Venturing into the middle rounds of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2015 Draft, shows a few potential steals.
Today we are going to take a look at the Cardinals’ draft in rounds 11-16, and see how those players finished the season. There were five players that the Cardinals were able to sign during this period and each of them offers their own intrigue and potential.
RHP Paul Salazar 11th Round Pick
Salazar did not get the opportunity to really showcase what talent he may have this season as he only appeared in two games for the GCL Cardinals this season, where he allowed five earned runs in 1.2 innings pitched.
There’s not much out there on Salazar, he was drafted out of high school in Texas and probably was a tougher sign for the Cardinals, as he didn’t get his first appearance until July 17th. Salazar will get a chance to show what he’s got next season with a “full” season with the GCL Cardinals.
Given that Salazar was drafted a round after the Cardinals drafted and unsuccessfully signed Kep Brown, I think there is some promise to Salazar here. With little information to go off of stats and scouting wise, we will have to see how he performs for the Cardinals next season.
Hopefully, we will see some of the promise that comes with the risky pick. Overall, I like the risks being taken in this draft, it shows that the Cardinals know they need to take risks to build the system some more.
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LHP Jacob Schlesener 12th Round Pick
Schlesener was another high school draftee for the Cardinals, coming from Rogersville, MO. In five appearances and 9.1 innings, he only allowed three earned runs on seven hits. Like Salazar, Shhlesener was a tougher sign, as he signed for over three times the slot value at $325,000. The Cardinals obviously saw something they liked in Schlesener and he will get a chance to prove his value next season where he will likely start with the GCL Cardinals.
Again, like Salazar this is an intriguing pick due to Schlesener being drafted out of high school. I would look for Schlesener to be a pitcher that could be a bit of a diamond in the rough type pitcher.
OF Craig Aikin 13th Round Pick
Aikin was drafted out of Oklahoma University like Jacob Evans a few rounds before him and had an interesting rookie season for the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization. He started out in Johnson City, and after one game was sent off to State College for 52 games, where he hit .243 in 152 at-bats. Aikin was then sent on to Palm Beach for three games and got three hits in 9 at-bats.
Aikin likely draws comparisons to fellow minor leaguer Charlie Tilson, a high average guy with some wheels. I think the club wants Aikin to get as many AB as possible, so he will likely start out in either Peoria or Palm Beach. It is slightly interesting that they moved him on to Palm Beach, where hitters usually struggle.
RHP Carson Cross 14th Round Pick
Cross had the best success out of all of these picks, as he started nine out of his ten games with State College. Cross finished the year with an ERA of 2.70, and had a run of four consecutive appearances pitching further than the fifth inning. His best start of the year came on August 1st, when he went six innings allowing just one earned run, on four hits and a walk, striking out six.
Cross comes from the University of Connecticut, where he was a bit of a sleeper due to a shoulder injury in 2014. In 2015, he became the fourth pitcher in school history to total 100 strikeouts. He is a big guy, standing in at 6’6 205 lbs, which is a good thing for a pitcher.
Surprisingly, Cross is not a power arm, as according to Baseball America, he has a fastball that mostly stays in the 80s and a real good changeup that fools hitters regularly. My guess is that the Cardinals’ scouts see something that they can work with here. I don’t see him being much in the big leagues with that velocity, but if he can develop some velocity along the way he could be a serviceable 4-5 starter.
RHP Max Almonte 16th Round Pick
The Cardinals were unfortunately unable to convince 15th round pick Ryan Merrill to sign, and so we will obviously skip over him and talk about Almonte here. This pick smells like a typical college senior grab, that is partly due to the numerous high school picks that needed to be signed over slot value.
Almonte didn’t have impressive numbers at Villanova as a starter, and was converted to a reliever during his senior year. However, his relief numbers weren’t impressive either as he struggled with an ERA of 4.15 and a high walk rate of 5.19, but the thing that likely grabbed scouts eyes were the strikeouts. Almonte struck out 15 in 17.1 innings as a senior for a K/9 of 7.79, which is pretty good.
The Almonte pick worked, as he had a pretty good run for State College, appearing in 11 games and only allowing five earned runs over 15 innings. He also was able to lower his walks significantly, as he finished the year with walk rate of 3.6.
Despite the fact that his strikeouts went down, I think there is something to like about this pick. He could be an average minor league depth guy, or he could develop into a potential bullpen addition in a few years.
That’ll do it for today, make sure you check out the past two recaps and come back for more next week.