2010 Draft Preview Going to Eleven: Persons of Interest Three

Just cheering myself up.

I'm not going to talk about the game last night. It was far too frustrating, and I seriously doubt my ability to be even somewhat rational about it. So I just won't even try. 

I also won't talk about how frustrating it was to see, after believing my team smart enough to have finally kicked him to the curb, Aaron Miles back in a Cardinal uniform. I won't talk about how much it pissed me off to see the ovation, either. Nope. Just not going to talk about anything that happened last night. 

The draft is less than a week away, mock drafts are all over the place, and I've covered about as many players as I'm going to cover this year. Of course, it doesn't matter; I'm sure the Cards will find some way to draft a player I haven't written about. Two years ago I wrote a post about players who were essentially just bats, and I covered Justin Smoak, Yonder Alonso, and Eric Hosmer. There was one other player under consideration for the post; a kid out of Arizona State named Brett Wallace. In the end, I decided to go with the other three, and of course Wallace ended up the Cards' pick. Last year I covered a ton of pitchers, of virtually all shapes, sizes, and demographic, but skipped over Shelby Miller because I didn't feel there was any chance he would fall to the Cardinals. There's no way he'll still be sitting there at 19, my thinking went, so it's okay I missed him. Shelby is now the Cards' top prospect. 

So who will it be this year? I have no idea. I scan the lists of players I've covered, and I'm sure the Cardinals should at least be able to find someone amongst all my draft reports they like. And yet somehow I'm utterly convinced they'll draft someone I didn't see coming. 

Anyway, I've got one more batch of random players I find interesting for one reason or another. These aren't first-round guys, they're just players whose names I'll be watching for as teams start calling out their futures on draft day. 

Ross Wilson, 2B, University of Alabama

The brother of former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson, Ross Wilson is a very athletic middle infielder with plus speed and actions in the field. He had an outstanding freshman season at Alabama, and then played even better as a sophomore, posting a 1.023 OPS while playing plus defense, and looked as if he would be a premium draft pick in 2010. He showed averagish power and an ability to get on base at a high rate to go along with solid glovework. 

Unfortunately for Wilson, he hasn't performed at all up to those standards this season, as his OPS has fallen over 250 points. He still receives high marks for his speed and athleticism, though, and while his plate approach has taken a step back this year, it hasn't fallen completely apart. In spite of his middling numbers, Wilson still brings a lot of very good physical tools to the party, and could make an excellent pickup for a team willing to work with him to try and rediscover the potential he showed his first two seasons in college. I really like Wilson a lot, and would love to see the Cards take a flyer on him somewhere in the middle rounds. 

Josh Spence, LHP, Arizona State

Spence is a college senior, which could make him an attractive pick somewhere along the line if a team is trying to save a little, for instance if a team had a couple extra early picks. (hint, hint) He hasn't pitched at all this season because of a nerve problem in his elbow, but was drafted in the third round by the Angels last year. 

Spence has very little in the way of stuff, but he's consistently put up excellent numbers throughout his college career. (He was a juco transfer player.) He works his offspeed pitches well, and changes his arm angle around a little here and there to make it tough on hitters. In other words, he's every bit the classic crafty lefthander, and somehow those guys seem to always find a job. 

Spence's ceiling isn't much to talk about, but he lacks leverage in the draft and probably could move quickly through a minor league system if he's healthy. A team taking him will be looking for affordability and depth; in other words, he's not really my type of draft pick. Still, if he comes in to pro ball and can even turn himself into a LOOGY at the major league level, that's a savings right there as you don't have to pick a guy up off the free agent market. 

I read somewhere Spence could also take a medical redshirt and play another season, but I don't know enough about the rules of college athletics to know whether that's feasible or not. Maybe one of you is more acquainted with the NCAA procedures and could help me out. 

Mark Canha, 1B, UC Berkeley

We've seen in the past the Cardinals like to draft defensively limited players with big bats in the middle rounds (think Mark Hamilton), and Canha falls squarely into that category. He's a big, strong thumper from the right side of the plate who controls the plate well and punishes mistakes. Canha had a huge sophomore campaign, with a 1.084 OPS in 53 games. His numbers this year aren't as good; his OBP has barely changed (.450 to .446), but his slugging percentage has fallen over 100 points. It's possible it's just a case of him not getting as much to hit, but I don't know one way or the other, as I don't have any game video of him. 

Actually, I should probably compare Canha to Allen Craig instead of Mark Hamilton, as Canha did start part of this year in right field, and there's some thought he could play an outfield corner at the next level. He has average speed, and a strong throwing arm that would fit nicely in right. Regardless of what position a team might envision him playing, you're drafting Canha for his bat, and that bat is legit. He's got big-time power, though he's probably just an average pure hitter. If recent history is any indicator, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see the Cards at least take a good long look at Canha in the ~4th round or so. 

Mitchell Shifflett, OF, Cosby High School (Virginia)

Mitchell Shifflett is fast. No, wait. Let me restate that. Mitchell Shifflett is fast. There. Now the word fast looks sort of fast. (I wish I could add little contrails to it, but I don't seem to have a font like that on my computer.) And really, even fast looking fast may not be enough to describe how fast Mitchell Shifflett is. 

Mitchell Shifflett has been clocked running a 6.11 in the 60 yard dash. That's really, really fast. He gets from the right side of the plate down to first base in just about four seconds, which is still fast, but not quite as off-the-charts fast as his raw speed times. I'm not sure if that's something he could improve upon or not. 

Beyond being fast, Shifflett has plenty of potential in other areas, as well. He's an outstanding defender, thanks in large part to his ability to simply run the ball down, and has a decent throwing arm. It isn't the strongest, but he's fairly accurate and does a good job of throwing where he needs to, not always a given for a high school player. 

At the plate, he shows good contact ability and decent plate discipline, especially for a player coming out of high school. He doesn't show much in the way of power, but he has plenty of room to grow and it's possible he could develop some down the road. Even if he doesn't, he could very well end up a useful hitter in that Brett Butler/ Juan Pierre mold; a speedster at the top of the lineup who can get on base and use his legs to get creative. Add that to his ability to go get the ball in the outfield, and he could be a very solid player for someone down the road. Obviously, he has too many holes in his game to go high in the draft, but as a bit of a project guy, Shifflett offers pretty remarkable athleticism. 

Plus, he's fast. 

Shoot. I've got to go, guys. Something came up. I had a couple more players I wanted to cover, but it doesn't look like I'm going to get to them. Sorry to cut this off so suddenly, but I've got to do it. 

The Baron's Playlist for the 2nd of June, 2010 

"Come See About Me" - The Afghan Whigs

"They All Laughed" - The Spinto Band

"Already Died" - Eagles of Death Metal

"Light of the Morning" - Band of Skulls

"Radio Orlando" - Harlem Shakes

"Blood on Our Hands" - Death From Above 1979

"Everlasting Arm" - Mercury Rev

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