And so we come to the final push, dear friends. The very last gasp of the draft class. The final group of players taken by the Cardinals for 2011 contains a couple very intriguing talents, including a tough sign from St. Louis who could wind up with as high a ceiling as any player drafted this year.
Below are the links to the previous reviews. It's taken me longer than I had planned to get all these done, but looking back I'm relatively happy with the pieces themselves. As for the Cards' actual draft picks, I'm relatively pleased with those as well. Wong, the first round pick, wouldn't have been my selection, but the thinking behind drafting is, I believe, sound. After that the Redbirds put a heavy emphasis on athletic upside this time around, and I like that.
The lack of size and power in the class as a whole concerns me somewhat, but not too terribly much. I particularly like the team didn't shy away from taking high school players, which they have at times in the past. A team with a solid draft strategy must be willing to take talent from whatever source available, and I think they did a much better job of that this year than in some others.
Round 36, 1100 Overall -- Jordan (Casey) Rasmus, C, Liberty University
Yep, he is indeed related to that other Rasmus in town, the much-maligned Colby. I can't wait to hear the talk radio reaction if the Cardinals somehow end up with not just one but a pair of Rasmuses on the team somewhere in the future.
The catching Rasmus is an athletic player who moves well behind the plate and has a solid, balanced approach with a bat in his hands. He was more highly thought of coming out of high school (though he was never the level prospect Colby was), but hasn't been entirely successful turning his tools into production in his college career. He's a good hitter, but doesn't show much in the way of power. Still, he has above-average tools and a good bloodline, and has shown enough with the glove in the past to make it a long way in pro ball.
Rasmus was the second player the Cards took from Liberty University this year; shortstop Matt Williams was their selection in the 15th round.
Round 38, 1160 Overall -- Jeremy Patton, 3B, Florida International
Patton presented me with a bit of a lucky break, as I actually have a cousin attending FIU. I shall call him Trevor, because that is his name. He's a big baseball fan, and I hoped he would have seen Patton play at least a time or two while on campus. So I called Trevor up and asked him for a scouting report. This is what he said:
"He ain't a real big guy, but man, he can hit."
Short, to the point, and useful. And apparently accurate, too, as all indications elsewhere seem to agree Patton can, in fact, hit.
What's also interesting -- to me, at least -- is that Patton went to Florida International after two years of playing for Jefferson College, alma mater of Mark Buerhle, which is literally three miles from where I grew up. If I had realised there was a big-time prospect playing in my parents' backyard I would have paid a little more attention. He's originally from Missouri, grew up rooting for the Cardinals, and is already playing for their short-season club in Batavia, hitting .625. He sounds like a third base version of Kolten Wong. Not real big, necessarily, but man, he can hit.
Round 41, 1250 Overall -- Mike Knox, 1B, Mount Olive College
Mike Knox is a slugger, no two ways about it. He hit four home runs in a game for Mt. Olive, the first player in the school's history to do so. He slugged .832 this past season, and hit 42 homers total in two years.
Knox transferred to Mt. Olive after one season at UNC, though why he did so I don't know. He's lacking in most areas not related to hitting a baseball a long way, with below-average athleticism and a swing that can lead to high strikeout totals. Still, power is one of the least teachable tools in all of sports, and Knox has that in spades.
Round 43, 1310 Overall -- Chris Constantino, RHP, Walters State Community College
I don't know anything about Mr. Constantino, nor was I able to find out a whole lot. The two things I do know are this: he struck out 65 hitters in 43 innings this year, which is meaningful no matter the level of competition, and he apparently was a pretty fair power hitter coming out of high school. Those two things tell me he has the stuff to miss bats, and enough athleticism to hopefully repeat his mechanics. The small school caveat certainly applies, but anytime a pitcher can miss bats he has to be considered at least an intriguing talent.
Here's some video of him in his position player days. Or, at least, I assume it's the same Chris Constantino. I suppose it's possible there are two amateur baseball players with the same name, but I think it's more likely there's just one who ended up on the mound instead of in the field.
Round 45, 1370 Overall -- Cooper Moseley, 2B, Central Alabama Community College
Another player who started out at a major college program before transferring. It's interesting the Cardinals have taken so many of these guys in the draft this year. I wonder if they believe there are players with big league talent who fall through the cracks by moving around in school.
Moseley himself may be a bit of a tough sign, and has himself described it as a 50-50 proposition right now. He started out playing for Georgia, and actually led the team in saves his freshman season. He does pretty much everything well on the baseball diamond, whether on the mound, in the field, or with a bat in his hands. Playing for Central Alabama this past season he struck out 62 in 46 innings, hit .438, and added 6 home runs on top of all that.
Round 47, 1430 Overall -- David Schmidt, RHP, CBC High School (Missouri)
The second high-upside pitcher the Cards took from the St. Louis area, Schmidt, like Brett Graves, is also a high schooler with a firm college commitment that puts him smack dab in the middle of tough sign land.
Schmidt's school of choice is Stanford, which I have to imagine the Cardinals are a little eager to exact some revenge upon since Austin Wilson decided to play for the Cardinal instead of the Cardinals. Unfortunately, Stanford is one of the toughest schools to buy a kid away from, it seems, though you would have to think the Cards probably have a better chance than another team might.
Schmidt isn't the biggest guy, going about 6'0" and a buck seventy or so, but he has a major league arm without question. He can already push his fastball up to 95, sitting comfortably in the low 90s. His heater has impressive movement as well, with hard, downward action that chews up hitters now and I think will play even better against wood, when the jam shots turn into broken bats.
The downside to Schmidt is he already has a history of arm problems with a shoulder surgery and a bout of tendinitis in his past, and his arm action scares me. Still, the upside with Schmidt is sky-high, and if the Cardinals can actually convince him to sign rather than heading off to college he would immediately join the group of elite arms in the system alongside names like Tyrell Jenkins, Joe Kelly, and Trevor Rosenthal. Not quite Shelby Miller or Carlos Martinez territory, but definitely a major talent.
Round 50, 1520 Overall -- Tyler Sibley, 2B, Texas State
Rounding out the Cards' 2011 draft is Tyler Sibley, a middle infield who falls squarely into the speedy/scrappy/gritty/hustley/leadoff hitter prototype you see so often in middle infielders. Coming from a fairly small school Sibley doesn't have the big-time pedigree, but he did put up some fairly impressive performances during his time there.
Sibley was an absolute monster his freshman year, winning All-American honours and posting a 1.050 OPS. While neither of his next two season hit quite those same kind of heights, he still put together a very impressive college career. This season he posted a .340/.428/.480 line, stole 20 bases, and walked nearly twice as often as he struck out, with a 36/19 BB/K ratio.
And that's the end, everybody. All in all, an intriguing group, and one I look forward to tracking over the next few years. Something a little odd I've noticed about Jeff Luhnow's drafting strategy is that he drafts a wide variety of player types, but doesn't seem to do so within a single draft, necessarily. Where you might usually look at a team's draft and see some polished college performers, a few athletic tools bets, a couple signability guys, etc., the Cardinals seem to focus on one specific type of player in a given draft, then focus on a different type the next year. This year they went heavy on athleticism and speed, light on size and power, and drafted a bunch of high school kids. They took a ton of lefthanded pitchers, as well. What they focus on next year is anybody's guess.