The Cardinals selected left handers with their first round draft pick and their compensation pick for the departure of Kyle Lohse. In the second round, they turned to a top prep shortstop. The Post-Dispatch has some fun quotes after talking with first round selection Marco Gonazales from Gonzaga University last night. This is clearly the quote that will get the most play from Gonzales:
Gonzales said by telephone, "What I lack in height, I make up in my competitive nature and confidence."
You can't hand a local reporter a more red meat quote than that. He's a gamer, you guys. He's passionate and assertive on the mound. One might go so far as to call him ... scrappy.
Though that term could also be reserved for Rob Kaminsky who does his best to out scrap Gonzales among last night's quotes. Gonzales is listed at 6' 1" and has two inches over the 5' 11" Kaminsky. Kaminsky don't care.
"I’ve been hearing [about my height] for a while now," said Kaminsky on a conference call. "I never knew there was a certain height to get people out."
And I can't help but marvel at the cognitive dissonance displayed within the same quote from Scouting Director Dan Kantrovitz. Here's his "they aren't short, but they may be short" quote:
"I wouldn’t call either of these guys short. They’re may be undersized for a major-league starting pitcher. But they’ve had to do certain things in their careers to compensate for that. Both have had tremendous success at their different levels."
There's two things you hear talked about with regards to both of these left handers: they aren't considered projectable, they are already good pitchers. The first will lead some to call them safe picks and to an extent that is true. It would be wrong to let "safe" act as a stand in for "bad" however since neither of these are bad picks. They just aren't the sexiest picks you'll ever see.
It's also worth noting that Lance Lynn was once considered an eminently safe pick. With a tweak to his mechanics, he added two miles to his fastball and became an entirely different pitcher. That's not a baseline we should set for all draft picks but it reflects the mercurial nature of even the most well-known prospect entities.
The second point about these two -- that they are already good pitchers -- is really a reflection of having advanced secondary pitches: a changeup for Gonzales and a curveball for Kaminsky. Of the two, Kaminsky has the better velocity with reports having him consistently in the low 90s. With Gonzales in particular there's going to be a temptation to throw around words like "pitchability" because of his underwhelming fastball. That's a disservice to the way that Gonzales pitches and how good the rest of his stuff actually is.
These are both good selections. Kaminsky has more star potential, in my opinion, though he'll have to deflect the same size questions Carlos Martinez has had to. Gonzales should move quickly through the system while Kaminsky looks more like a 3-4 year payoff.
After the selection of the two lefties, the Cardinals were shocked, shocked I say to find that Oscar Mercado was still on the board for the second round with pick number 57. Dan Kantrovitz as reported by MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch:
"Frankly, we didn't think Oscar was going to get to our pick at 57. When you see a shortstop of that caliber still on the board at 57, we weren't going to walk away."
Kantrovitz talks further about Mercado's clear weakness, the bat:
We think Oscar is going to surprise some people with the bat. But at the same time, we're going to have to be patient with him. He's not a guy that we are going to expect to fly through the system. He's a young high school player that we're going to take our time with and groom, and hopefully he develops at the pace we think he's going to.
I mostly agree with him too. It's way to soon to write off Mercado as a known offensive quality. The tools are there and there's some mechanical refinements/consistency that needs to be cleaned up. With a little more age & muscle, there's no reason to think that his offensive profile won't improve.
If we're being honest though, this is the latin version of Pete Kozma. While I hated Kozma's swing coming out of high school, the ultimate upside of both of these players just probably isn't that far off. Of course, if that upside is a good defensive shortstop who hits enough to make you not hate him, well congratulations, you've got a 3 win player.
The last takeaway from the first day of the draft is that the Cardinals expect all three of these players to sign at or above slot. They are already warning of the forthcoming college seniors in rounds 3-10 which starts today at 11:30am Central. I'll be back with another open chat thread at that time if you want to discuss the draft. Otherwise you're free to chill out here for the rest of the day.
PS - I hear Shelby Miller hit a ball last night. Along with like 4 other guys. Cardinals win 12-8.
Future Redbirds coverage of Marco Gonzales, Rob Kaminsky & Oscar Mercado