3 players the Cardinals should target with the 7th pick in the 2024 MLB Draft

The Cardinals are poised to select a special player with the 7th overall pick in the 2024 MLB Draft.
West Virginia v Pittsburgh
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3. LHP Hagen Smith, Arkansas

Arkansas LHP Hagen Smith
Arkansas starting pitcher Hagen Smith pitches against LSU during the SEC Tournament elimination game Thursday, May 25, 2023, at the Hoover Met. / Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA

Hagen Smith was utterly dominant this year, posting a 2.04 ERA in 84 innings pitched for the University of Arkansas. Smith generated swings-and-misses at an exceptional rate and struck out a total of 161 batters on the season. Opponents batted just .144 against him in 2024.

Four-seam Fastball: Hagen Smith's primary pitch is a 95.5 mph fastball with 16.4 inches of IVB and 13 inches of arm-side run from a 5.6' vertical release height. Smith added close to 3 mph on his fastball from 2023 and got up to 100.3 mph. The pitch's movement profile in a vacuum is mediocre at best but plays up due to his low release and above-average velocity. Smith generated a 41.8% whiff rate on his four-seam fastball, ranking 2nd best in Division 1 College Baseball in 2024 (min. 500 pitches).

Slider: Smith's best offering is his 84 mph slider. The pitch has solid depth with -1.3 inches of IVB and sweep with 5 inches of glove-side movement. Smith also has a great feel for spinning the pitch. Much like his fastball, the pitch plays up due to his release. Smith stands on the first base side of the rubber, and with his lateral release, the HAA on the pitch is elite. He also commands the offering well, locating it away from lefties and inside to righties to optimize the HAA. Smith registered a hellacious 56.4% whiff rate on his slider this season.

Changeup: Smith's third pitch is an 88.3 mph split-change, which averages similar arm-side movement to his fastball with 8 fewer inches of ride. Smith lacks feel for the pitch at the moment, but I expect it to be a viable offering against righties once he gets more comfortable using it.

Smith is without question a top 2 pitching prospect in this year's draft class. He's a tier down from Chase Burns, but the Cardinals should still consider him if he's available at pick 7. There is some reliever risk with Smith due to his cross-fire delivery and lack of feel for a 3rd offering, but it's hard to argue with the body of work he produced for Arkansas this year.