Welcome the New Cardinals

Here is a rundown of the Cardinals’ picks from the first day of the draft.  Info was pulled from all over and my opinion on each is in bold. 

1. Pete Kozma-SS-Owasso,  Oklahoma  High School-6’1, 170 pounds-bats: R throws: R;  named Oklahoma’s Player of the Year as he batted .522 this season with 11 home runs, 55 RBI, 14 stolen bases and 56 runs scored, boasting a .614 on-base percentage and a 1.106 slugging percentage. Kozma also hit the game-winning home run in the Class 6A state championship game to give Owasso its sixth title since 1998. Kozma batted .700 (14-for-20) during the 2007 postseason with four home runs and seven RBI.  In the state championship game Owasso won the game 1-0 with the only run coming on a Kozma HR. 

Here is Baseball America’s take: There may not be a true middle infielder drafted in the first round this year, but Kozma is as good a candidate as any. He impressed scouting directors when his team made a swing through Florida in late March, and he had a three-homer game in an Oklahoma 6-A playoff contest. Kozma has no true standout tool, but he also has no glaring weakness. He grades out as average to slightly above-average in every tool except power, and he does have pop. His instincts help him play above his physical ability at bat, on the bases and in the field. He has good plate coverage and uses the entire field, projecting as a future No. 2 hitter in a big league lineup. Coming into the spring, some scouts questioned whether he’d be a long-term shortstop, but he has no doubters now. A Wichita State recruit, Kozma draws raves for his consistency and energy as well.

From ESPN:  Best asset is his feel for the game; really knows how to play. Reminds of a young Michael Young. Has good baseball instincts. Makes contact and has good strike-zone awareness. Sees ball well. Has some pop out in front with bat. Good baserunner. Solid-average arm, especially when moving in. Showed good range to his left. Will be 8-10 homer type, alley-to-alley hitter. Could be a good No. 2 bat. Can steal a base, likes to run, makes things happen.”

This is what Baseball America had to say about him in its last Draft Tracker:  Kozma has taken a step ahead of the deep crop of toolsy high school middle infielders. As part of Owasso’s 23-game win streak to end the season and claim the Oklahoma state 6-A title, Kozma went 9-for-11 with one home run, five doubles, nine RBIs and eight runs in the regional bracket before dominating the state rounds. In the final four games of his career, he went 5-for-9 with four home runs, seven RBIs and four intentional walks.  I know there were more projectable players left on the board, but I think Kozma will turn out to be a solid prospect and a Major Leaguer. The Cardinals took a kid they were very familiar with and I am sure someone they felt they could sign quickly and get him to the instructional league before assigning him to a Minor League Club. I am still not ready to project him as an everyday player. 

1S. (36th overall) Clayton Mortensen-RHP- Gonzaga University-6’4, 180 pounds-  Here is what BA said before the draft:  Looking for a fast riser? How about Gonzaga’s Clayton Mortensen, who wasn’t on the radar entering the year. Mortensen, who has had a 16-strikeout game this spring, has allowed only one homer all spring in 82 innings, has racked up 84 strikeouts and has pushed his Bureau ranking up from slightly below average to above average. With a sinker that has sat in the 90-94 mph range, Mortensen¨the rare college senior with some projection.”  His scouting report reminds me of Ottavino, and notice he already throws a sinker.

2. (71st overall) David Kopp-RHP-Clemson University-6’3, 190 pounds-From Milb.com:  Kopp throws his fastball in the 89-93 mph range and can sit comfortably at 92 mph.  Kopp’s slider is average right now, but projects to be an above-average pitch.  Like the slide, the changeup is average now with the chance to be better in the future.  His command, especially of his fastball is below-average.  He’s got average makeup. He pitches backwards at times — which isn’t his fault — but he’s improved with that over time.  Kopp has a Steve Trachsel body type with some room to grow.Kopp doesn’t get much attention because of teammate Daniel Moskos, but he does have the possibility of three very good Major League offerings. His command and delivery have been a mess in the past, but he’s improved on the delivery and has shown the ability to get better over time. Moskos clearly will be the first Clemson pitcher selected, but teams would do well not to look past the second.  There was question about his delivery, but he looks really smooth in his scouting video.

2. (82nd overall)  Jess Todd-RHP-U. of Arkansas-5’11, 210 pounds-from Milb.com:  Has a fastball that sits anywhere from 89-94.  He throws an average slider and a below average change.  He has very good command with his fastball and changeup.  Needs to work on secondary pitches.  While Arkansas Friday starter Nick Schmidt gets more of the attention, Todd has done a nice job, first as a reliever and now as the Saturday starter. With a good fastball, an average slider and excellent command, he might best be suited to a bullpen role at the next level. If he can bring the changeup up to snuff, he could get a look as a starter.  He seems like a perfect canidate for pitch to contact philosophy.  Besides that, I really don’t understand this pick especially with some good players still on the board such as first round talent Matt Harvey and a solid prep hitter in Hunter Morris.

3.  (112 overall)  Daniel Descalso-3B-UC Davis-5’10-bats left, throws right- This season Descalso put up some of the best all-around numbers in the history of the program as his .397 batting average, 92 hits and 22 doubles rank second all-time. Descalso also led the team in almost every offensive category, which included 44 RBIs, 132 total bases, 35 walks, a .474 on-base percentage and a .569 slugging percentage. For his efforts, Descalso was named to the All-Independent First Team.  Had a 2:1 BB to K ratio with 35 BBs to 17 Ks on the year.  Has gap power, but I don’t see him projecting as a MLB 3rd baseman.

4.  (142 overall)  Kyle Russell-OF-U. of Texas-6’5, 190 pounds-bats left, throws left-Kyle Russell was the Big 12 Player of the Year and named a finalist for the USA Golden Spikes Award.  Finished with a line of .336 with 28 HRs and 71 RBIs.  He did strikeout 64 times in 223 at bats.  Russell is a below-average hitter who struggles to make contact consistently.  Has plus power from the left side.  He has a plus arm and average range so he projects in right field with a Shawn Green type body.  Russell set a record for K’s in the Cape Cod League last year and has swung and missed with regularity this season as well. Russell certainly made a splash this season by obliterating the school record for home runs in a season. The power is legit, but there is concern about his ability to make contact consistently enough for the power to come into play at the next level. The power with the arm strength, though, does fit the right field profile in the future. A draft-eligible sophomore, he does hold some leverage in terms of returning for his junior season at Texas.  I don’t really understand the strategy here.  They passed on players earlier in the draft so they didn’t have to go over slot money, but to keep Russell, the Cardinals will definitely pay over slot money.  I love his power, but his Ks worry me.  He would look good next to Colby patrolling the outfield of Busch for years to come.

5.  (172 overall)  Thomas Eager-RHP-Cal Poly-6’2, 200 pounds-compiled an 11-3 record and 3.43 ERA, moving up to No. 2 all-time at Cal Poly for wins in a single season. He was a first-team All-Big West Conference selection.  Scout.com had this to say before a series against Cal State Fullerton:  has the best arm on the pitching staff and has easily been the best SP for Cal Poly this season. Eager started out the season very well but since conf play started, he has been inconsistent. Over the last seven weeks, he has combined to shut out Irvine and Fresno State in two of his starts but in his other five starts has allowed 31 R’s (25 ER’s) in 35 IP for a 6.43 ERA. In two of those starts, against Riverside and Long Beach, Eager pitched well for the first five innings before the wheels fell off. Eager sometimes struggles with his control (17 HBP’s in addition to 40 BB’s in 111 IP).  Baserunners were successful against him more times than not, stealing 17 bases in 27 attempts.  Could be a decent back of the rotation/middle relief pitcher.  Needs lots of help with command.

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