The St. Louis Cardinals were smart with their Draft approach

ST LOUIS, MO - JUNE 04: The sunsets over Busch Stadium during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds on June 4, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) ***Local Caption ***
ST LOUIS, MO - JUNE 04: The sunsets over Busch Stadium during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds on June 4, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) ***Local Caption *** /

The St. Louis Cardinals had a very different draft then they have had in recent memory, but for what they need, it was very smart.

Last year, the St. Louis Cardinals drafted a young high schooler in the first round of the MLB Draft that went on to be one of the most exciting picks from last year in the entire draft. Nolan Gorman was and is a special talent and scouting director Randy Flores has looked good in his first few drafts running the ship.

This year seemingly wasn’t any different by my estimations.

The Cardinals first seven rounds included the following picks:

Round 1: Zack Thompson, LHP, Kentucky

Round 2: Trejyn Fletcher, CF, Deering HS (ME)

Round 3: Tony Locey, RHP, Georgia

Round 4: Andre Pallante, RHP, UC Irvine

Round 5: Connor Thomas, LHP, Georgia Tech

Round 6: Pedro Pages, C, Florida Atlantic

Round 7: Jack Ralston, RHP, UCLA

Notice a trend there?

If you haven’t noticed, the Cardinals have had a lot of pitchers reach the upper levels of the minor leagues and there is a gap in the lower levels where the Cardinals need to replenish their pitching talent and depth.

They made this effort abundantly clear with their strategy of taking five late college pitchers out of their first seven picks. I stopped at the 7th round because the farther you go in the draft the less likely it is that the picks will see the Majors.

To explain why this draft approach was smart, let us first look at the top two draft choices.

Zack Thompson may never be Blake Snell or James Paxton, but he has the potential to be a middle of the rotation arm that carves out a solid career. Much like the Cardinals have done in the past, they went with a high floor college pitcher that should rise through the system quickly.

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The concern with Thompson is his injury history, but if you want to learn more about the first round pick, Josh Magee wrote here about the team’s first rounder.

Thompson is a “boring” pick, but one that the Cardinals have proven to be good at developing and squeezing all the potential out of. Given that Thompson is a senior, they won’t need to sign him for any more than slot value.

The next pick the Cardinals made was the biggest potential payoff of the draft. Trejyn Fletcher is a very raw talent, but with this talent comes a lot of risks. Mr. Magee again has the write up here but basically, Fletcher is a pure athlete with a lot of speed and power. While Fletcher has question marks around his contact tool, the fact that he reclassified to this year’s draft made the talented outfielder available.

Perfect Game had ranked Fletcher as the number one prospect for 2020… He’s the real deal but is going to take a lot of shaping as he rises through the system.

If you can ignore the fact that he is a high schooler from Maine where they only play 16 games a season (*Nick Plummer PTSD kicks in*), Fletcher has a commitment to play at Vanderbilt next year. The Cardinals are gonna have to buy him out.

That is why the Cardinals drafting a lot of fourth-year seniors/juniors who are also pitchers was so smart while going for a high-risk high-reward player like Fletcher in the second round. Because the majority of their picks don’t really have much of an option to go back to school, nor would they want to.

This allows the Cardinals to sign these college pitchers for cheap and redirect that extra money towards convincing Fletcher to abandon his Vanderbilt commitment while at the same time replenishing pitching depth in the Minors.

It’s not necessarily an exciting draft, but it was an important one that can pay huge dividends down the road for ensuring the Cardinals have a constant stream of MLB ready pitching talent coming from the Minors while adding a player who has star potential.

Next. St. Louis Cardinals pick up a college lefty in the first round. dark

I didn’t realize it at first when I was watching the draft but when I did the research, I have to really applaud Randy Flores on his 2019 draft. He is helping ensure the long-term health of the team while still getting some excitement. The MLB Draft is a volatile thing and down the road, this draft may be looked at unfavorably, but at surface level, well done to the drafting team.