Due to the St. Louis Cardinals deep playoff run and the likely departure of Carlos Beltran, the organization, led by scouting director, Dan Kantrovitz, will get two picks in “first round” of the 2014 MLB Draft–their regular pick as well as the compensation pick if Beltran signs elsewhere. The already-stacked farm system looks to replenish some openings now that many prospects have moved onto the big league club.
The prized prospect of the 2014 Draft is Carlos Rodon (here’s a quick 1 minute video of him here), a 6’3″ left-handed pitcher from North Carolina State. However, with the Cardinals not picking until much later in the draft, I won’t even get your hopes up by discussing him much further. If you want a quick comparison, though? His motion and movement on his pitches reminds me of David Price. Lofty expectations? Maybe. However, Baseball America stated that he would have been the #1 rated prospect over the last two seasons as well if he would have been eligible for the draft.
Onto more realistic options…
Kyle Schwarber (C/1B/OF)
College: Indiana University, Team USA Member
Schwarber is currently the 17th ranked prospect eligible for the 2014 MLB Draft according to Baseball America. At 6’0″, 230 pounds, he has a build similar to Matt Adams and Brett Wallace which could be frightening to some Cardinals fans out there. However, considering he has played catcher at the NCAA Division I level for the Indiana Hoosiers, it is apparent that he is a little more nimble than these two.
He likely projects as a first baseman or left fielder at the big league level, but it is clear that his best asset is his hitting. He mashes pitches to all fields and possesses much more than just “gap power.” In 235 at-bats last season for the Hoosiers, he had 18 homers, including this opposite field shot in the Big Ten Tournament at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.
Will he still be available when it’s time for the Cardinals to pick? It may not be likely, but if teams are afraid of his body type, I would not be surprised if the Cardinals selected this big bat out of IU.
Matt Chapman (SS/3B/RHP??)
College: Cal State Fullerton, Team USA Member
Chapman is currently the 25th ranked prospect eligible for the 2014 MLB Draft according to Baseball America. He is recovering from a torn tendon in his finger but is on track for the spring season at Cal State Fullerton.
He has excellent power but lacks consistency due to a lot of moving parts in his swing (easy to see in this video) so who knows what his future holds, but it is bright nonetheless. He has played third base and shortstop for the Titans the last two seasons. According to Baseball America, he will likely be playing third this spring as well as taking over as Cal State Fullerton’s closer. He is able to bring it 97+ MPH from the mound, so he will likely flourish in the role.
Based on his performance this upcoming spring, he may still be available for the Cardinals in the draft. He would be an attractive pick-up for them considering they can start him out as a position player and have a fall-back option of him being yet another hard-throwing righty for the bullpen.
Bradley Zimmer (OF)
College: San Francisco, Team USA Member
Zimmer is easily my favorite prospect eligible for the draft. Baseball America ranks him 12th overall so he may not even be around when the Cardinals make their pick His older brother, Kyle Zimmer, was picked 5th in the 2012 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals, so baseball obviously runs in the family.
Zimmer is a lanky, 6’5″ 205 pound left-handed hitting outfielder with one of the sweetest swings I have seen in my preliminary research so far. As he develops, he will add bulk to his broad frame which will add home run power to his bat. He glides in the outfield giving him excellent range–something Cardinal fans will definitely enjoy watching.
Monte’ Harrison (OF)
High School: Lee’s Summit, MO
Harrison, who is currently ranked 41st by Baseball America, is probably the best overall athlete in the entire draft. He is the first high school athlete that I will discuss. Considering he is rumored to be receiving offers to play both football and baseball at schools like Oregon and Ohio State, he may be a tough sign, but it doesn’t hurt to take a look anyways.
Here is a baseball video of him at the 2013 Under Armour All-American Showcase as well as this highlight-reel catch in which he displays both his football ability and overall athleticism. Update: Per his Rivals.com page, he has a “solid verbal” commitment to play both sports at the University of Nebraska.
As a high-schooler, it would obviously take some time for him to make it to the big leagues, but you rarely come across an athlete as good as Harrison. Also, last time I checked, the Cardinals have done well drafting people from Lee’s Summit, MO–see Trevor Rosenthal. Like I said earlier, he may be a tough sign, but if any team could sway him towards forgoing college, I believe the home-state St. Louis Cardinals could be the one.
Jakson Reetz (C)
High School: Hickman, NE
Unfortunately, Yadier Molina cannot catch forever. Though he has been a machine throughout his career, he is definitely nearing the twilight of his career. The Cardinals know this so they moved top prospect, Carson Kelly, to catcher during instructional league this off-season.
However, just in case this experiment fails, it would be wise of the Cardinals to draft a catcher of the future. Reetz, ranked 49th by Baseball America, appears to be this guy. A member of the 18U Team USA team this summer, Reetz showed ability both at the plate as well as behind it. He has somewhat of a funky swing, but has incredibly powerful torque right before contact, and it can be seen in this video of him taking batting practice at the Perfect Game All-American Classic this summer.
There you have it. A very early preview of five of the top prospects eligible for the 2014 MLB Draft. I took a look at 3 college players as well as 2 high school players. This is just my first installment, so make sure to keep an eye on www.stlCupofJoe.com for more updates in the future.
Until next time…
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