2011 Draft Preview #9: Persons of Interest

You know how sometimes a team loses a game you feel like they should have won? And other times the team will win a game it feels like they should have lost? Well, thanks to last night's affair, I feel like I've discovered what it's like to feel both of those things at the same time.

I feel like the Cardinals really should have won, seeing as how they outhit the Padres (and sweet Jesus is that not the worse offense you've ever seen in your life?), by the count of 12 to 2 and the Cards' starting pitcher didn't walk a single batter. On the other hand, I feel like there's no way the Cardinals should have won that game after the shortstop made yet another costly error, the team stranded enough runners to win a week's worth of games, and Miguel Batista somehow allowed two incredibly hard-hit balls, then walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the tenth inning for an encore.

So I guess in the end I feel like the Cardinals should have either crushed the Padres or lost a frustrating nail-biter. Winning a close game simply doesn't seem like it should have been one of the choices.

Congratulations to Tony Cruz on a stunning major league debut.

Note to Jason Motte: not only are you a better pitcher when you're off the meds, it actually seems to be a direct correlation. The crazier Motte is, the better he gets. He actually threw several pitches last night that were clearly cutters, rather than just fastballs lacking about five miles an hour one them. I think we may finally know what Jason Motte looks like in bankai mode, and it's kind of nice. Hopefully he never finds a glove that doesn't piss him off.

A collection of thumbnail scouting reports after the break.

There aren't necessarily first rounders, by any means. Rather, these are just a few random players I find interesting (and believe the Cardinals might as well), for one reason or another.

 Zach Cone, OF, University of Georgia 

 One of the more enigmatic prospects in this year's draft, Cone has been on the radar for years. He was selected in the third round of the '08 draft by the Angels, but chose to go to college rather than sign. Cone is blessed with enormous physical talent, a true five-tooler, but has never managed to harness those tools into anything but brief flashes. His plate discipline is atrocious, and he seems to just blindly hack away at whatever is thrown his way. When he hits the ball he can do some serious damage, and he has the speed to be a threat on the basepaths as well. Think of him as essentially an outfield version of another raw college player from Georgia (Tech, that is), the Cardinals drafted a few years back: Tyler Greene. Like Greene, Cone has superstar tools but not much in the way of usable skills.

Cone will likely go somewhere in the round 2-4 range, depending on how strongly some organisation feels about their ability to polish him up. The Cards have gone somewhat risky in the early rounds of the past few drafts, and it wouldn't surprise me to see a guy like Cone drafted as a potential-laden lottery ticket.


Dominic Jose, OF, Boca Raton HS (Florida)

Another multifaceted talent in the outfield, Jose is a switch-hitter with plus speed and raw power that hasn't yet translated into game use as of yet. He's a tall speedster who is physically similar to the Phillies Domonic Brown, and has plus range and a strong arm in the outfield.

Jose has a strong commitment to Stanford, and that could factor in on draft day. (Come to think of it, it seems the Cardinal owe the Cardinals an outfielder, don't they? Hmm...) Personally, I'm hoping the Cards draft him just because of his bloodlines. He just happens to be the son of my very favourite baseball player of both 1991 and 1992: the immortal Felix Jose.

Also, according to the movie trailer someone in his family made, Dominic is sort of a big deal. (This is at least mildly hilarious.)


Kyle Winkler, RHP, TCU

Winkler hasn't gotten a whole lot of press, mostly because he was stuck behind Matt Purke on the TCU pitching staff, but that doesn't mean he isn't an excellent prospect in his own right. Winkler has top-notch stuff, working with a fastball in the 92-95 range and one of the better sinkers in the draft, an upper-80s offering hitters have a tough time doing anything with. He's also developed a plus curveball that generates plenty of empty swings.

Winkler isn't big, going about 5'11" and 190 lbs or so, and that's really the only major question mark on him. Nonetheless, he's got big-league stuff and plus makeup, so some team able to look past his lack of height will be sure to pounce on him in the early rounds.


Paul Hoilman, 1B, East Tennessee State

We all know this is a weak draft for college bats, perhaps historically so. Just don't anyone tell Hoilman; it'll only disappoint him. A college senior, Hoilman absolutely destroyed the baseball last year, posting a 1.386 OPS and finishing high up on the D1 leaderboards in virtually every offensive category.

Despite the gaudy numbers, Hoilman wasn't drafted until the 49th round by the Rays last year and chose to return to school. There are a few reasons he lasted so long; he's a mountain of muscle, but there are some concerns his overall conditioning could use work. The quality of competition he faced is a question mark, and he's a pre-med major. (And apparently very serious about his schooling.) While the intelligence is certainly a plus, if the guy is dedicated to a medical career he might not be a great draft pick. Still, you would have to think anyone with his abilities would jump at the chance to play pro ball.

Hoilman profiles a little like Matt Adams, the slugging first base prospect the Cardinals currently have stashed at Springfield, though Hoilman's athleticism is a step or two above Adams'.

Below is a video of Hoilman winning a college home run derby. Interesting side note: the commentators discuss how Hoilman apparently showed up at the stadium wearing a Cardinal hat and looked eerily like late-90s Mark McGwire.


Trent Howard, LHP, Central Michigan

Howard is a fairly small guy who plays for a small school. In other words, he's a late-round pick. Being lefthanded, though, there are some job avenues open to Howard, and he would certainly be worth taking a look at. He has an excellent curveball that he just eats lefties up with, and a fastball in the mid- to upper-80s. He's probably a LOOGY long-term, but hey, you've gotta get those guys somewhere, right?

Aaron Westlake, OF/1B, Vanderbilt

I really like Westlake. He's got a long, lanky build that still has room to fill out and a pretty left-handed swing that produces results. He has a leg kick in his swing that some might worry about, and he isn't always perfect with his timing, but the kick doesn't bother me at all.

Westlake has an intelligent approach at the plate and shows plus on-base skills to go along with power that's average now but may creep up higher as he gets bigger and stronger. He also has a history of hitting well with wood bats in the Cape Cod League, always a plus for the Cards. His other tools are just average, though he does have enough arm to play in right field, and he's played all over the diamond. Still, it's his bat that will carry him up the ladder, and I'm a believer in that bat.

Day game today, so I'll end this now to get it up early.

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