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2013 Draft Preview Six: Persons of Interest

Six players, all scouted up and ready to go.

Dilip Vishwanat

It's an easy day to celebrate the Cardinals' farm system. After all, last night we watched yet another pitcher make his major league debut, bringing the total over the last three seasons to roughly four thousand. Better still, the Redbirds used four -- count 'em -- four hurlers last night, every single one of them entirely a product of the farm system.

John Gast, Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, Joe Kelly. All four either drafted or signed by the Cardinals, brought along through the farm system, and now proof of the almost ridiculous amount of talent sitting in the pipeline right now.

Even better for me is the fact three of those four players are the types who could have appeared at some point in the past on one of my 'persons of interest' draft previews, as none were first-round talents, necessarily, but all had something about them intriguing enough to maybe catch your eye ahead of time. Joe Kelly actually was featured in a POI thread, along with Ryan Jackson.

It is in that spirit, I offer you a grab bag of draft prospects today, with the hope that one day some player from this list will be making his big league debut wearing the Birds on the Bat.

Ryan Boldt, OF, Red Wing High School (Minnesota)

So, what's so great about this guy?

Ryan Boldt actually probably is a first-rounder, at least from a talent perspective. His 6'1", 190 lb frame is a bundle of athleticism, with speed that could pull a 70 grade on a good day and enough functional strength you could see him hitting for power in pro ball. He's a 60+ tool grade player pretty much across the board, and you just don't see many players capable of doing it all the way he can.

So why is he on this list, as a guy who may be a pick somewhere in the draft, but probably not up at the top? Three reasons. One, he's from a cold part of the country, with all the stuff that goes along with that. Lesser competition, lighter scouting, little on the raw side, etc. Two, he's got a strong commitment to the University of Nebraska, which you would probably have to pay a pretty penny to buy him out of. And three, he's hurt at the moment. He had arthroscopic knee surgery this spring, and while you don't exactly expect that to be a lifelong hindrance, injuries aren't ever really considered a good thing, you know?

I won't make the Mike Trout comparison, I promise. That would be unfair, and probably silly. Rather, I'll compare Boldt's situation to that of Carson Kelly, one of the players the Cards really splurged on after the first round in last year's draft, another supremely gifted athlete from a non-baseball hotbed with a strong college commitment. The Cards took Kelly and bought him out of college; I could easily see them doing the same with a player like Boldt if he's there in the second round or so.

Tom Windle, LHP, University of Minnesota

So, what's so great about this guy?

Wow, two Minnesotans in a row. That almost has to be a first for a draft preview post, don't you think?

Windle throws harder than your average lefty, topping out at about 93 with his fastball, and the first number on the radar gun is almost always a 9. That along is enough to make him intriguing, but he brings a full complement of, um, complementary pitches to the table as well, with a curveball I really like (in extremely limited viewing), along with a slider and changeup that both rate as average pitches.

He's lanky and long, and has a tendency to let his mechanics wander a bit, taking along with them his command. Windle isn't a guy who's going to blow you away on first sight, but there's plenty to like about the tall lefty. He does have a nice Cape Cod League performance in his past, so we know the Redbirds have at least seen him a fair amount. He may not have the highest ceiling in the world, but if you're looking for a pitcher who gives you a chance at a major league starter somewhere down the road, I think you could do a whole lot worse than Windle.

Dan Slania, RHP, Notre Dame

So, what's so great about this guy?

Dan Slania is a big dude. Like, a really big dude. A big sumbitch, in fact, if you want to get technical about it. He goes 6'5" and 275 (listed; that's probably a little light), and cuts quite an intimidating figure on the mound.

He pitches like a big man, too. He throws hard, able to push his fastball into the mid 90s consistently, and his slider is one of the better breaking pitches in this year's draft, period. He attacks hitters, unafraid to challenge any- and everyone, The two-pitch repertoire and aggressive mentality have made him one of the better closers in all of college baseball, and that level of performance will be sure to get him drafted in the first few rounds come June.

For my money, Slania should really be striking out more hitters than he does, considering the stuff. I haven't honestly seen enough of him to tell you if the somewhat low K totals are a result of a fastball that's a bit too straight, iffy command, or a combination of things. Still, he's got the big Heath Bell body and a similar approach, and while he probably isn't going to sell many jeans, the Redbirds seem mostly okay with that.

Michael Lorenzen, OF, Cal State Fullerton

So, what's so great about this guy?

Michael Lorenzen is, in all likelihood, the most athletic player on this list. That's saying something, as well, seeing as how Ryan Boldt up there is known for being a big bundle of nothing but fast-twitch muscle fibers. Even so, Lorenzen has him beat. Well, probably.

The speed is a 70, the arm might be an 80. Lorenzen has hit 98 mph off the mound, and has the capacity for making some truly jaw-dropping throws from the outfield on occasion. Ankiel-esque, even. There may not be another outfielder in this draft who can go get it -- and then get it back in -- the way Lorenzen can in center field. He's a joy to watch out there.

The problem? He can't really hit. Not that much, anyway. He's strong enough he should hit for power, but he doesn't. He doesn't walk, like, at all. At. All. His contact skills are solid, but that's just not enough. He can swipe a bag once he's on base; the problem is getting him there. He does pitch as well as play the outfield, so there is that enticing possibility that if the bat never comes along he could move to the mound. Still, this is a player with the potential to make a real impact with his glove in the field. You hate to move him to pitcher with that kind of promise as a position player.

The best comp I can come up with for Lorenzen, and I think it's a pretty good one, is Jordan Schafer, the former super-prospect for the Braves who has bounced around the big leagues for a couple seasons now as an extra outfield type. Like Lorenzen, Schafer had all the physical gifts in the world (including an absolutely ridiculous outfield arm), but the bat never really came around. He showed the kind of athleticism that you would think would translate into strength, and then into power at the plate, but nope. Just didn't really happen. There's a pretty decent chance that cautionary tale could be the story for Lorenzen, as well.

Me? I would still be willing to take the bet. I would probably be wrong, but I would still be willing to give it a shot.

Hell, somebody just tell him to quit doing that thing with his hands as he starts his swing. That would have to make a difference right there. Ugh.

Wil Crowe, RHP, Pigeon Forge High School (Tennessee)

So, what's so great about this guy?

Okay, first, let's start off with what isn't so great. Pigeon Forge? Really The hell, Tennessee? That's just awful.

As for Crowe (from Pigeon Forge), he's a bit of an oddity as far as draft demographics go. He's a high school pitcher, but not one you dream on in terms of future brilliance. He isn't a raw flamethrower, nor a lanky beanpole you hope will add 5 mph to his fastball with 30 lbs of adulthood on his side. Wil Crowe is a polished high school pitcher, a phrase which is so rare that it almost doesn't exist. (My computer actually just asked me if that was what I meant when I typed it.)

The thing about Crowe is, his stuff is plenty good to succeed at whatever level he can attain. His fastball comes in at 90-92, and the pitch shows some nice natural tail and sink to it. His curveball is his best pitch, a nasty bender that simply overmatches the competition at his level. His changeup is solid as well, a true rarity for a high school pitcher. His control is very good, and his composure belies his age. In other words, it's like you took a 24 year old solid prospect starter and plopped him into high school biology class. Like that Drew Barrymore movie where she was supposed to be a reporter who went undercover as a high schooler. Well, except for the fact Wil Crowe would be better in the role, probably; Drew Barrymore was not particularly believable as a reporter, or a high school student, or a human being, come to think of it.

Drafting Wil Crowe would be an interesting move, in that it's largely the inverse of the raw college pitcher demographic the Jeff Luhnow administration plumbed so unsuccessfully in the early years of his tenure. Mark McCormick, Adam Ottavino, those sorts of guys. Crowe is the opposite; a pitcher whose birth certificate says 18 but whose approach says mid 20s, at least.

Rowdy Tellez, 1B, Elk Grove High School (California)

So, what's so great about this guy?

Hey, do you you really like Matt Adams? Of course you do! Do you ever sit around wishing you could have another Matt Adams, only about six years younger? Well, then have I got an opportunity for you!

Rowdy Tellez (yes, that's a real name; I looked it up too), is a big-bodied, lefty hitting first baseman with the kind of raw power you just can't teach. He can hit the ball out to any part of the field, and probably just about any field, for that matter. He's got a pretty good idea at the plate, too, as he isn't some free-swinging Happy Gilmore looking to just crush everything that comes his way. That said, this isn't exactly vintage Bobby Abreu up there, either, and his approach will need some refining in professional ball.

The fact is, Rowdy Tellez is a pretty damned fine bet to hit down the road.

The other fact is, well, all the other stuff.

Tellez is a high schooler already limited to first base. His body is, um, Adamsesque, which is to say Rubenesque, but with baseball playing dudes. He doesn't run well, and while he has soft hands and good technique at first, his range is already very limited.

Personally, I'm not all that high on drafting a player out of high school who already has such a seemingly limited range of possibilities for his career. This is a player most guys turn in to; not the guy they start out being. I just don't know I would be comfortable taking a risk on a kid with that body, and that position, at that age. But, I've been wrong before. A lot.

That's it for me this afternoon, folks. Enjoy the game tonight, and Happy Shelby Day.