The Top Five Contenders
5. Ethan Martin, RHP/3rd Base, Stephens County HS – Just one of several two-way players in this year's draft, Martin epitomizes the prototypical third baseman. His arm strength is among the best in the nation, and while he can pitch, I wouldn't want to sacrifice his bat. I'm a card-carrying member of the ‘There Is No Such Thing as Pitching Prospect' (TINSTAPP club) and Martin is already an excellent third defensive third baseman. His chances of making it to the majors would seem more likely as a position player rather than as a pitcher. Reports that he is a potential top tier pitching prospect seems a little premature to me, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him being considered a pitching prospect by a lot of organizations. A great athlete obviously, the Cardinals could do a lot worse than taking Ethan Martin in the first round.
4. Aaron Hicks, RHP/OF, Wilson HS – can you say Rick Ankiel? Here is another two-way player. The problem with Hicks, if it is a problem, is whether he profiles better as a pitcher or an outfielder. My take is he'll make a great center fielder. He is a switch hitter with five-tool potential across the board, showing very good speed, bat speed and power and offers a style of play that has been compared to the Mets Jose Reyes. He's got a ton of tools, the $64,000 question is, how well he will use them and if the Cardinals will risk their first pick on a high school outfielder, even with Hicks potential. A legitimate two-way player, teams are more than likely to try him as an everyday player first, but could give him a shot on the mound. If he's available at 13, you have to take the five minutes to consider him. If he is still around in the supplemental round and that could be remotely possible, very remotely, you would have to grab him if you get that chance, as the 38th overall pick.
3. Casey Kelly, SS, Sarasota HS – would the Cardinals pick another high school shortstop as the first pick two years in a roll? There is a chance Kelly could still be available when the Cardinals make their first selection, though it isn't likely. He's a big physical shortstop with good range and has been compared to Derek Jeter. He can pitch as well, making him the third two-way player in our countdown, though he'll likely be drafted as a shortstop. In January, Kelly committed to the University of Tennessee with the intention of playing football and baseball. It's going to cost some big bucks to get this kid to leave Tennessee and signed. He made this public statement in January after committing to UT, "The money has to be right to be something to take me away from college," said Kelly. "It has to be something big." Kelly has worked out for the Cardinals, if he's still there at #13, the Cardinals could open their purse strings and make him their first pick of the draft.
2. Tim Melville, RHP, Wentzville HS – blessed with tremendous size and arm strength, Melville offers an imposing presence on the field. He can deliver fastballs up to 95 mph. One of the premier pitching prospects in the nation, Melville is considering attending the University of North Carolina in the fall. Perfect Game ranked him as the #3 prospect in the nation and he was awarded the Jackie Robinson award at the Aflac All-American Game as the ‘National Player of the Year'. He throws three pitches for strikes with excellent control. A hometown favorite, Cardinals would do well, getting Melville in the first round, certainly it would be a very popular decision among the fans.
1. Christian Friedrich, LHP, Eastern Kentucky – if you want a left-hander it's either Friedrich or Brian Matusz from San Diego and Matusz doesn't figure to fall all the way down to #13. Friedrich is widely considered the second best college left-hander in the draft. A strong 6-foot-3, 210-pounder with a clean delivery, he has four pitches that project to be at least average, to include a low 90s fastball he still needs to improve his control of, as well as an over the top curveball that is his most effective pitch. Christian is developing into a pitcher and is almost unhittable, when he's on his game. Quality college left-handers are always going to be in big demand. Friedrich appears to be the second the most popular choice by the fans of Cardinal Nation, so if hometown favorite Tim Mellville isn't available. Here is where 2+2 may equal #1.
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