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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reviewing the Cardinals' Draft -- Rounds 11-20

Posted By on Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 8:03 AM

We're starting to get into territory where the names are hard to find and the scouting info thin on the ground, ladies and gentlemen. Of the 10 players the Cardinals drafted between the 11th and 20th rounds, there were only four whose names I had heard before the draft. Which, I'm somewhat sorry to say, is why I won't be giving full scouting reports on all these guys. The ones I actually know something about, or can dig up some decent information on, I'll give you what I can. The others, we'll just have to wait until they accumulate some minor-league time to figure out what they're all about. 

In the first ten rounds, the Cardinals went heavy on athleticism and speed, taking four outfielders who fit a fairly similar profile. It certainly fits an organizational need, as the Cards' farm system has long been heavy on track records and light on track stars, a situation the scouting department seemed eager to rectify. That emphasis on athleticism is certainly interesting, both in finding a lens to view the current class of draftees and looking for a crystal ball to check out the future. 

Round 11, 350 Overall -- Michael (Seth) Maness, RHP, East Carolina

Score one for the Cardinals' draft philosophy of old, the one that resulted in right-handed pitchers with solid college track records selected by the boatload. Maness, a college senior, won 38 games in his career at East Carolina, a number you don't often see. 

What's more interesting about Maness is he experienced a huge jump in his overall performance from his junior to senior seasons. In his 2010 junior campaign, he posted a 4.17 ERA; in 2011, his ERA was just 1.71. The difference can be accounted almost entirely for by a dramatic reduction in his home run rate; Maness gave up 12 longballs in 101 innings in 2010 against just 3 in 105 innings this year. It could be simple luck, of course, but such a large discrepancy could also be due to a change in approach or repertoire. (For instance, the addition of a sinker or some such thing.) Batted ball data is tough to come by for college players, so I'll just leave that as idle speculation for now. 

As for stuff, Maness isn't going to blow you away, by any means, but he does have a solid idea of how to pitch. He has an excellent changeup to go with a rather pedestrian fastball, and he really earns his money working the edges of the strike zone. He reminds me a bit of P.J. Walters, the Cards' current farm hand and secret anti-Alfonso Soriano weapon, and it wouldn't shock me to see Maness have a similar career arc. He's never going to have the raw stuff to dominate, but a good changeup, the ability to hit your spots, and some mound smarts can get you a long way in the pitching world. 

Round 12, 380 Overall -- Danny Stienstra, 1B, San Jose State University

I'm not a big fan of this pick. No offense to Mr. Stienstra, who I am sure is a lovely human being, but I don't see a whole lot here to really like. 

Stienstra is a first baseman with very little power, and not a whole lot of patience, either. He does have gobs of contact ability and so should be able to hit for a high average in pro ball, but it's probably going to be a pretty empty average, especially considering his likely position. 

I will say this: Stienstra is the proud owner of one of the more impressive strikeout to walk ratios I've ever seen from a player: in 2011 he struck out just 9 times in 269 plate appearances, and walked 24 times. Walking nearly three times as often as you strike out has to be worth something, I suppose. 

I was kind of hoping Stienstra might be one of those big park factor guys, like I talked about with Kolten Wong, but no such luck. The San Jose State stadium plays with a PF of 116, meaning it substantially inflates offensive numbers. Ouch. 

Oh, and by the way, before I forget, all college park factor information is courtesy of I have no idea how that guy finds the time to do all the work he does, but I'm more thankful for it than I could ever express. 

All in all, I don't see a lot to be excited for with Stienstra. Still, here's hoping the Cards see something they can change in his approach or his swing or his training regimen -- such as daily injections of bull semen into his femoral artery or something -- that might bring him some better power. 

Round 14, 440 Overall -- Kevin Medrano, 2B, Missouri State 

In the fourteenth round, the Cardinals took their second Cape Cod League all-star second baseman of the draft. A little less heralded than Kolten Wong, Medrano nonetheless had an outstanding showing in the 2010 Cape season, with a .321/.377/.423 slash line. That .800 OPS on the Cape is nothing to sneeze at; the very best college hitters go to Cape Cod every year to get their asses handed to them as they struggle with wood bats. The Cards have a well-known proclivity for drafting players who have performed well in the CCL as well. 

Something interesting to note: Medrano apparently struggled horribly with the new bats college baseball moved to this season. In 2010, he posted a 1.047 OPS; in 2011, that dropped to just .763. His draft stock predictably tanked. You might consider that huge fall-off in production a rather large red flag, but his production on the Cape with wood would seem to argue against that same conclusion. It's possible there were some injury issues as well, but I'm unaware of them if there were. Perhaps some reader familiar with the Bears' baseball program could share some insight on Medrano's struggles with the bat in 2011. 

Medrano walked more often than he struck out in both his sophomore and junior seasons, and profiles as a speedy, slappy type at the top of a lineup. At the very least, he has plenty of room to add to his 6'1", 155(!)lb frame, so there may be more strength in his future than what he's shown so far. Seriously, one can only hope at least part of Medrano's signing bonus is earmarked for sandwiches. 

Also, I have no idea what was going on with the music in that clip. Why someone decided to turn that at-bat into an X-Files episode is beyond me. 

Round 15, 470 Overall -- Matt Williams, SS, Liberty University

Undersized at 5'10", Williams nevertheless has hit for big power throughout his college career. He posted a .954 OPS his junior season, with nine home runs and 28 extra base hits altogether. He also stole 16 bases, showing an intriguing combination of power and speed. His home park in college is a mild hitter's park but not an extreme one, so it isn't as if his numbers are an illusory product of a hitter's haven. 

Williams also played in the Cape Cod League last summer, though unlike the two second basemen the Cards selected he tanked a bit, with a .514 OPS. The consensus seems to be Williams should stick at shortstop, which would make his potential offensive upside a rare find so late in the draft. 

Round 17, 530 Overall -- Dutch Deol, OF, Aliso Niguel HS (California) 

A dual-sport athlete, Deol has big-time athleticism to go with an all-time great baseball name. Somewhat more highly thought of as a football recruit, Deol plays both linebacker and tight end on the gridiron, which should give you a pretty good idea of his build. At 6'3" and 200 lbs, he has the frame of a power hitter, and the swing of one as well. He takes a big hack regardless of the count, and has the high strikeout totals to prove it. 

Deol is very raw as a baseball player, unsurprising for a kid who has divided his attention between sports up until now. I don't know how tough a sign he's expected to be, but if he ultimately chooses baseball the Cards may have added a significant ceiling to their system. I believe as a two-sport athlete Deol would also fall under the stipulation in the rules that the drafting team can choose to spread out his signing bonus over the next five years, rather than paying it all up front. I could be wrong, though; those rules are a little tough to figure out from case to case. 

Round 18, 560 Overall -- Kyle Hald, LHP, Old Dominion

At just 5'11", Hald doesn't exactly strike an imposing figure on the mound, but he's been quite successful in his career at Old Dominion. He led the Colonial Athletic Association in strikeouts the last two seasons, averaging 10.13 K/9 his senior year, and has steadily cut his walks throughout his college career. 

Aa a college senior draftee, Hald has the chance to move quickly through the minors, as he's basically already close to a finished product. His ceiling is likely as a lefty reliever, but he doesn't have far to go to reach it. There's value to be had if your minor league system can produce Trever Miller rather than having to buy him, and Hald might just fit that mold. 

Round 19, 590 Overall -- Nick Gillung, LHP, Mercyhurst College 

Another college senior who throws from the left side, Gillung has solid stuff, beginning with a fastball that has more hop than you expect from a lefty, especially one with his size. (Or lack thereof.) Just a shade over 6'0" and 180 lbs, Gillung's small frame (and small school), kept him on the board for a long time. 

His numbers suggest he might very well be deserving of higher stature, as he led all Division II with a 13.25 K/9 rate in 2011, and has been a strikeout machine his entire career. He owns the single-season strikeout record at both Mercyhurst and Punxsutawney High School. 

Honestly, the biggest reason I included Gillung here is because I could actually find video of him pitching, and I kind of like his delivery. I especially like how low he finishes; that's the mark of a pitcher driving down and through his pitches when you see the flat back and the hand almost down to the ground. 

Round 20, 620 Overall -- Aramis Garcia, C, Pines Charter High School (Florida) 

I honestly cannot believe a kid like Garcia lasted this long. I looked at him some earlier in the spring, and had him pegged in the 4-6 round range. Maybe he just slipped through the cracks, maybe I just don't know what I'm talking about. Or, maybe there's some other reason he was still on the board, and I just don't know what it is. 

Garcia is that new breed of athletic catcher which is becoming increasingly popular in major league baseball. He has a long, lean build at 6'2" and 190 lbs, and he moves extremely well behind the plate. His very best pop times are already major league caliber, though that's obviously in practice, not in the heat of the game. Still, the arm strength and agility are well advanced, and give Garcia a chance to be a plus-plus defender down the road. High school catchers have an horrific bust rate in the minors, but there aren't many who can field the position the way Garcia can either. 

With the bat in his hands, Garcia is significantly more raw, but he shows definite potential. He has strong, quick hands, and makes an athletic move into his swing I like. While he has a long way to go before he's anywhere near ready to compete offensively at a high level, he's shown flashes of real power, and there could be more to come as he matures. 

I'm a huge fan of the Garcia pick. Catchers have a high attrition rate just as a general rule, but his advanced defensive package gives him a chance to stick around, and if his bat develops he could be something special. 

I'll probably do the remaining 30 rounds of the draft in two bursts, as there aren't a whole lot of players in those rounds I know much of anything about. Of course, the Cardinals don't make it any easier to dig up info on these guys, taking unheralded players and guys completely off the beaten path as often as they do. 

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