St. Louis Cardinals Draft Profile: Second Baseman Justin Foscue
The St. Louis Cardinals would do well to look at second baseman Justin Foscue in the draft.
While the St. Louis Cardinals have done very well in recent years drafting and developing pitching, the team’s crop of early-drafted position players hasn’t panned out as well. In fact, the last position player the Cardinals drafted in the first round who made the majors with the team was 2012 draft pick Stephen Piscotty.
Although the Cardinals have a less-than-stellar recent history in picking position players early, the team should seriously consider Mississippi State University second baseman Justin Foscue.
Foscue’s top tool is his bat. He has more power than your typical middle infielder. While he only hit .241 in his freshman season at Mississippi State, he fixed a mechanical flaw to flatten his swing path and hit .331 with 14 home runs in his sophomore season in 2019. He was on the way to another strong season at the plate before the college season ended early in 2020. Foscue also doesn’t strike out much; even as he found more power, he only whiffed at roughly a 10% rate in 2019.
However, Foscue’s high leg kick brings some concerns with it: He tends to pull the ball more often than one would like to see, and pitchers at higher levels can exploit his aggressive habits. He also won’t grab headlines with his glove, and his range and arm are average, although the instincts are there, and he has received praise for his double-play pivots. In addition, he records below-average speed out of the box.
So why is my eye on Foscue over some other players? First of all, the Cardinals don’t have any second basemen in their farm system who will wow anyone. Their top performer is probably Max Schrock, who is a fringe prospect at best.
Foscue also fits the bill of what seems to work best for the Cardinals in the draft: college players with high floors. It would make sense to go back to that well considering that the first players the Cardinals took in 2015 and 2016 were prep position players who flamed out: Nick Plummer and Delvin Perez. Foscue also embodies the fabled “Cardinal Way,” with scouts complimenting his strong work ethic and tireless practice.
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One concern is that, while Foscue is ranked No. 32 on MLB.com’s top 200 draft prospects list, the coronavirus-shortened amateur seasons have given scouts fewer opportunities to look at players. Therefore, taking high school players is a bigger risk than usual, which will lead to college players being in high demand, potentially leading to a team taking Foscue before the Cardinals can get him.
Another potential issue is the Cardinals’ current second baseman, who serves as an obstacle for Foscue were the team to take him. Kolten Wong is a Gold Glove recipient and a solid hitter. He is also 29 years old and likely in the prime of his career. With college players usually ascending the minor league ladder faster than their high school counterparts, it wouldn’t be hard to see Foscue knocking on the big league door by 2023.
It’s hard to say what or where Wong will be at this point, and while Foscue can play third base, Nolan Gorman will be manning the hot corner by then if everything goes according to plan. This leaves Foscue in a sticky spot if Wong is still playing at a high level. Foscue might have the required power to play first base, a position that will likely be more of a question for the Cardinals at that time.
Wong’s presence shouldn’t deter the Cardinals from taking Foscue, though. If Foscue is available when the Cardinals’ pick comes around, the Cardinals should pounce on him. It’s very likely that he would fit the team better than any other player available in the late first round, and with a solid skillset, the Cardinals will find a place for him.
The looming implementation of the National League designated hitter by next season would also help Foscue’s prospects of fitting into the Cardinals’ lineup. But the bottom line is he can flat-out hit, and his profile makes him a natural choice for the Cardinals.