2014 Draft Preview 14th Edition: Persons of Interest One

Mike Stobe

Five scouting reports instead of usual three! Bonus content!

Good morning, folks.

I hope we won last night. Or, tonight, as the case may be, since I'm penning this (or at least starting it), on Tuesday evening. Winning is more fun than losing. This whole not playing particularly well thing is most definitely not fun.

Then again, it is a little funny to listen to all the sky is falling talk on the radio shows and various other outlets and then realise the Cardinals, having played just six games at home out of their first 20, are on pace for roughly an 89 win season. Don't get me wrong; 89 wins for this team would be an enormous disappointment. But it's a team that, to date, has played really, really poorly, and they're still playing better than .500 going through an absolutely brutal early-season stretch of scheduling. The level of consternation might be just a bit overwrought.

On the other hand, they're not hitting, and a team that isn't hitting always looks a thousand times worse than a team losing some other way. A team struggling with its pitching can be frustrating -- especially when it's the bullpen, as it has been so far for the 2014 Cards -- but it's always in a, "Damn, we just couldn't pull that one out; if only [these three things] had gone differently," kind of way. A team that isn't hitting just looks like a big collection of suck. Listless suck. Talentless suck. Dead in the water suck.

Hopeless suck.

So, I hope we won last night. It's more fun than the abject hopelessness of collecting one run on five hits night after night.

Anyway, I have five short scouting reports today, of players who are not first-rounders, probably not supplemental or second rounders either. These are players who offer something interesting, but aren't, for one reason or another, high draft pick types. Even in the age of available video on hundreds of kids and internet resources, it isn't always easy digging up these kinds of players for a rank amateur such as yours truly. But, hey, sometimes you come across a guy, right?

Sam Coonrod, RHP, Southern Illinois University

6'2", 180 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

Coonrod is a local(ish) product, born in St. Louis and raised in the wilds of Southern Illinois, and that alone makes him worth drafting. Okay, maybe it doesn't, but it's a nice story all the same, don't you think?

What Coonrod does offer worth drafting is an extremely fast arm, and a delivery that really isn't too bad. He was clocked as high as 97 mph with his fastball last summer in the Cape Cod League, pitching mostly in short stints, but usually sits more in the 93 range as a starter.

He throws a slider, but it comes and goes. I did see one truly nasty breaker down and in to a left-handed hitter for a swinging strike three in the one game of his I've actually been able to attend, but mostly the pitch is inconsistent in both break and location. I think I saw one pitch that was identifiably a changeup (unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone in the crowd with a gun to try and spy on), and it looked okay-ish, but considering there was only that one, I'll have to go with most of the reports and say his changeup is in the barely-existing part of the 20-80 scale.

His command is shaky; it surprised me a little, because his delivery didn't appear to waver much throughout the outing, but he just doesn't have great mastery over what he's throwing. At this point, I like Coonrod, but only as a relief-first, pure arm strength kind of pick. He seems like a great kid, and the arm works, and the mechanics don't scare me. Still, I think his best bet in pro ball is to move to a bullpen role, try to nail down the slider, and let his arm carry him up the ladder.

I have my doubts about his ability to refine his game enough to start long-term, but I would be thrilled if the Cards could add Coonrod's power arm to their stable in the middle rounds.

Luke Eubank, RHP, Oxnard College

6'1", 185 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

Okay, let me put this in terms Cardinal fans will understand really well: find the middle point between, say, Sam Gaviglio and Joe Kelly. Got it? That's Luke Eubank.

Eubank is a sinkerballer. Actually, make that a Sinkerballer. He throws a sinker that rates, for me at least, as one of the very best you're going to see in this year's draft, and a pitch that I believe has a chance to make Eubank into one of those guys who makes a General Manager look awfully smart down the road for popping him in a middle round.

His sinker sits in the low 90s, and it's Lombard Street straight. He can cut the pitch, run it to the armside, or work it almost straight down, Brandon Webb style. It's rare to see a kid this young with such mastery over a temperamental pitch like this, but Eubank is a potentially special pitcher, in my estimation.

There isn't a whole lot else to Eubank's repertoire, honestly, which is probably the biggest limiting factor for him in terms of his draft ceiling. He throws a decent changeup, with a chance for the pitch to be better, but for now the pitch just doesn't have much of a wow factor to it. His breaking ball -- call it a curve, call it a slider, whatever you like, really -- is strictly a project at this point.

He works from a lower arm slot that might lead some to immediately forecast relief work, but I'm not worried about that. His lack of secondary stuff right now limits his ceiling, but even if he never masters more than his sinker, I think the pitch is good enough he could make it to the back end of a major league rotation on that pitch alone. If he could take a step or two forward with his offspeed offerings, he could turn out to be something really impressive.

Also, this is a kid who just oozes confidence. Actually, call it what it is: the arrogance of pitching. Eubank has it. He also has his own Youtube channel where he posts videos of himself pitching, which I have to admit is kind of awesome.

Dale Carey, OF, University of Miami

6'2, 207 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

Dale Carey has not had a very smooth road to travel on getting to where he is now. He's never been much of a hitter, but his junior season as Miami was just brutal, as he hit .192 for the season with just one home run, which, in case you were wondering, is why he is still playing for the U as a senior.

He's hit much better this spring, and he's filled out a bit as well, though he still looks significantly thinner than his listed weight to my eye. Carey's game has always been based around speed, and that hasn't changed, but the increased strength and bulk has allowed him to drive the ball with a bit more authority this year than he has in the past.

The glove is legit, and he can run down pretty much anything you hit even close to center field. His arm is probably a 55, and he's generally both accurate and smart with his throws. Despite that shockingly low batting average -- and accompanyingly terrible OBP of .283 -- in 2013 he managed to swipe twelve bases. He was only on base 43 times total.

It's possible Carey is just a bit of a late bloomer, and he's finally beginning to come into his own at 22. He has remarkable athleticism, and his speed could make him a very intriguing draft pick if a team was looking for a defensive wizard who projects as a bit of a lottery ticket with the bat. Plus, as a senior sign, he'll likely come with a reasonable price tag attached; that could certainly be helpful for a team looking to get creative in moving bonus money around to make a signing work. He's very much a sleeper, but this is a player I would absolutely be willing to take a chance on for a reasonable investment.

Spencer Adams, RHP, White County High School (Georgia)

6'5", 180 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

Tall and lanky and working from a very unorthodox arm slot, Spencer Adams offers a ton of both deception and projection, plus some fairly decent present stuff. He's had a good spring, and some good press to go along with it.

His fastball currently tops out about 92, sitting in the 88-89 mph range, but his strange, short-armed delivery makes the pitch very deceptive, and hitters have a tough time catching up. It has nice movement when he locates it down, but flattens out when he leaves it up.

Adams's best pitch is his slider, a nasty mid-80s offering with that frisbee like movement you only see from guys with that low arm slot, and right-handed hitters have virtually no chance against him when he's locating it. His changeup is very good for a high school pitcher, as the deception of his arm action that helps the fastball play up does wonders for his change of pace as well.

The concern for me is primarily the arm action, which looks risky to my eye. The arm is very late coming through, and I feel much better projecting him for long-term success in a relief role than I would as a starter. The problem, of course, is you don't take a high schooler with that frame and a chance for three pitches and turn him into a reliever.

Kevin Cron, 1B, TCU

6'5", 245 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

Kevin Cron is a big, strong dude who hits baseballs like a big, strong dude should hit baseballs.

Well, that's not entirely true; I should say Kevin Cron always hits baseballs like a big, strong dude should hit baseballs in batting practice, and will occasionally hit a baseball the way a big, strong dude should hit a baseball in an actual game situation.

The younger brother of Angels' prospect C.J., Kevin is a remarkably similar player to his brother, except perhaps even more so. He has tremendous raw power, and can hit a ball over everything when he squares one up. The problem, of course, is he doesn't square the ball up nearly as often as you would hope for a bat-only player, as his approach at the plate tends to leave something to be desired. He's entirely too pull-conscious, selling out for power when he's strong enough to not need to do so. His 2013 campaign was especially ugly, as he struck out 44 times in less than 200 at-bats, and walked just one-quarter as often as he struck out. When you're staking your future on your ability to hit, you probably need to do better than .208/.280/.276. He did, however, show much better last summer in the Cape Cod League, and we all know the Cardinals do tend to put an emphasis on wood bat success.

Cron isn't the most athletic guy on the planet, but he's nimble enough to play a solid first base, with better feet than you might think looking at him. He has an arm that's probably a tick above average as well, though you obviously don't see it a whole lot considering the position he plays.

What needs to change for Cron is his approach at the plate. He has enough pop in his bat he doesn't have to try and pull everything to hit for power. If he would (could?), learn to hit the ball consistently to the opposite field, I think it would make a huge difference in his offensive production. The strikeouts are obviously a big concern, but again, I think that's something that might very well be ameliorated if he weren't constantly out on his front foot, trying to yank the ball over the left field wall on every pitch. His conditioning is always going to be a concern.

Cron is a one-dimensional player who, unfortunately, hasn't shown consistent excellence in that one dimension. All the same, this is a guy with big-time power in his bat, and that's a remarkably rare commodity these days it seems. I'm not a huge fan of Cron, but I'm also not blind to all the reasons he could be a very intriguing player to a team that believes it could coach up his approach.

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