Tell me if you've heard this one before: the Cardinals surprise their skeptical fanbase by taking a well-regarded college hitter with their first round pick, and while scouts are divided on his defense and scouting potential all agree that he can hit line drives with anybody else in the draft.
Here's part of the red baron's scouting report from back in March:
Zack Cox is another player a bit in the mold of Bryce Brentz, in that he's not going to kill you in the field, but it's his bat which is going to get him drafted and carry him through the minors. Unlike Brentz, though, Cox doesn't have light-tower power, even though he's certainly big enough to suggest the ability to hit the ball a long way.
What Cox does have, though, is pure hitting ability that should get him drafted plenty early. His stroke is solid, with good bat speed, and he uses all fields. I've seen his swing referred to as short, but I would quibble with that. There's a bit of armsiness there. He's polished and understands the strike zone, and doesn't get himself out very often.
As I said before, one would expect him to have more power based on his stocky, mature frame, but it just doesn't seem to be in the cards. There are those who expect him to develop power based on his ability to make hard contact, but I'm not sure I buy into that. I call that line of thinking the Oakland Power Projection, because we heard it for years with players like Daric Barton and Travis Buck, and it doesn't seem to happen. Plenty of those types of guys turn out to be very good hitters, but rarely do they develop anything resembling plus power.
He's continued to hit a lot since then; the baron's suggestion at the time was that "In the end, I think Cox could have a very nice pro career. His bat will translate well, I believe, and his experience in a top college conference should help him make a fairly smooth adjustment. I don't know that he has the juice to be a star player, but I could see him as a very solid contributor on a good club, especially if a move to second base were to take."
I'm just glad to see the Cardinals take a guy who is a hitter first; the system is particularly bare with hitting types.
Draft discussion thread: here.
Game thread: here.