2012 Draft Preview Four: You Could be Swinging On a Star

Sort of a nice picture, don't you think?

I'm feeling down this morning, friends. I know that's not exactly a rare situation for me -- see my previous published works for details -- but this is an unusual type of down. I had a spat with someone I care about deeply, and now we're stuck in this weird, walking-on-eggshells small talk nightmare. Unfortunately, a way out, or perhaps a way in, seems to be eluding both of us at the moment. It's like having a fishbone stuck in your throat all day every day; you keep coughing and coughing but it won't come loose. It doesn't hurt, exactly, but there's something just wrong all the same. And until you can get it gone you just aren't going to be able to relax. It's...really at least slightly awful.

So that's how I am this morning. Miserable and frustrated. How are you? I hope you're having a nice morning. Spring is very nearly here, so that should cheer everyone up. Spring training is up and running, which is even better than the season itself.

I've got another batch of three scouting reports for your edification this morning, and today we're focusing on hitters with true star potential. It's something the Cards have a very limited supply of at the moment, and I expect with their bumper crop of draft picks this year we'll see them try to bring in a couple of upside guys. So, without further ado or author megrims, onward to this week's edition of the draft preview.

Stryker Trahan, C, Acadiana High School (Louisiana)

6'1", 215 lbs

Bats: Left

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

Trahan is a name we've heard bandied about quite often in connection with the Cardinals this spring, and with good reason. He's exactly the kind of high ceiling hitter the system needs, and he plays a position which is both a general premium and, until the past 36 hours or so, a position of serious need for the Cards. Of course, the extension of Yadier Molina changes the last little bit of that equation somewhat, but I'm not sure it should really affect whether or not the Redbirds would consider drafting Trahan come June.

You can call him Bryce Harper Lite, if you like, and no one is really going to argue with you. While Trahan doesn't have the overwhelming, legendary talent Harper possesses, his physical tools are fairly similar. The pure bat speed is what jumps out first, as he is capable of hitting light-tower shots in batting practice. He runs unusually well for a catcher, though there's no way of telling how long that speed will survive the beating of the position, and he's remarkably nimble behind the plate. The skills are still as-yet unrefined, but the arm strength, foot speed, and coordination all point toward a player who could become a plus defensive catcher.

Really, there aren't any weak points in Trahan's game, physically. He'll need time to develop, of course, but that's purely a function of age. This is a player whose over base of tools points toward not just a major league career but an all-star level major league career. (By the way, let me tell you how pissed I am at myself for using all-star as a descriptive term. I hate it when people do that, but let's face it; it's the simplest shorthand we have for a semi-elite or better player.) He's shown enough talent with the bat, combined with his position, to make him an absolute elite prospect. Our own Pain Guy, Chris O' Leary, took a look at Stryker's Swing (yes, it should be capitalised), and likes what he sees. I have to concur.

But then, the biggest question might just be that position. After all, it we're going with Bryce Harper Lite, then we have to at least consider the same thing might happen to Trahan as happened to Harper. If the bat is really as good as it appears to be, would it make more sense to move him to a position further down the defensive spectrum, both to speed his climb to the majors and protect him from the pounding of the Tools of Ignorance? The tradeoff, of course, is that his bat suddenly becomes a much less rare commodity if he's playing, say, a corner outfield spot.

Personally, I think the Cardinals might be in the ideal position to develop Trahan. They have their franchise backstop locked up for the next five seasons, meaning there will be no rush to push a talented prospect up the ladder too quickly. The depth of the system, the solidity of the major league team, and the stability at catcher would also mean Trahan would have plenty of time to develop at the position which maximizes his value, rather than moving to try and rush his bat up the ladder to help a big league squad in need of help. In five years, when Yadier Molina's new contract is finally drawing to a close, Stryker Trahan will be 23. Looking that far ahead is tough to do, of course, but I think now might be a good time to begin looking toward life after Yadi. The Cards found themselves in a bit of a bind this year, thinking Molina might leave, largely due to the lack of in-house replacement candidates. By the time Yadier reaches the end of this contract and is squatting on 34 year old Molina Legs, I think it would behoove the organisation to have a solid accession plan in place. Stryker Trahan may or may not be the player for that plan, but he's certainly an intriguing candidate.

Braden Bishop, OF, St. Francis High School (California)

6'1", 180 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

Braden Bishop is one of the most athletic players in the draft this year, a two-sport athlete committed to the University of Washington for baseball but who is also hoping to play wide receiver for the football program as well. In fact, a strong college commitment may be the biggest factor pushing Bishop down draft boards, though his dual-sport status also means his signing bonus can be spread out over a period of time, rather than being paid all in one lump sum.

Actually, let me rephrase that: that used to be the case, that dual-sport guys could have their signing bonuses spread out. I don't honestly know if that the case in the new CBA that made so many changes to the draft process. If someone knows differently, please enlighten me. I'll check myself, but don't really have the time at this exact moment.

Coming out of high school, Bishop's build and frame remind me a lot of J.D. Drew's at the same age. Bishop has similar athleticism to the Cards' former right fielder, as well. He's been clocked as high as 92 throwing from the outfield, he has plus speed, and there's plenty of power potential in a frame heavy on quick-twitch musculature. I like his swing as well; he hits from an upright stance with a very short stride, and I like the simplicity. His hands work well, giving him solid batspeed.

There is substantial rawness to Bishop's game, the result of splitting his attention between two sports to this point. He's a project, but the payoff could be huge to a team willing to take the risk and pony up to get him into their system. Long-term he has all the tools to be a plus defender in center field, with the arm to slide over to right if need be, and while the bat is a question the talent is certainly there. The Cards went heavy on athletic outfielders last year in the draft, and I would love to see them continue that trend in at least some small way by spending one of their supplemental or second-round picks on a player just like Bishop. And Bishop is a player like Bishop. It's a perfect fit!

Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe High School (Louisiana)

6'1", 180 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

The track record for shortstops taken out of high school in the first round of the draft is decidedly mixed. That being said, if you're going to take the chance, Cecchini is exactly the kind of guy you want to take it on. He has the raw athleticism to stay at the position long-term, and has shown the kind of maturity and intelligence on the field that should help to keep him on track.

Cecchini has everything you could ask for out of a shortstop prospect. He has a plus arm, clocked in the 88-90 range, which gives him the ability to make all the throws no matter how far he has to range. It's a good thing, too, because he has plus range at least and footspeed to burn. He's wiry and explosively athletic, both in the field and on the bases. His hands aren't the best at this point, but there is reason to believe he can improve and he isn't really below average anyway.

The bat is surprisingly polished for a prep level hitter, as Cecchini has a solid batting eye already and much better patience than you usually see in a player at his age. He also has plenty of strength in his hands and wrists that hint at some future power.

I'm not a big fan of Cecchini's swing, to be honest. There's a fairly limited amount of video on him, but he's out on his front foot far more than I like to see. Of course, that's the sort of thing you hope could be corrected by good coaching, but for now I think it's a limiter on his ceiling. Personally, I would narrow his stance some, as well. I don't mind wide stances, but he seems to be excessively spread out. Again, though, that's somewhat nitpicky with a player this young and with so much development time in front of him.

Of the three players here today, I think all three would be outstanding pickups for the Cardinals. Bishop would likely be a reach with their first pick (or their second, at 23), but would slot in beautifully in the supplemental-ish kind of neighbourhood. Trahan and Cecchini both play premium positions with high-end athleticism, exactly the sort of player I would hope to see El Birdos take a shot on with one of their multiple early picks. Trahan is probably the best of the three, but I have a feeling about Bishop.

I don't know what I'm going to write about next week. Maybe another draft thing, or maybe we'll have a few games in and can do an update of the spring surprise game. That may have to wait for the week after, though. Not sure yet.

Anyway, have a nice Wednesday, and say whatever it is you need to say in life. You only get one go-round (which seems monstrously unfair, by the way), and wasting time not being honest is just foolish. Take it from your old friend the baron.

See you next week.

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