The St. Louis Cardinals under first year scouting director Randy Flores look to restock a once stacked farm system. Currently the Cards have three of the top 34 picks, two of those being first round picks at the Cubs expense. In fact, by the times the Cubs get their first pick (slot 104), the Cards will almost be on their 5th pick (slot 106). So thank the Cubs for the draft stock early on due to signing Jason Heyward and John Lackey. Now that we know how the Cardinals gained so many picks early, let’s set the table.
The Cardinals once had the one of the deepest farm system in the majors just a few years back. However, some prospects are gone via trade or death, others are in the majors , and some just haven’t made a push to the majors as hoped. The teams top prospect Alex Reyes has had drug issues, Marco Gonzales hasn’t been healthy, and the rest of the top-30 list isn’t inspiring at the moment. So far by position group the top 30 by position are:
SP/RP – 15
INF (Catchers) – 8 (2)
OF – 5
The Cardinals have the early picks of #23, #33, and #34. Here are some of the picks that make sense for the Cardinals trio of first round picks.
#23 – T.J. Zeuch, RHP, Pittsburgh
One thing the Cardinals can never have enough of is pitching. While it’s hard to think the pick previous to the Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, will pass on a local 6’7 pitcher. If he falls to the Cardinals it will give something the Cardinals desperately lack, a different pitcher. The Cardinals have a lot of RHP’s who deliver the same arm slot, same velocity, same off-speed reliability, etc. If they want a tall fireballer here he is.
#33 – Will Craig, 3B/ RHP, Wake Forest
Will Craig was a nobody when he took an offer to Wake Forest, he then went on to be an ACC Player of the Year in 2015 and would win a dozen other awards as well. He is a 6’3/230lbs 3rd-baseman who has pitched and hits mid-90’s so his arm is with out question good. He also hits .380 and is at the top of almost every offensive category in the ACC. Some people think he is to stocky for 3rd, but if the Cardinals take Craig they will have instant offense in the organization. Another good sign, he draws more walks than strikeouts.
#34 Matt Thaiss, C, Virginia
Do I expect him to fall outside the top 30? No, but he does get slotted in the rankings as about the #40 best prospect in the draft. He has power, he hits for average batting ,323 last year, and jumping to .375 this year. he also has a 2-1 walk-to-strikeout ratio. and has hit at the pace of an RBI per game this season. If the Cardinals see him fall to this point where they get back-to-back picks he is the piece that can challenge for the heir to Yadi Molina, who may need help sooner rather than later.