With the St. Louis Cardinals pretty much done with their big moves this offseason, it has been pretty quiet for Cardinal Nation of late. Because of this, I decided it was a perfect time to bring you my third edition of prospects to watch for the 2014 MLB Draft. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here, and if you missed Part 2, then here you go.
With both of the Cardinals picks later in the first round, I decided to forego talking about any of the “lottery prospects” per se. No need to get fans hyped up about a player that will almost certainly be unavailable by the time it’s the Cardinals turn. Now, I realize I wrote about some top prospects in previous posts, but that’s merely because I saw some mock drafts that had them falling back to later in the draft.
1. Derek Hill (OF)
High School: Elk Grove HS, CA
I am taking a look at Hill because in Bleacher Report’s latest mock draft, they have the Cardinals selecting him with their 31st pick.
According to a Baseball America post from last summer, Hill has top-class speed–both on the base paths and in the field. Based on the numbers (~6.4 second 60-yard-dash and 3.9-4.1 seconds from home to first), he would probably already be at the top of the organization in terms of outfield range–a welcoming sight given the Cardinals’ 2013 range in center field. His arm is slightly above average which further cements him as one of the best defensive center fielders in the draft.
Want video proof of his range? Check out this clip from YouTube. What a dazzling play–the play of the tournament.
At the plate, this 6’1″ 175 pound righty packs quite the gap-to-gap punch. According to Baseball America, he has a short compact stroke, and he “rarely swings and misses.” A right-handed bat with speed who rarely swings and misses? Who doesn’t like the sound of that?
2. Cobi Johnson (RHP)
High School: JW Mitchell HS, FL
Like Hill, I chose to write about Johnson because another site had the Cardinals selecting him in their mock draft. According to a post from Baseball America, this 6’4″ righty delivers quite a downward plane on his pitches despite having just a three-quarters arm slot. He is a quick and efficient worker who pitches to contact, but is also able to strike guys out when he needs to–largely due his deceptive arm motion.
His fastball ranges from 89-91 MPH with late downward movement, but like Michael Wacha, it will likely increase as he develops his pitches and grows into his 6’4″ frame. His father, Dane Johnson, is a former major league pitcher known for his curveball. Well, like father like son, Cobi has quite the curveball of his own (check out the 38 second mark of that video for proof). Professional baseball is in his genes, and as a student of the game that is still growing physically, his future is very bright.
3. Kodi Medeiros (LHP)
High School: Waiakea HS, HI
Through the Fence Baseball has the Cardinals selecting lefty Medeiros in their latest mock draft. His profile on Perfect Game says it all, “Can flat out pitch! Unhittable and up to 95 at PG AA. Excellent breaking ball. Impressed at WWBA World Championship.” Need I say more?
This lefty has an unorthodox motion (three-quarters dropping down to side-arm at times) with two plus pitches already in his arsenal. His fastball touches 95-96 MPH (watch his pitch sequence starting at 1:12 of that video…nasty!) and his sharp slider basically renders lefthanders useless at the plate. At just 6’0″, there are some doubts of his projectability as a big league starter, but with his devastating stuff that you cannot teach, the Cardinals would surely find a way to develop him. They seem to be pretty good at developing young pitchers don’t they?
4. Braxton Davidson (1B/OF)
High School: TC Roberson HS, NC
Baseball Draft Report has the Cardinals selecting Davidson in their latest mock draft. At 6’3″, 220 pounds, this left-handed bat has very good power potential. He’s got one of the most powerful swings in the draft that can be seen in this video (start watching video around the 1:35 mark).
According to Baseball America, when Davidson makes contact, “the ball makes a different sound than that of other players as it explodes off his bat.” In a showcase over the summer in Minnesota, he deposited two long home run balls into the upper deck of the Metrodome. He admits that he swings and misses too much, but with time and development, I am sure he can cut back on this.
I have not seen many defense reports about him which isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing. I have seen videos of him in the outfield and at first base, and it looks like he can handle both positions relatively well. However, like I made clear, he is known much more for his bat than his glove.
5. Taylor Sparks (3B/1B/OF)
College: UC Irvine
Baseball America has him ranked 50th on their October MLB Draft preview. He led the Collegiate Team USA in hitting this summer. He can play either corner infield spot and probably has the power to project as a corner outfielder as well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really find many reports on him nor any good videos. However, if Baseball America ranks him in their top 50, he is definitely worth keeping an eye on. He will likely be playing his last collegiate season this spring for the UC Irvine Anteaters.
There you have it. Five more prospects for your reading/following pleasure. I now have taken a look at 15 MLB Draft prospects. With the Cardinals having two picks in the first round, let’s hope that one of the fifteen gets their name called by St. Louis so we know a little bit about them before draft day.
Until next time…
- 2014 MLB Draft: Five Prospects to Keep an Eye On (Part 2) (stlcupofjoe.com)
- A VERY Early Preview of the 2014 MLB Draft (stlcupofjoe.com)
- St. Louis Cardinals Prospect Watch: Marco Gonzales (stlcupofjoe.com)