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2008 Draft Preview- The Wish List

You know, I was already planning on writing about the draft this morning; I even said as much on Saturday. Thank Heaven for that, because that sad, swirling cesspool of suck we saw last night doesn't deserve to be spoken of.

Two positives. One, Albert. Obviously. Two, Crabman's first major league homerun. Congratulations, Mr. Barton. Very cool.

Alright. I've done a ton of these draft reports. As I believe I said very early on, I love the draft. No idea why, but I really do. Along the way, I've tried to offer up scouting reports without a whole lot of editorial content; I hope I've done at least an adequate job at presenting the true picture about the players. Well, to hell with that now.

This morning, I'm just going to put out there the players that I really like, the players I would be looking at if I were in charge. Feel free to brutally attack or brutally praise my choices. I've got ten players here that I really think are worth some attention; five are probably in the mix for the first pick at #13, the other five fit in somewhere else. Without further ado, here we go.

My Choices at 13

Jake Odorizzi- RHP/SS, Highland HS- Highland, IL

I'm actually a latecomer to the Odorizzi bandwagon. Several of the posters over at Future Redbirds have been talking this guy up for a while. I admit, I wasn't a fan. As time has gone on, though, I've read more about the kid, and seen some video of
him playing, and I've slowly come around.

Before the season, Odorizzi looked like a 2nd or 3rd rounder. He's had some serious helium this spring, though, rising up to consideration as a 1st round pick. He throws two fastballs, a four seamer in the 90-94 range and a two seamer in the upper 80s, touching 92. He's got a hammer curve, and an improving slider. His changeup isn't much to speak of, but he's got plenty of time.

At 6'2" 170lbs., Odorizzi has plenty of room to grow, hopefully increasing his already impressive repertoire. He also plays a tremendous shortstop, with smooth actions in the field and a plus bat to go along with above average speed.

Odorizzi has that almost ridiculous athleticism that reminds me a bit of Michael Main from last year's draft. Main was the RHP/OF from a Texas High School that the Rangers ended up drafting at 22, I believe. I was big on the Main bandwagon last year, and I've come to think Odorizzi would be a great pick. He might be seen as a bit of reach at 13, as most boards still have him in the latter half of the first round, but I think this kid has a chance to be special, and I think the Cards would do well to at least take a good look at him.

Tim Melville- RHP, Holt HS, Wentzville, MO

Both Melville and Odorizzi are basically local kids, and the Cardinals have had both in to Busch Stadium to look at them firsthand, so they're at least both on the radar. Melville entered the year as the top prep pitcher in the draft, but has seen his stock take a hit. His velocity has been inconsistent, though he's improved as the season has gone on. There are questions about his arm action, too. Personally, I still believe in his talent, and I've seen much worse arm actions. Hell, Gerrit Cole is projected to go very high, and he may have the single ugliest arm action I've ever seen.

Melville is a big time talent. What mechanical issues he has are probably correctable. He's very similar to Phil Hughes, the high school righthander the Cards passed on in 2004 to take Chris Lambert. We'll see what they do now, but I think Melville has a chance to be a very good pitcher down the road. I like Odorizzi slightly better at this point, just because I really like his delivery, but Melville is still very high on my personal wish list.

Casey Kelly- SS, Sarasota HS, Sarasota FLA

Kelly is one of the more interesting players in the draft. He's another guy with some real helium this year, as his bat has begun to make some real strides. Defensively, Kelly offers a solid package, with an above average arm and graceful actions in the field. He's big for a shortstop, at 6'4" and 190 lbs., but his actions suggest that he should be able to stay at short. Of course, third or second base are options too. Kelly's ultimate value lies in whether or not you think he'll hit. I think he will. He fits the mold of the new shortstop, much in the vein of a Tulowitzki and his ilk. Kelly's also a pitcher, but doesn't really project as one beyond his current level. Of course, the Cardinals have taken shortstops early in the draft two of the last three years, (Tyler Greene in the 1st round in 2005; Kozma last year in the 1st) but Kelly may very well be worth the pick.

Brett DeVall- LHP, Niceville HS, FLA

DeVall I'm a little torn on. I really like the kid's delivery, and what he brings to the table, but I don't like him quite as well as some of the other players I'm listing here.

DeVall is a very mature, very intelligent pitcher. He's not overpowering, as his fastball is typically in the high 80s to low 90s range, but he has solid command already and a great idea of what he's doing. He has a decent curve that needs some work, and a dynamite changeup. His delivery is smooth and easy, without a whole lot of extra stuff in his arm action. Unfortunately, he's probably already maxed out physically, at 6'4" 220, which means there isn't a whole lot more velocity to come. He could still add a tick or two as he continues to develop and mature, but he's by no means a projectability pick. Still, he has a chance for three average to above pitches with great command. Bottom line, I like DeVall a little more if it were later in the draft, but he intrigues me. Hell, maybe it's just that I want to see what would happen if the Cards drafted another high school lefty from Florida...

Aaron Hicks- OF/RHP, Woodrow Wilson HS, CA (I believe it's in the Long Beach area)

Simply put, Hicks may be the most freakishly athletic player in the draft. He's a two way threat, pitching in the mid 90s with a nasty breaking ball, but most scouts agree he has a much better chance of making it as an outfielder. Hicks has well above average speed, decent power potential, a plus plus arm, the ability to switch hit, and a baseball rat mentality. What he doesn't have is polish. And when I say he lacks polish, I mean he lacks polish like a coffee table left in a swamp for twenty or thirty years. Hicks is extremely raw, both as a pitcher and a position player, but the tools are just too great to ignore. He's definitely risky, but the payoff could be huge. What can I say? I'm a sucker for upside.

Those are the five players I would really like in the first round, in the order that I like them. There are five other players I'm really interested in in the draft, at other times than the first round.

Tanner Scheppers- RHP, Fresno State University

Scheppers was cruising right along this season, flying up draft boards, getting press as the best pitcher in the draft not named Matusz or Crow, and then suddenly he got hurt. Scheppers was shut down a few weeks back with shoulder pain, which was then diagnosed as a stress fracture. Since then, however, there's been some debate as to exactly what kind of injury he really has. It's all very confusing.

Either way, Scheppers' stock has taken a pretty serious hit. Before the injury, lots of people were just hoping that Scheppers would somehow fall to the Cardinals. Now it looks as if there's almost no chance he goes in the first round. There's just too much uncertainty with him being hurt.

Scheppers throws hard- his fastball ranges in the 92-95 range pretty easily- and at 6'4", 200lbs., he's got some room to continue filling out. What's more, Scheppers was originally a shortstop and has only been pitching about two years, so there's definite reason to believe there could be even more in the tank. He's also got a plus slider, but not a whole lot to speak of changeup wise.

I was lukewarm on Scheppers before he got hurt, just because I fear the raw college pitcher in the first round, (Paging Drs. Lambert and Ottavino, please) but, strangely enough, I like him more now that he's hurt. He could now be an ideal buy low candidate if one was certain the injury wasn't a long term concern. Of course, I can't say one way or the other, but he could be a steal if he falls very much, which has a very good chance of happening now.

Daniel Schlereth- LHP, U. of Arizona

Schlereth is a college reliever, and a good one at that. He was drafted last year as a red shirt sophomore by the A's, but decided to go back to Arizona. So far, it looks like a good idea, as he's turned in a very solid season.

A lefty setup type reliever, Schlereth throws hard, topping out at 97 and sitting pretty comfortably at about 94. He's got a curveball that has very good rotation and break, but he struggles to command at times. His best pitch may be his changeup, which has hard sink and fade and has accounted for the bulk of his strikeouts this year. There's some definite funk to his delivery, and his mechanics aren't ideal, but that's not a huge concern as a reliever.

I'm not usually a big fan of drafting specifically for organisational need, but Schlereth offers something the Cards don't have: a shutdown lefty reliever. He shouldn't need much time in the minors, as he's very nearly a finshed product already, and the prospect of having a dominating lefthanded presence to complement a guy like Chris Perez and possibly Jason Motte at the end of a ballgame is just too exciting not to consider. I think Schlereth would make a nice pick in the supplemental first round. His ceiling is probably a setup man, but he's as safe a bet to get there as any player in the draft.

Zach Putnam- RHP, U. of Michigan

Putnam has improved his stock this spring, primarily due to his improved secondary pitches, especially his splitter.

Putnam fits the Cardinal pitching philosophy very well, as he's a definite sinkerballer. He's not a one pitch pitcher, though. He has plenty else to put up solid strikeout numbers. Again, Putnam would be a candidate to move quickly through the system and help out fairly soon. I like him a lot in the supplemental round, though whether or not he'll be there for the taking is really anybody's guess.

Harold Martinez- SS/3B, Braddock HS, FLA

Martinez has been one of the most disappointing players to follow this draft season. He came into the year as one of the most hyped prospects in the country, and has failed to come anywhere near the expectations. He's struggled both offensively and defensively.

Martinez makes another fantastic buy low candidate. Personally, I still believe in the talent, and I think his failures this year will make him a better player in the long run. While many look at his defensive problems and are turned off by the lack of range, I always thought he'd probably move to third anyway, so the range doesn't really bug me too very much.

I think Martinez would be a good third round pick. I say third because, as we all know, third round picks are still protected, meaning if the Cardinals picked Martinez and failed to sign him, they would receive the same pick in  next year's draft as compensation. Martinez is committed to Miami U., so you would most likely have to offer him an over slot deal for the third round to entice him away from school. Still, I think he's got an awful lot of talent, and could be a real bargain in the third.

Brett Jacobson- RHP, Vanderbilt

In pretty much every draft, the Cardinals take at least one player from a particular demographic of the draft, that being the raw college pitcher. A college pitcher who has real talent, yet who, for whatever reason, has failed to produce great results in his career. Knowing they'll probably take at least one of these guys, I think Jacobson could be a pretty solid pick of this exact type.

Jacobson's been on the prospect radar since he was in high school, when he was seen as  being one of the better prep pitchers in the 2005 draft class. Somehow, though, it just hasn't come together for Jacobson like it was supposed to.

Jacobson, on the mound, offers three pitches that could end up being at least solid average and very well could be better than that. He throws a fastball right around 90, but with very nice sink on a steep downhill plane from his height. (6'6") His best pitch presently is his curveball, which is an overhand hammer that he doesn't always command, but is still deadly nonetheless. His changeup, too, has real potential, with very good armspeed already, though the pitch doesn't have as much depth as you would like to see. He's got a funky, overhand delivery, that some scouts don't like, as his arm action is a little odd. Still, with the big overhand bender and solid changeup, I see a little bit of a guy like Wainwright in Jacobson. The Cardinals simply can't seem to stay away from at least one projectability college pitcher, and I think Jacobson could be a pretty good pick in that vein, somewhere around maybe the fourth or fifth round. I've never quite understood why Jacobson has so far failed to live up to his considerable potential, but betting on him to get there eventually may not be a bad idea.

Again, this isn't any sort of ranking of the quality of players the Cardinals could possibly pick; it's just a list of guys I really think could be good picks. As I said before, you can lambast me all you want; I can take it. At the very least, it'll take our minds off of what we witnessed last night.

The draft is only a little more than a week away now, and I can hardly wait. I bet you can't either, if only to be done with my interminable draft talk.

Til next time.