St. Louis Cardinals: Three potential players for the 21st overall pick

According to three mock draft sites, the St. Louis Cardinals will either draft a right-handed pitcher or an outfielder during the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft on June 10th.

While we wait to see if there will be a St. Louis Cardinals baseball season in 2020, MLB will have a five-round draft starting on June 10th and ending by June 11th. The draft usually is a 40 round affair, but with the shorten year, there will be only 160 total picks.

The Cardinals and the Giants will have the most picks in this year’s abbreviated draft with seven. For the Cardinals, the extra picks come from a Competitive Balance Round B pick and a compensation pick due to the Braves signing Marcell Ozuna.

Because of the COVID-19 virus, all high school and college seasons were trimmed. So there will be less data on players for teams to consider. Nevertheless, the MLB has decided the draft will go forward and the speculation on who teams will draft has been ongoing.

There are several mock draft sites to follow if you want to try to figure out a clearer picture of who the Cardinals will take in this year’s draft. The early rounds, especially the first round, get the most attention from the media and fans.

This year, the Cardinals will have the 21st pick in the draft. Consequently, I will look at the first pick predicted by MLB Pipeline, CBS Sports, and Baseball Prospect Journal for the Cardinals. There are three different players predicted by these sites, two pitchers and an outfielder.

MLB Pipeline: Cade Cavalli RHP, Oklahoma

MLB Pipeline’s take on the 21-year-old is ‘there isn’t much track record with Cavalli, but he has a lot of upside to go with his 6 foot 4 frame and easy velocity.” According to Pipeline, easy velocity means that ‘Cavalli’s fastball comes in at 92-96 mph, but can top out at 98 mph with riding action, without having to expend more effort than playing catch.’ He also has a low-80s curveball with power and depth, and he has developed a high 80s slider/cutter that is catching up to his curve.

The downside to Cavalli, according to Pipeline, is his signability, health, and control. The 226 lb junior turned down the Braves as a 29th round draft choice in 2017 to attend Oklahoma. He missed most of his senior season in high school due to back issues and missed three weeks during the 2019 season with a stress reaction in his arm.

But it’s his control and ability to throw strikes that may keep the Cardinals from drafting him, especially in the first round. His lack of command means his best stuff often gets hit harder than it should.

Additionally, Cavalli hasn’t been a pitcher for all that long, therefore his track record isn’t as long as you would want for a first-round pick. He spent most of his freshman year at first base for the Sooners and didn’t focus on pitching until his sophomore year. Finally, he missed most of his junior year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CBS Sports: Carmen Mlodzinski RHP, South Carolina

CBS Sports.com doesn’t seem to have enough good things to say about the 21-year old Mlodzinski. They feel that if his red-shirt sophomore season hadn’t been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he would be a top 10 pick. If he is still available at the 21st pick, CBS Sports thinks the Cardinals will ‘scoop him up.’

And why not? The 6’2″, 232lb Gamecock came to his own during the 2019 Cape Cod Summer League by throwing for a 1.83 ERA with 42 strikeouts and only five walks in 34 innings (despite one start where he was rocked and the game was rained out).

His fastball was hitting between 91-95 mph that summer and he was able to hit 99 mph during fall practice, with some sink and run. Mlodzinski also has developed a low-80s slider with power and depth and is working on a sinking changeup.

After missing most of his sophomore year at South Carolina due to an injury, his summer at the Cape Cod League gave him time to not only work on improving the speed of his pitches, but better control and command of his pitches. Mlodzinski may be one of the late first-round sleeper picks of this year’s draft.

Baseball Prospect Journal: Dylan Crews OF, Lake Mary (Fla.) HS

Baseball Prospect Journal considers the 18-year-old Crews one of the best hitters in the draft class. In their case for Crews, BPJ says ‘the 6-0 175-pound right-handed hitter shows the ability to hit for average and power.’

It seems when Crews is at this best, he does hit for average and power. He has good bat speed and centers the ball well. Additionally, he makes good contact and shows plenty of strength, even with his lean physique. But as the BPJ notes, he does struggle with consistency and struggles at times with swing and miss.

He plays a good center field and has an above-average arm. However, many scouts have projected him to land at a corner outfield spot since he is not considered to have center field type of speed.

Because of his well-rounded talent as rated by MLB.com (hit-50, run-50, field-50, power-50, arm-55, overall-50), some may consider him a five-tool prospect. But due to his short senior season, this may be premature. Nevertheless, BPJ considers him a first-round pick and has slotted him with the Cardinals.

To sum up

Mock drafts are not an exact science. Who will be the first-round pick for the Cardinals in 2020? As I try to point out, that really depends on the site your following.

MLB Pipeline puts Miodzinski as the 21st best prospect in the draft but picks him to get drafted a 25 with the Braves. They also put Crews down to 68 and don’t project him as a first-rounder. Meanwhile, Baseball Prospects Journal picks Cavalli at 12, going to the Giants. CBS Sports doesn’t have Cavalli or Crews going in the first round.

An organization can never have too much pitching depth, so drafting a pitcher in the first would not be unexpected or even unwise. As far as drafting an outfielder in the first round, the Cardinals are an organization that already has good outfield depth. However, if he is the available hitter in the draft at that pick, then why not?

With that being said, if I had to pick between Cade Cavalli, Carmen Mlodzinski, and Dylan Crews, I would pick Mlodzinski. He is, in my opinion, the most fully developed and ready prospect for the major leagues.

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In the end, it will probably none of the three. Unless you’re in the top five picks, it’s hard to predict where players will fall in the draft. Who will the Cardinals pick in the first round on June 10th? We will just have to wait and find out.