cardinals' big draft day yields controversial haul

Mar 10, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) explains toCardinals general manager John Mozeliak that Mozeliak's bike has been stolen and taken to the basement of the Alamo. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

an unprecedentedly rich first day of the draft brought a controversial set of prospects to the cardinals' system, assuming they all sign. the cardinals' draft was heavy with high-floor college talent, and included some controversial names that many considered a reach.

19. michael wacha, RHP (texas a&m)

23. james ramsey, OF (florida state)

36. stephen piscotty, 1B-3B (stanford)

52. patrick wisdom, 3B (st. mary's)

59. steve bean, C (rockwall, TX HS)

wacha's write up by our own red baron was covered extensively in the previous post. he was a consensus first rounder, with many mock drafts calling for him to be drafted just after the top ten. scouting on his pitches seems very conflicted, but the buzz phrases i hear a lot of include: "close to the majors," "middle of the rotation," etc. it sounds like he may have an upside that gets downplayed somewhat (a jon garland comp seemed particularly inapt). see the fine research put together at future redbirds.

james ramsey was widely predicted to be a supplementary round pick and was panned by several commenters as a reach that might have been available at #36. he's been stuck with a "tweener" label by many scouts; not enough defensive aptitude for center, not enough offensive skill for a corner. still, he seems to have a lot of positives. he had great success in the cape cod league, long a wooden-bat testing ground for the cardinals. his cost-effective posture as a college senior with little to no leverage in negotiations led many to complain the cardinals were going cheap. see future redbirds' writeup.

stephen piscotty got a lot of love for his bat iin the run up to the draft. he was moved off third base recently, and many have qualms about his ability to stick anywhere other than first base. like ramsey, he succeeded in the wood-bat cape cod league. many projected him as a first-rounder (baseball america put him at #26 overall in their top 100), so he is no reach early in the supplemental round, at least relative to conventional wisdom. future redbirds.

patrick wisdom may have been the most out-of-the-blue pick in the first day of the draft. unlike piscotty and ramsey, wisdom got his extra summer league exposure playing for the kenai peninsula oilers in the alaska baseball league. brendan ryan is an alumnus of the same league. wisdom did not make most top 100 prospect lists, which raises the question of whether the club should have waited until a later round for him. however, reviews of his defense seem to be fairly good. scouting of his offense seems to be generally positive, although this past spring seems to have been a setback for him. definitely an odd and unexpected supplemental round pick.

the cardinals' last pick, steve bean, was the only high schooler selected today. he may immediately become the best catching prospect in a catching-poor system on the day he signs. he was no particular reach, ranking in the 60s in the most recent BA list. scouts seem to like his defense, particularly his arm. his offense seems to be the question, but i am very fond of his swing. he has a commitment to the university of texas, but i can't see the cardinals having a hard time luring him away from higher education, especially since they seem poised to save a fair amount of money on some of these picks.

i realize the common response seems to be that the club is merely cheaping out on its draft, failing to take advantage of high upside opportunities. i reserve the right to believe that the club actually sees something in some of the stranger picks - ramsey, who led Division I teams in park and league adjusted OPS, like another maligned draft pick, kolten wong (h/t to codyg); and wisdom, who apparently has more offensive tools than some suspect. if the club merely wanted to find cheap signs, it certainly could. the cardinals have spent a long time picking college hitters. and i am increasingly doubtful about some of the scouting conventional wisdom. brett wallace was a consensus first-round pick, once. if the club sees more upside in someone like ramsey or wisdom, i'd rather they went in and snatched them up than sign someone who's "supposed" to go at that spot. remember, this was considered a pretty poor draft year on balance. so far, the cardinals have built one of the best systems around, following the same philosophy they continue to use this year. even if this wasn't your ideal draft, i think they've earned a little breathing room to watch it play out before condemning it.

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