St. Louis Cardinals: What could have been in the 2017 draft
Chris Correa hacked the Astros. Because of this decision, Major League Baseball took away the St. Louis Cardinals’ 1st- and 2nd-round picks in the 2017 MLB draft. Now that some of the dust of this season has settled, what did the Cardinals miss out on?
The St. Louis Cardinals essentially missed out on the MLB draft.
It used to be overlooked in the mainstream consciousness of baseball and underutilized within the Major League due to most teams wanting to build through free agency, trades, or the international market. It’s hard to exactly pinpoint when the draft became of its current, utmost importance but it definitely happened within the last 10-15 years.
Whatever happened, though, has made the MLB draft of extreme importance and building a team through the draft has become the best and most effective way to win. Last year’s World Series champions, the Chicago Cubs, did so and the 2017 Houston Astros are now one win away from a World Series after years of high-draft picks and rebuilding.
The St. Louis Cardinals have made a habit out of building through the draft for ages now and their process peaked most recently during the 2010s. Drafted players are littered all over the current, past, and future rosters of the St. Louis Cardinals and draft capital has turned into one of St. Louis’ most prized possessions.
That being said, the recent hacking scandal between the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros saw the former docked their 1st- and 2nd-round picks in the 2017 draft as punishment for the infraction. The Cardinals’ recent history of drafting so well made this punishment impactful and served as a way of taking away two of St. Louis’ most valuable assets in trying to re-build a winning team.
The St. Louis Cardinals weren’t able to select until the 94th-overall pick in the 2017 draft, taking college CF Scott Hurst out of Cal State Fullerton but missing out on a lot of talent at the top end of this past year’s draft class.
So, now that the dust has all but settled on this 2017 MLB season, we have a decent idea of what the St. Louis Cardinals missed out on by having their first two picks in this year’s draft rescinded as hacking scandal punishment.
The MLB draft is ordered sequentially from worst to best based upon overall win-loss records from the previous season. Thus, because of their 59-103 record in 2016, the Minnesota Twins ended up with the first overall pick in the 2017 draft. Then picked the Reds, Padres, Rays, Braves, so on and so forth.
The St. Louis Cardinals finished with a 2016 season record of 86-76, equal to the Seattle Mariners and a half game worse than the Detroit Tigers.
Major League Baseball determines draft position tie-breakers based upon the record from the season before the season before the current draft, so because St. Louis finished with 100 wins in 2015 – far more than Seattle’s 76 wins – the Cardinals would have lost a theoretical tie-breaker with the Mariners.
If St. Louis had not had their 1st- and 2nd-round picks taken away, they would have picked in between Seattle and Detroit, 18th overall in the 1st round and 57th overall in the 2nd round.
Let’s go ahead and (unfairly) assume that every other pick in the draft that would have originally happened still happens regardless of what the Cardinals (fictionally) do. So, with the 18th overall pick in the 2017 draft during our current theoretical game, here are four players who the St. Louis Cardinals could have selected.
Alex Faedo, RHP
The player who Detroit ended up selecting with the actual draft pick, Faedo still totally works in this scenario. The former University of Florida right-hander throws hard – duh – with a fastball touching the high 90s and also features a power slider as his premiere secondary offering.
After a spectacular sophomore season in which Faedo helped lead UF to the College World Series with a 3.18 ERA in 104.2 innings, he was being mentioned as a potential #1 overall pick. Offseason knee surgery derailed the hype train a little bit, but the big right-hander was still outstanding in his junior season nonetheless, posting a 2.26 ERA in 123.2 IP.
A 21-year-old college pitcher with a big arm and a quality track record. The Cardinals would have been wise to pounce.
Alex Lange, RHP
Alex Lange would have been a quintessential St. Louis Cardinals 1st-round pick. The former LSU right-hander is a polished college arm with a high floor and potential to be a fast-riser through the minor leagues.
Ironically, Lange ended up being selected by the Chicago Cubs with the 30th-overall pick, a compensatory pick that the Cubs gained because St. Louis signed Dexter Fowler. But, nonetheless, he would have been available for the Cardinals in this non-hacking scandal alternate universe.
The Lee’s Summit, Missouri native emerged as an ace for LSU and was the team’s workhorse during his three seasons in Baton Rouge, tossing 114, 112, and 125 innings while holding opponents to a 1.97, 3.79, and 2.97 ERA each respective season.
At 6’4” tall and 198 pounds, the sizable right-hander possesses a fastball ranging between 92 and 96 MPH which pairs with a 60-grade slider and a 50-grade changeup.
He’s an experienced, polished college ace with a ton of innings under his belt and a workhorse mentality that was being mentioned as a potential top 5 pick entering the 2017 season. The Cubs got a good one, I sure hope Dexter Fowler is worth it…
Jeren Kendall, OF
Maybe the most athletic outfielder in the college ranks last season, Jeren Kendall ended up being selected 23rd overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 draft and they appear to have snagged themselves a steal.
One of my favorite players, Kendall is a grade 70-75 runner with a 40+ stolen base potential at the Major League level. He was also the best defensive center fielder in the college game during his three years at Vanderbilt, using that freakish speed and an excellent ability to read fly balls to track down virtually anything hit in his area code; he also has a grade 55-60 throwing arm, depending on who’s grading.
Kendall ended up slipping in the draft from a possible top-5 pick into the 23rd-overall pick due to concerns over his ability to make consistent contact and get on base consistently. However, the overall comparison player that I’ve heard most often is Jacoby Ellsbury and the St. Louis Cardinals could certainly use a player like him in their minor league ranks.
Greg Deichmann, OF
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Maybe my favorite college bat last season, Deichmann fell into the 2nd round of this year’s draft due to him being 22 years old and a bat-first corner outfielder. At the top of the draft, teams are usually looking for tools-y players and college hitters can get punished if they aren’t this type of player.
Deichmann is a bat-first corner outfielder, but the bat is absolutely outstanding. The former LSU Tiger has a textbook left-handed swing with 60 grade power and 50-60 grade contact ability. In 266 AB during his junior season in Baton Rouge, Deichmann slashed .308/.417/.579 with 19 HR’s and 73 RBI’s while hitting one of the longest home runs I’ve ever seen at the college level.
After being drafted 43rd overall by the Oakland Athletics and assigned to the Class-A short season Vermont Lake Monsters, Deichmann continued his junior season tear by slashing .274/.385/.530 with 22 XBH and 30 RBI’s in 164 AB’s. That is tremendous production from a first time professional and Deichmann profiles extremely well for the future.
Losing those two draft picks indisputably hurt the St. Louis Cardinals, but because of the vague nature of the MLB draft and sometimes how long it takes for players to reach the Major League level, the extent to which they were hurt is unable to be quantified until quite some time after the draft.
We aren’t nearly at the point where we can fully understand just what the St. Louis Cardinals missed out on by not having their top two picks in the 2017 MLB draft, but taking a look at just these 4 players that could have been had is interesting.
Next: 6 Under-The-Radar Closer Candidates
Keep an eye on these 4 players and many others when rue-ing Chris Correa’s decision to hack the Astros, the Cardinals’ punishment could haunt them for years to come.