One of the ways that the power issue can be addressed is with a change in organizational philosophy. Tina and Larry discuss whether they think is in process or whether the St. Louis Cardinals will stay with the tried and true.
Do you see any evidence to suggest the team may be going through any evolution on this front? Sure, they just traded for Tyler O’Neill, but he graded out fine across the board, and I always hate to extrapolate from one decision.
Does the Cards 2017 draft or any other actions — perhaps how they’re moving power prospects through the system, like DeJong, Patrick Wisdom or others — suggest to you that there are any conscious changes of direction?
I took a look at where the top five position players were drafted in the 2013-2017 drafts. They lost their first two picks in 2017, so their first pick happened in round three.
Overall, I’d say they’ve been trending towards picking more position players, higher in the draft than in years past. Whether that’s a shift in philosophy under (Scouting Director) Randy Flores versus a product of the draft classes, it’s harder to say.
However, I’m not seeing much evidence that they are making an effort to draft guys who profile primarily as power hitters.
There has been a small handful of guys who profiled as above average power potential. DeJong was one of those guys and he’s off to a good start with the big club this season.
The two guys in the minor league system who have produced the best power results are Harrison Bader and Patrick Wisdom. Wisdom has hit 21 HR in AAA. Bader has hit 19, and has been rewarded with his recent callup to the major-league team.
Judging by how the hitters I’ve looked at profiled, I’d say they’ve been drafting similar to what they claimed they were going to focus on in the off-season. A lot of those guys profile as athletic, some have speed, and many of them are considered “plus” defenders.
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A few of them also are considered to have moderate power potential, but most seem to be line-drive or gap-type hitters, as opposed to home run hitters.
There were two or three guys who profiled as having true power potential, but none of them have produced in the minors so far, and most also had value as plus defenders or at least were considered athletic enough to have potential on defense.
So, overall, I’d say they seem to be drafting for guys who can hit and play defense, with any power they can contribute being a plus, rather than the main draw.
I think I mostly agree, though I don’t want to overstate the case since I don’t sit in the draft room or the strategy sessions. Sometimes, as you suggest, the ebbs and flows derive from where the team picks in the draft, and that has often been low due to organizational success.
But I do believe that the Cardinals need to be ready for a Brave New Future. If this Year of the Homer is any indication of the future, juiced ball or not, then they’re going to have to compete with the big boys on the power front.
Whether they like it or not, the middle of our lineup will have to strike as much fear as does the next team’s. Their promotions of DeJong and Bader, coupled with their hopes for Grichuk, it seems like they recognize the reality to at least some extent.
So while we can safely say that the results on any change in direction by the Cards to move toward more power in the system are to date inconclusive, sounds like we can agree that it has to be at least a significant component of the draft and development strategy going forward.
And with that, we’ll sign off. Thanks for your research and thoughts on this, Tina. This was fun!