Tonight is the start of the 2013 MLB draft. Starting at 6pm CT on the MLB Network, the first two rounds of the draft including compensatory picks will take place. On Friday, the draft continues -- at a much brisker pace -- starting around midday. The Future Redbirds crew will have open threads for discussion tonight and tomorrow. We'll aggregate everything we can find -- biography, video, analysis -- for the players selected in each round. Those of you who followed us while we were still at the old site know the routine. We'll be sticking with that over the next few days.
It's always a fun time of year -- if one with a heavy workload -- and watching the Cardinals select a new batch of names we'll have to remember and players we'll get to watch is invigorating. Clearly, the Cardinals have been both good and lucky over the last few years given how many hits they've had on draft picks. They've graduated a ton of talent to the majors this season. From our top 20 list, we've seen the #2, #3, #6, #7, #8 & #17 prospects all look like they might lose their prospect status by the end of the year. The farm system is doing exactly what it was supposed to do but this season will see a real depletion. Now is the time to restock.
So what do we know as we head into the draft tonight? The answer is that we know very little. The Cardinals have become a very disciplined organization over the last 3-4 years and there's rarely been reliable leaks about who they intend to pick. The mock drafts on the internet are spotty by nature but especially so with the Cardinals. This is exacerbated by the Cardinals continued success at the majors which drives down their first round pick. With their first pick at #19, there's little way to predict who will be available at that slot.
We know the Cardinals aren't afraid of high school players anymore. They've shown a clear willingness to sign young players in the early rounds be it Shelby Miller, Tyrell Jenkins, Carson Kelly, Charlie Tilson or Steve Bean. Historically, high school players have become major league players with less frequency than college picks but, as Shelby Miller has shown this year, the right player can pay big dividends.
We know the Cardinals still have a penchant for college players and we know that isn't a bad thing. First of all, the exceptionally aggressive nature of promotions for college players in the last few years that has seen guys like Tyler Lyons and Michael Wacha rocket through the minors should re-calibrate our perception of what age college players will arrive in the majors. Second, the Cardinals have shown that older rookies -- Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, Jon Jay -- can still provide value even when they don't see the majors until they are 25+ years old.
We know the Cardinals draft based on statistics. In particular, the Cardinals love the Cape Cod league. You can bet your first born that there will be a player with a Cape Cod pedigree selected by the Cardinals in the draft this season. You should also watch for them to select a player with good statistics from a lesser known school where they've been able to find some late round steals like Matt Adams.
We know the Cardinals draft based on scouting. Tyrell Jenkins was not a numbers pick. He was a pick for his exceptional athleticism that the Cardinals thought they could mold into a starting pitcher. Steve Bean was not a numbers pick. He was a guy who the Cardinals thought would grow into a more advanced role as a catcher based on what their scouts saw.
We know the stats versus scouting debate is a false choice and outmoded thinking. The Cardinals didn't select Michael Wacha in 2012 because of any set of numbers. They didn't select Wacha because some scouts saw him and loved him. They selected Wacha because the system was in agreement. The numbers were good; the scouting reports were good. All signs pointed to a special player. There are undoubtedly some picks where a scouting report outweighs bad statistics or good statistics outweigh a bad scouting report but the Cardinals have been successful in the draft, in part, because they've moved beyond that outdated dichotomy.
We know the Cardinals can miss. The Cardinals farm system has done well because they've had a lot of success in the later rounds. What's been less chronicled are some of the misses that the Cardinals have had with their first round picks or their first round compensatory picks. Players like Zack Cox and Brett Wallace who were jettisoned before it came to light just how bad those picks really were. The Cardinals reaped value from the picks -- which is about all you can ask -- but we shouldn't expect them to bat 1.000 during the draft. They certainly haven't been flawless in previous years.
We know the Cardinals aren't going to pick your favorite pick available tonight. We know they do this on purpose to aggravate you despite the fact that you know better than they do. That's okay because by the time that pick reaches the majors, no one will recall what you thought anyway. Just like no one remembers Jeff Luhnow parroting a comparison between Pete Kozma and Nomar Garciaparra in 2007. No one remembers that.
So pour yourself a stiff drink tonight and join us for some draft time fun. The open thread starts at 5pm. Andy, Jeff and myself will all be around through the evening. We'll recap the Cardinals three picks on the evening - 19, 28, 57 - and we'll tell you who the Cardinals really should have selected in the 2013 draft. After all, we know.