University
Roth turned down a football scholarship to play quarterback at Louisiana Tech and has started games at six positions in two years at Southeastern Louisiana. He fits best behind the plate, where he can make good use of an arm that delivered fastballs topping out at 95 mph when he pitched at Delgado (La.) Community College. Before that, he originally signed with LSU and spent his freshman year at Chipola (Fla.) Junior College. Roth also has a quick bat that gives him plus power potential. – Baseball America
15. (11,350) Steve Gonzalez, C, Programa Alcase, San Juan, P.R.
Gonzalez, 18, is a 5-10, 190 lb catcher out of Programa Alcase in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
16. (12,380) Daniel McCutchen, RHP, University of Oklahoma
The Yankees took McCutchen in the 47th round out of Grayson County (Texas) Community College in 2003 and the Devil Rays picked him in the 29th round last year, but went much higher this year. The biggest difference for McCutchen has been learning that he shouldn't worry about velocity. Trying to impress scouts earlier this spring, he threw 95-96 mph but left his fastball up in the zone and got hammered to the tune of a 9.86 ERA at the end of March. Since then, he has concentrated more on control and movement, and he has been throwing a 90-91 sinker down in the strike zone. The results? A 2.26 ERA and a successful transition from the bullpen to the rotation. McCutchen also has shown a more consistent curveball and has found the strike zone more often. He had elbow problems at Grayson but has been healthy in two years with the Sooners. – Baseball America
17. (13,410) Malcolm Owens, OF, San Bernadino Valley (Calif.) JC
18. (14,440) Michael Repole, RHP, Birmingham-Southern College
19. (15,470) Adam Daniels, LHP, Oklahoma State University
Daniels has been taken in each of the last four drafts, including in the 43rd round by the Cubs in 2004, he throws 90-92 mph and flashing a plus slider. – Baseball America
20. (16,500) Matt Lane, RHP, University of Louisiana-Monroe
21. (17,530) Michael Cooper, RHP, Fresno State University
22. (18,560) Brandon Garner, RHP, Yale HS, Melvin, Mich.