Category Archives: Minor Leagues

2011 MLB Draft Preview: Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at the Cards draft history and trends. In Part 2 we will focus on players to target with are 1st Rd picks and what each brings to the table. I will create a Part 3 and maybe Part 4 that will focus on the 2nd and 3rd Rds so I can give plenty of justice to each pick and players involved. I will not be focusing on players that have no chance to get to us (AKA Lindor who would be a perfect scenario for us) with our 1st Rd pick but will include some guys that have extreme outside shots at reaching us (usually due to bonus demands). Lets jump right in…

Cards Picks:
1st Rd – #22 Overall
2nd Rd – #79 Overall
3rd Rd – #109 Overall

1st Rd – #22 Overall

Overview:

In the 1st Rd I always say you NEVER pick based on needs. You always go BPA that falls within the budget that you are comfortable with. All indications are the Cards are willing to spend fairly big on our 1st Rd pick since we have no extra picks and won’t pick again until #79 overall. That means we might be willing to go as high as $5M on a player. Continue reading

2011 MLB Draft Preview: Part 1

One of my favorite times of the year is happening as we speak. Leading up to the MLB Draft (June 6-8) gets a lot of buzz about players draft stock rising and falling, mock drafts from every outlet and blog sites, the rumors of outrageous bonus demands and the promise to improve each teams farm system. The 2011 MLB Draft class is loaded with talent and is considered by some as the best draft class ever. Time will tell but that gives you an idea of what type of talent level we are talking about.

In my 2 part series I am going to focus on the Cards draft for 2011. We will focus on our draft history, strategy trends and players that I anticipate us focusing on in the first few rounds. In Part 1 we will focus on our draft history and strategy trends (under Luhnow) and how I anticipate this getting tweaked a bit this year.

Jeff Luhnow, Vice President of Player Procurement, has lead the Cards draft since 2005. He was also in charge of our player development until this offseason where a few changes occurred to allow Luhnow to focus on scouting and the draft and transition player development to John Vuch who has been with the organization since the 70′s. Luhnow has produces such talent as Colby Rasmus, Jaime Garcia, John Jay, Chris Perez (Indians via trade), Brett Wallace (Astros via trade), Shelby Miller and Zack Cox to name a few. The biggest knock on Luhnow is he hasn’t produced many star players throughout the years. Part of the reason was we had very little depth in system. For a number of years we were looking for faster moving high floor players to show quick results with our players. In more recent years we have seen him go with a little more upside as our system gets a little more depth. Two years ago we hit our system hard with 2 big trades (Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa) that forced us to hand over a number of players that were in our Top 10-15 prospects. Overall he has done an adequate job but definitely not extraordinary. He has a chance to do big things this year with so much talent available. Here is a rundown of the Cards typical draft strategy/trends since 2005. Continue reading

Prospect Movement

There have been a few key announcements recently with our prospects. Late last week after another dominating performance our prized pitching prospect, Shelby Miller, was promoted to AA Springfield. His debut will be Friday night again Corpus Christi. The other big news which Jon touched on in his last post is Lance Lynn getting the call to make his MLB debut tonight for the Cards.

UPDATE: Maikel Cleto was also promoted from AA straight to the majors with Holliday hitting the DL. To me this is a big head scratcher. A guy that has had a total of 5 appearances above High A is getting promoted? We have a slew of other guys that are MLB ready or what I would consider ahead of Cleto in the pecking order. Guys like Boggs (the logical choice), Jess Todd, Adam Ottavino (who I have stated a number of times is destine for the bullpen) and Brian Broderick (who was just returned to us from the Nats as a Rule 5 selection this offseason) to name a few. Cleto was already on the 40 man roster which I am sure was a factor. Is this showcasing Cleto for trade bait? Have no faith in the others mentioned? Just put some names in a hat to see who gets the call? All good questions that I can’t answer. What do we get with Cleto? He is a fireballer that is still working on his control (which by all counts has improved this year). His secondary offerings (CB and CH) show potential as an avg or slightly better pitch but are quite inconsistent. Continue reading

River Bandits at Busch

Praying all day that the weather would hold out for the River Bandits vs Cougars game tonight at Busch I was watching the weather every hour at work today! Got to the ball park tonight 30 mins before game time and enjoyed the very long concession lines…but at least all food and drink was half off. Now lets get to the game notes!

I watch from afar as Carlos Martinez warmed up in the pen prior to the game. Couldn’t tell much but I was quite excited to see one of the best prospects in our system. Finally the national anthem and then the River Bandits took the field. You could tell Martinez was a little jazzed up as he warmed up but held his composure quite well. As the game started and Martinez threw his first few pitches you could tell his FB was humming (the stadium radar gun was not clocking). His motion was a little whippy and he fell off to the first base side. I saw plenty of FB’s with an occasional CB thrown in the mix. His FB doesn’t has as much movement as I thought it would and he was actually quite hittable which was a big surprise to me. He had a few dynamite CB’s that either froze hitters or made a few look flat out silly. I would say it was a plus pitch tonight. I didn’t see too many CH so didn’t get a read on it. Overall you can see the immense potential and the raw tools he brought to the table…but at the same time he is definitely years away from the majors. Check out the amateur videos I posted on YouTube below (be nice as I was trying to do the best I could to keep my Droid still as I shot the video!). I also have a few pictures on Flickr with links below. Continue reading

Cox promoted to Springfield

The Cards top pick from the 2010 MLB Draft, Zack Cox, was promoted from Palm Beach (High A) to Springfield (AA) today. In a corresponding move Niko Vasquez (2008 3rd Rdr) was demoted to Palm Beach.

This move shouldn’t come as any big surprise as we signed Cox to a ML deal with a reported $3.2M deal last August at the signing deadline. He was considered the most advanced hitter in the class that should be able to move quickly. The concerns with Cox is will he hit for enough power and will he play adequately at 3B. Early on in the year he was purely a singles hitter which was concerning for some people…not I. Pretty much his first exposure to professional baseball and he was put at High A in a pitcher friendly league. It takes time to adjust. Within the past few weeks he has shown he is getting comfortable and started hitting more doubles and a few HR’s. As of today he is hitting .325 AVG, 8 Doubles, 3 HR, .380 OBP and .819 OPS. Not bad for being in a pitcher friendly league. His defense has been at least adequate at 3B so there shouldn’t be any concerns there.

With Springfield being more hitter friendly we should certainly see him hit for more power once he gets accustom to the big jump to AA. To me this is the biggest jump in the minors so be patient and let him get his feet wet. But there is no reason he shouldn’t hit hit hit and hit some more!

With a solid showing in AA the rest of the year it should set the stage for him to put himself into consideration for the 3B job in ST 2012. Should be interesting with a healthy David Freese, Cards MiLB Hitting MVP Matt Carpenter and Cox next year in ST.

Congrats to Zack Cox!

Quad City River Bandits at Busch

Exciting news for prospect geeks like myself came out semi-recently that the Quad City River Bandits (Cards Low A affiliate) were playing Kane County Cougars (Royals Low A affiliate) at Busch Stadium on Thursday, May 26th. Tickets are all GA and are $10 and all concessions are half price. The more exciting news is Carlos Martinez is scheduled to pitch in that outing. That alone makes it worth paying $10 to get an early glimpse of the star to be in the Cards system. If you decide to go here are some key Cards prospects to keep an eye on:

Carlos Martinez – RHP – As mentioned above he will be the highlight of the night. He has Shelby Miller upside and to me is the 2nd best prospect in our system. He supports a mid-upper 90s FB with movement and very good control at only 19! His secondary stuff is underrated as he flashes a potential plus CH and CB and his SL will be at least avg long term. The word dynamite comes to mind!
Oscar Taveras – OF – He has been hit by the injury bug this year so hopefully he will be back in the lineup by the time they play next week. He has kind of an awkward stance and swing but don’t let that fool you. At worst he will have great gap power but I see more power to come as he grows. Definitely one of those exciting players that puts butts in the seats. BTW – in his limited time this year (just over 50 AB’s) he is hitting .500 with a 1.228 OPS!

Cody Stanley/Juan Castillo – C – Both of these guys are fairly exciting offensively which is a nice bonus for a C. Stanley is provides solid D both from a catch and throw perspective. Honestly I don’t know much about Castillo’s D…but hopefully I get to see him behind the plate next week.
Nick Longmire – OF - A favorite of mine from the 2010 draft he is currently playing CF but I project as more of a RF. He is struggling this year as he needs to improve on cutting down his swing and not striking out as often and show better plate discipline to take a walk more often. But the tools are there and he is definitely an exciting player.
Other Pitchers – You may or may not see depending on if they try to get some of there guys to pitch on the big stage or just play it like a normal game: Trevor Rosenthal (#3 SP in our system on upside), Justin Wright (he almost has 2K/IP) and Seth Blair (struggling mightily with his command this year).
The moral of the story is if you like to see who you might see in STL in a few years then go to the Cardinal’s website and get some tickets. Needless to say I already have my tickets and will post a recap after the game!