On Sunday, I brought you a list of five prospects to watch for the 2014 MLB Draft. Today, I am providing you with another list of draft prospects to watch along with brief analysis, highlight videos, and the possibility of them being available for one of the two Cardinals first round picks.
Can you tell I am missing baseball or what? Also, as most of you know, I love writing about prospects, and I figured the MLB off-season and before the start of the NCAA season would be a perfect time to throw out some names for you all to keep track of throughout the 2014 season.
Trea Turner (SS)
College: NC State
Though I am almost 100% sure he will not be available by the time the Cardinals pick, I still decided to break him down. He is in the top five of the draft when it comes to speed, but some scouts, including ESPN’s Keith Law, have their doubts about his ability with the bat. Despite the doubts, he hit .368 with 7 home runs, 42 RBI and was 30 for 36 on stolen bases last season for the Wolf Pack. At 6’2″, 170 pounds, especially with a professional training staff, he has room to grow and add bulk which will help add power to his bat in the future.
He has top-of-the-order, game-changing speed which equates to stolen bases on the base paths and above-average range in the field. If other teams doubt the projectability of his bat at the professional level and skip on him, the Cardinals would be ecstatic to snag him with their late first round pick. This is wishful thinking, though. I have seen some mock drafts having him go as high as second overall, while some have him dropping back into the 20th-25th overall pick range. Yet, he really would look great with the “Birds on the Bat” across his chest.
Aaron Nola (RHP)
In short, Nola’s numbers for LSU in 2013 were absolutely ridiculous. In 17 starts, he had 126 innings pitched–good for a little over seven and one/third innings per start. His control was impeccable walking just 18 batters while striking out 122, giving him an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio of 6.78.
At 6’1″, 183 pounds, Nola doesn’t have that towering pitcher build that scouts rave about, but as you can see by the numbers, he doesn’t really need it. He makes up for it by employing a somewhat deceptive three-quarters motion to provide exception movement on three above-average pitches. His go-to is his sinker which touches 94 MPH with both downward and tailing movement. He also has a plus changeup that mimics the movement of his fastball. Finally, he has an above-average 11-5 breaking ball which is resembles a slurve more than just a curveball or slider.
Baseball America has him 10th in their latest 2014 draft rankings, so he, like Turner, will likely be unavailable by the time the Cardinals pick. However, if interested here is a video of him pitching in the Cape Cod League in 2012. His deceptive whipping motion is on full display in the video. In my opinion, he has the best chance of any pitching prospect to make a Michael Wacha-like rise through a team’s farm system. Let’s hope he doesn’t end up in the National League Central.
I know what you’re saying…what about a guy that has a chance at being available when the Cardinals pick? Well, here’s that guy…
Lukas Schiraldi (RHP)
College: University of Texas
After pitching his first two post-high school seasons at the JUCO level, Schiraldi is now a member of the Texas Longhorns. Because he was at the JUCO level, he flew under the radar a little bit. This, however, is no longer the case due to his 2013 Cape Cod League performance. He was given the BFC Whitehouse Outstanding Pitcher Award after he led the league with a 1.20 ERA. He had 27 strikeouts in 37.2 regular-season innings. Also, in his one playoff start in Cape Cod, he threw six shutout innings.
At 6’4″, 197 pounds, he could add a little bulk to his frame, but his height is what is desired in a pitching prospect. Baseball America has him ranked 47th–noting his “plus fastball and solid secondary repertoire.” His fastball touches 95 MPH, and his changeup is already big-league ready. As he develops his breaking ball at UT, he will be one of the top pitching prospects out there.
One of my favorite parts about him is his laid-back, goofy personality which can be seen in this 2.5 minute interview after his first start at Cape Cod. Give him time, and he could be the next Adam Wainwright–both on the mound and in the dugout/clubhouse. Based on his spring performance with Texas, he very well could be available for the Cardinals late in the first round, and I would be ecstatic if they were to pick him up. However, now that he plays for a perennial baseball powerhouse, Texas, scouts won’t be able to overlook him. I could see him flying up the draft board as the season rolls along.
Twitter: ?? (help if you can find it!)
Joey Pankake (SS/3B/OF/RHP??)
College: University of South Carolina
First off, look at his last name. Does it get much better than that? Pankake is built like a rock at 6’1″, 200 pounds and has the power to move over to third base or even a corner outfield spot if shortstop doesn’t work out for him. However, many scouts believe he has the athleticism and arm strength to stay at short-stop long-term. We will see where he plays at South Carolina this spring. Even if they move him from shortstop, scouts may still plug him back into that role once drafted.
In 2013 for the Gamecocks, he hit .311 with nine doubles, 11 home runs, and 42 RBI. He is a pure hitter with a plus arm in the field, as can be shown by the fact that he can bring it mid-90s from the mound. Pankake is definitely one to keep an eye on because though Baseball American lists him at 48th on their list right now, he is likely to move up as the NCAA season progresses. If available, he, too, would look really good in Cardinal red. A shortstop that can hit? Man, that would be nice to have in St. Louis.
Here is a one minute video of one of his BP sessions. Make sure to stick around until the 50 second mark…
J.J. Schwarz (C)
High School: Palm Beach Gardens
I admit it. I took a look at this guy strictly because of his first initial and last name (J. Schwarz). However, upon further review, this 17-year-old University of Florida signee looks to have quite the potent bat with gap-to-gap power. Early reports from this summer’s East Coast Pro Showcase indicate that he has quite the arm as well–picking off two runners in a game.
He was also a key performer on the Gold-medal winning 18-and-under Team USA squad at the World Cup. I am almost certain he will end up playing college ball at Florida instead of signing, but like I said, I just had to check out a guy with the same name as me. Here is a Baseball America video of Schwarz taking batting practice this summer.
Well, there’s part two of my 2014 MLB Draft Preview. The first two mentioned, Turner and Nola, will likely be unavailable, but the following two could be available when the Cardinals pick. Both Schiraldi and Pankake would be excellent values late in the first round. What about Schwarz? Yeah, he will probably end up at Florida, but he does have a cool last name, though.
Until next time…
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