I had planned on doing some sort of update post this week, tracking some of the players who have moved up or down or in some other, third direction not easily represented, but that sort of post will require quite a bit of time, which I find myself possessing a real dearth of this morning. Ergo, the scouting reports you're about to read will likely be a bit more compact than usual.
By the way, this team sucks. Lance Lynn sucks, the offense sucks, Kevin Siegrist sucks, and the whole city of Milwaukee can eat a bowl of dicks. Ahhh. I feel a little better.
Seriously, though, I am just the tiniest bit curious what exactly is the logic behind sending down Kolten Wong and his .544 OPS to the minors, due apparently to his poor offensive performance, in order to see more of Mark Ellis and his .352 OPS. I thought we had moved past this kind of bullshit. Oh, well. I'm kind of excited to see Greg Garcia, who looks like a really great fit for a Daniel Descalso-sized hole one of these days.
Anyway, enough of my sour grapesing. Let's look at some infielders.
Michael Chavis, 3B/2B/SS, Sprayberry High School (Georgia)
DOB: 11th August, 1995
5'11", 185 lbs
So, what's so great about this guy?
Going all the way back to one of the very first installments of the 2014 draft previews I've done, there was a post in which I covered what was, at the time, my list of three favourite position players. Going back to it now, I don't have much of a problem with the picks, either, although Trea Turner has not been nearly the player this season he was in 2013. Why that is, no one can quite figure out, but something seems to have happened to him. The Max Pentecost pick, though, I still really like, even if Aramis Garcia (ahem, that's former Cardinal draft pick Aramis Garcia), may have grabbed himself some helium and stolen my heart. (Again.)
The third guy I covered in that piece was a high school third baseman by the name of Kevin Padlo. Not a real well-known kid at the time, and still relatively unheralded compared to many of the names we go over in these pages. I'm still a big Padlo fan, and he's had himself a very nice spring, and I would love to see the Cardinals grab him in a middlish sort of round and lure him away from college with a nice big check. However, Kevin Padlo is no longer one of my three favourite position players in this draft. In fact, he's no longer even my favourite high school third baseman.
The guy who is now my favourite high school third baseman, and right in the middle of that top three positional talents discussion for me, is Michael Chavis, who might not even be a third baseman.
His position throughout high school, for the most part, was third base, and that, in the majority of possible universes, is his best position down the road. But, given the vagaries of quantum mechanics, there are at least a few of those universes where he's playing one of the middle infield spots someday. In fact, he's played mostly shortstop this season, and he shows the kind of footwork and athleticism that makes the idea at least plausible in the future. He possesses a plus arm as well, suitable for either position on the left side of the infield, or even catching duty if it were required down the road.
Chavis doesn't necessarily look the part of a premium athlete; he's stocky, a bit along the lines of Mike Trout's build, though a couple inches shorter. If Trout is a middle linebacker, Chavis might be his weak side counterpart, or maybe a strong safety. Nonetheless, he's a 55 runner, maybe even a tick better, and has shown an ability to play up the middle. This is a premium athlete.
But what makes Chavis really stand out from the crowd, for me, isn't his athleticism. Sure, it's a big, big plus, but he isn't gifted to the point I think he's going to out-athlete some of the other premium positional talent in this draft. No, what makes Chavis special for me is the bat. And it's quite a bat.
I'm sure you all have heard me say it before, but I've come to believe over the past few years that the one tool capable of trumping pretty much all the others is the hit tool. Pretty much every other physical tool falls by the wayside if a guy has a great bat. If you can hit, you can play, somewhere. And Chavis is one of the two best pure hitters (Braxton Davidson being the other), in the high school ranks this year, in my ever so humble opinion.
Chavis has a quiet, relaxed setup in the box that I love, and absolutely elite batspeed. He's cut from the up-the-middle, gap-to-gap mold as a hitter, and is capable of hitting bullets to any part of the field. He doesn't sell out for pull and power, and he doesn't get himself out. He hits. It's just what he does.
There's plenty of power in his swing, as well, though it doesn't always show up in games as of yet. He won the home run derby at the Perfect Game Classic last summer, beating out players like, say, all three of the guys I covered a few weeks back in the bat-first player post. Chavis's home run derby swing is a little, well, home run derby for me, but when a guy hits the way he does already, and has the raw strength to power up and win a derby as well, you have something very, very special.
And that is exactly what I think Michael Chavis is. I think he's a third baseman. I think he's a really good one. And I think he's really, really, really special.
Josh Morgan, SS, Orange Lutheran High School (California)
DOB: 16th November, 1995
5'11", 180 lbs
So, what's so special about this guy?
Hmm. I'm trying to think of a nice way to say this, because considering the crowd I'm speaking to, it's going to come out a little...is there an adjective that means damning with faint praise, but it's just one word? 'Cause if so, that's the word I need right here.
Josh Morgan is very, um, Pete Kozma. So, you know, there's that.
By which I mean Josh Morgan is a player whose whole is greater than the sum of his parts, as he possesses solid average tools across the board, but fails to really stand out in any one area while still playing that most premium of positions. So that sort of Pete Kozma. Draft Day Pete Kozma, if you will.
Morgan has solid range for a shortstop, an above-average arm, good hands, and slightly above-average speed. He's shown a little pop at the plate, and while he isn't a great hitter, he'll hit plenty enough if he's playing up the middle of the diamond. Again, it may sound as if I'm damning him with faint praise, but he is absolutely one of those players you have to watch for awhile before you really fall in love with them.
His instincts and baseball IQ help all his tools play up, and I believe he'll stick at a middle infield position in pro ball with no trouble at all. He's definitely got the arm for short, but if his range proves to be a little lacking, I think he moves over to the keystone without a problem. The bat might be a little weak if he has to move to third base, though as I said, I personally don't think that's a likely outcome.
I'm not super high on Morgan, to be honest. When I'm looking at a player, I tend to gravitate toward guys who do at least one thing extremely well, even if the player comes with some fairly serious holes elsewhere in his game. That being said, there's every reason to believe Morgan has the defensive chops to play a premium position while contributing across the board. He isn't my first choice, but a team could definitely do worse, especially considering how difficult it seems to be in the current climate to find players capable of manning short.
Matt Chapman, 3B/RHP, Cal State Fullerton
DOB: 28th April, 1993
6'2", 205 lbs
So, what's so great about this guy?
Matt Chapman is a big, physical specimen with a monster arm, a solid glove, and plus raw power. In other words, he has the tools to be an impact third baseman at the big league level. He also has some pretty significant questions attached to that possible future.
In the field, Chapman shows off very good hands. He can pick pretty much anything over at the hot corner, and while he doesn't have the range to make some of the most spectacular plays, when it's two steps and dive, he corrals just about everything that comes his way. The arm is an easy 70 -- he's been clocked as high as 98 off the mound, though he hasn't really pitched much in college -- and pretty much guarantees the balls he does get to turn into outs.
He's strong, too, and it shows up in batting practice, as Chapman is capable of putting on a show with the best of them. His swing in-game doesn't have quite as much lift, but when he connects, the ball tends to go quite a long ways.
And...there's kind of the problem. When he connects. Chapman's actual hitting ability is questionable at best; I personally am not a believer. There's a fair bit of swing and miss to his game, and while he's shown a willingness to take a walk, his actual approach at the plate leaves a lot to be desired. Even in college, this is a guy you can pitch to. It's not that he's impatient, exactly; he just doesn't seem to have much feel for the strike zone.
If I had to slap a comparable on Chapman, it would be fairly easy. I would comp him to Patrick Wisdom, the third baseman the Cardinals took out of St. Mary's in the supplemental round two years ago. Both are solid-average to plus defenders at third with big arms, plenty of raw power, and plenty of problems turning that raw power into tangible offensive results. Chapman won't strike out quite as often as Wisdom, I don't think, but he is, I believe, just as likely to struggle to maintain a decent average in pro ball due to a really nasty habit of expanding the zone.
I wasn't a huge fan of Wisdom at the time of the draft, even though I felt he had a much better chance of staying at third than Stephen Piscotty, the other college third baseman the Cards drafted early in 2012, just due to what I saw as the limitations on his offensive ability. Chapman is much the same for me. I love the arm (and, it should be mentioned, the Cardinals have shown a proclivity for pitching conversions in recent seasons, so...just an idea to keep in the back of your mind), and I like the pop, but I have serious doubts as to whether he ever hits enough to make it in pro ball.
Fifteen down, however many more to go, everybody. Next week I'm going to try and get that progress report-like post done, including a draft board of sorts, in terms of the players I'm most looking at for our beloved Birdos to maybe snag. Hopefully I can find the time.