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2008 Draft Preview- College Position Players

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The Cardinals had an off day yesterday, and I haven't done one of these in a couple of weeks, so I think it's a pretty good day for it.

Derrick Goold, as always, delivers the goods over at Bird Land. He has a great little piece up about Bryan Anderson and Mike Matheny. As a huge Anderson backer, I love reading stuff like this.

Not a whole lot of an intro today, let's just get right into it. In this edition of the draft preview, I'll be covering a couple of collegiate position players.

Jemile Weeks, 2b, University of Miami

5'9" 170lbs.

DOB:26th January, 1987

Player Page

So, what's so great about this guy?

Jemile Weeks is the younger brother of Rickie Weeks, the Milwaukee Brewers' second baseman. Much like his older brother, Jemile is a ridiculously athletic middle infielder. Overall, though, there are just as many differences between the two brothers as there are similarities.

Jemile is a prototypical leadoff type hitter. He offers pure speed that rates a 70 or even an 80 on the scouting scale. He has the same strong wrists and quick bat as his brother, and he's a switch hitter to boot. Jemile does not, however, bring the same kind of power to the plate that Rickie does, as his overall physical strength is not as great. Jemile has excellent on base skills, with very good plate discipline to go along with the ability to make consistent, solid contact. He does have the ability to drive the ball with some power into the gaps, making him a triple waiting to happen.

In the field, Jemile uses his small, nimble frame to play a well above average second base. The same speed that makes him such a threat on the basepaths translates into excellent range in the middle of the diamond. Along with his range, Weeks has extremely quick hands, allowing him to make a fast transfer from glove to throwing hand. His arm is also above average, allowing him to make plays that very few other second baseman can. He's a polished, fundamentally sound player in all phases of the game, with good footwork and an excellent idea of what he wants to do at all times.

Weeks is a very intriguing player. He's polished enough that he could potentially move quickly through a farm system, while being athletic enough to offer a fairly high ceiling. Picking him at 13, though, might be a bit too high. I doubt he'll be available in the supplemental round. Personally, I see Weeks going sometime in the 20-28 range overall. I would love to get him in the supp., but I think he's going to fall in between the Cardinals' picks. (Come to think of it, I seem to have said that about an awful lot of players.)

Gordon Beckham, SS, University of Georgia

6'0" 185lbs.

DOB: 16th September, 1986

Player Page

So, what's so great about this guy?

Beckham is, quite possibly, the hottest player in the nation right now. He was already seen as a mid to late first round pick going into this season, and he has started out like a house on fire. So far, he's leading the SEC in most categories. All you really need to know, though, is that he's hitting .507 and has 9 home runs in 15 games.

On the field, Beckham is a complete player. He doesn't offer quite the off the charts athleticism of Jemile Weeks, but performs admirably in all phases of the game. To begin with, Beckham is one of the best bats available in the draft who doesn't play first base. In 2007, his sophomore season, Beckham hit .307, with 13 round trippers, 19 doubles, and 51 RBIs. He started all 56 games last year and held up well even in the Georgia heat. He has a good approach at the plate, with a balanced, line drive stroke from the right side. He gets excellent bat speed, and has enough loft to drive mistakes out of the park. At times, his swing can get a little long, but that has happened much less often as he's matured as a player.

Beckham's physical tools are above average across the board. He's not a burner, but still offers good speed, both on the basepaths and in the field. His arm is strong and accurate, allowing him to make plays from the hole at short. He has all the tools to be a standout defensive player, but, to this point, hasn't quite put it together. He made 16 errors last season, good for only a .943 FP. Most of his errors, though, at least from what I understand, are of the ill advised throws and overzealous play type. Those sorts of errors can be eliminated with coaching. Beckham would have better luck if he learned to play a bit more under control in the field. Beckham's build is a little reminiscient of Miguel Tejada, with a more solid, muscular frame than the waterbug type you see from many middle infielders. He is a couple inches taller than Tejada, though.

Bottom line, Beckham was seen going somewhere between 12 and about 18 or 19 in the draft before the season. He has obviously increased his stock with his performance thus far. He offers an attractive package of polish and upside for the Cardinals, if he were available and they chose to pick him. The Cards have taken a shortstop in the first round two out of the last three years, though, and I wonder if they would really want to take another. Personally, I think Beckham would be a very nice pick. I generally prefer high schoolers, but Beckham fits in with my desire for the team to build up the middle first, with premium defensive position players being preferable.

Buster Posey, C, Florida St.

6'2" 200lbs.

DOB:

Player Page

So, what's so great about this guy?

Buster Posey is on of the most intriguing players in the entire draft. Posey plays catcher now, but up until last year, he was a shortstop and occasional closer. As befitting a former middle infielder, Posey offers an athletic base of tools that really aren't in line with your typical catcher.

Last year, his first at the catcher position, Posey hit .382, with 94 hits overall, 21 doubles, and 65 RBIs. He's a legitimate top or middle of the lineup hitter, offering enough on base skills to bat 2nd or 3rd, with enough present power to project as possibly a 5th or 6th hitter. Posey helped his stock significantly last summer with a great performance in the Cape Cod League, showing off a swing that translates to wood very well.

Posey's offensive profile is very impressive, with polish to spare. There are some questions about his long term power potential, though. Some scouts see him as a future slugger, while others see him topping out around the 15 HR mark or so. Either way, at the catcher position, Posey is a rare commodity. His speed is just average, although good for a catcher, and his range at short was a little suspect, a big reason why he was moved.

Defensively, while he is still admittedly developing, Posey appears poised beyond his experience level. He appeared in all 62 games that Florida State played last year, and accumulated a .994 FP. His arm is strong, even for a catcher, and accurate, allowing him to throw out 41% of attempted basestealers last season. As a closer, Posey topped out around 93 mph, so his arm obviously isn't a concern. He also had solid mechanics and a good breaking ball, showcasing excellent body control, which should allow him to excel at blocking balls and setting to throw down the line. It's not all rosy for Posey, though, (see what I did there?) at least not behind the plate. He's obviously still developing and learning the position. He moves well, but his technique at blocking balls and his footwork overall is still somewhat raw. When the only real negatives on a player are related to inexperience, though, you have to believe you have a potentially special player.

I see a little bit of Russel Martin or J.R. Towles in Posey. A catcher with athletic abilities that are very unusual for the position, he has definite impact potential. Given that, though, I'm having kind of a tough time figuring out where Posey is going to go in the draft. I think he would be a really good pick for the Cards, but I don't really see them taking him. Catcher is a position of real depth in the organisation, and I'm not sure if they would want to spend such a high draft pick on a player they might see as somewhat redundant. I think Posey is such an unusual talent, though, that he would make a wonderful addition to the farm system, completely apart from any other factors.

I'm not sure if any of these three players really represent a likely choice for the Cardinals in June. All three are extremely talented players, and all three could potentially be impact players down the road. Given where the Cards' strengths, weaknesses, and recent draft history falls, though, all three of these guys could be passed over for various reasons.

All right. About two more of these, I think. 'Til next time, everybody.