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2016 Draft Review No. 1: Breaking Down Rounds 6-15

Going through the Cards' picks in the middle rounds of the draft, one pick at a time.

Trevor Rosenthal, former 21st round draft pick.
Trevor Rosenthal, former 21st round draft pick.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

So baseball had its draft, and it's over now.

I cannot tell you just how sad I am right now.

The period following the draft every year is, for me, very much like the couple days immediately after Christmas. Or the day after your birthday. Or the first day back to work after a long-awaited vacation. Pick you post-event letdown period, and yep, that's pretty much where I am right now.

I suppose that's what happens, though, when you put six months' worth or work into a thing, not to mention six months' worth of expectations and hope. The thing is, the disappointment comes even when the event was basically exactly what you were hoping for; just because that long-awaited vacation turned out to be the best vacation of your life, it doesn't mean you're not just as sad when it's over as if your trip was a letdown. You may not feel you wasted your time anticipating and planning, but even completely warranted effort and excitement can leave the most hollow of feelings behind when their cause has passed.

The good news, I suppose, is that the showcase season is happening essentially right now; the PG National Showcase is this coming week, running through next weekend. Regional showcases will be going on all summer. The All-American Classic is coming up in August, as are the Area Code games. For the moment, though, I am very much feeling a melancholy sort of discontented contentment.

But enough about me.

Baseball had its draft, and now it is over. The Cardinals made their picks, and many of them were exciting. I've written a little something about each player through the first five rounds; now I'm going to hit the next ten rounds, beginning with the sixth and going through fifteen. On Wednesday I'll try to post info on players of interest throughout the rest of the draft, as well as hopefully give my full thoughts on the approach and execution throughout. Quite a few of those players I'm not at all familiar with, however, and so will have to try and research on the fly. Rounds six to fifteen, though, were populated mostly by players I was at least somewhat familiar with ahead of time.

Rd. 6, #196: Tommy Edman, SS/2B, Stanford

So, what's so great about this guy?

I have serious doubts that Tommy Edman will end up being as promising a prospect as the last well-known Stanford draftee for the Cardinals (Stephen Piscotty, I mean), but that doesn't mean he has no upside to offer. Edman is cut from a cloth of middle/utility infielder somewhere between Aaron Miles and Greg Garcia; he has the switch-hitting and contact abilities Miles brought to the table, and something approaching Garcia's discipline at the plate, if not quite the same level of patience.

The one thing Edman does not offer, in any way, shape, or form, is power. Unfortunately, one cannot even look at his listed 5'10" and 180 and say he has surprising pop for his size, the way you can with, say, a Kolten Wong. Tommy Edman is going to hit singles. Probably quite a few singles, but singles all the same.

The ceiling for Edman is almost certainly a utility infielder, but he's solid defensively -- even at shortstop -- and fits the grinding offensive mentality the Cards seem to value. There's not a ton of upside to this pick, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Tommy Edman contributing 1.1 WAR off the bench in a few years.

via Rob Zeida (no, I don't know what's up with the wistful mid-2000s alt-rock soundtrack either):

Rd. 7, #226: Andrew Knizner, C, North Carolina State

So, what's so great about this guy?

Once upon a time -- and that time was two years ago -- Andrew Knizner was a very intriguing third base prospect at NC State. He was a high-contact righty bat who played solid if unspectacular defense at the hot corner. Not a ton of physical projection left, and so there were questions about his future power output, but anytime a true freshman can hit .330 and keep his K rate under 10% in a major college conference, one has to take some notice of his bat.

And then a funny thing happened. Andrew Knizner made the Carson Kelly move, going from third base to catcher and losing much of his offensive production in the move, like your recently-divorced cousin Tom and his living room furniture.

Of course, we know the catcher position is incredibly difficult, and takes a physical toll on a player that's different from pretty much any other on the field. There's also the issue of the learning curve for a new position; so much of a guy's energy is going to go into that transition that something somewhere else in his game is going to suffer. And therein lies the intriguing aspect of Knizner's profile. He's a fairly solid-looking defender behind the plate now, having two seasons under his belt, and he showed at one point in time plus-plus contact skills. The arm is plenty strong for the catching position, and he has that natural spring coming up out of the crouch that you hope to see from a backstop.

On the other hand, Knizner has never shown a ton of power, and doesn't really have much room to fill out and add muscle. He should get a little stronger as he moves into his twenties, but nowhere in his profile will you see the word 'projectable'. He's also currently no better than average defensively, and some aspects of his glovework are still quite raw.

Best case scenario for Knizner, I think, is a backup catcher in the big leagues, who makes his living on a low strikeout rate and average defense. That's certainly not nothing, of course; developing a guy like Knizner means you shouldn't have to sign (and pay), the Brayan Penas and Jason LaRues of the world. Still, this is a pretty limited upside pick, I think, though not a bad one for all that.

via George Bianchi:

Rd. 8, #256: Sam Tewes, RHP, Wichita State

So, what's so great about this guy?

I've mentioned before, in considering certain injured pitchers, that the Cardinals tend to steer clear of Tommy John survivors in the early portion of the draft. It's why I wasn't particularly surprised they passed on Jordan Sheffield, in spite of his talent (and also how aesthetically pleasing I find watching him pitch, for whatever reason). That rule doesn't hold true once you get a little later into the draft, though, and the Cards apparently decided to roll the dice on a talented but injured pitcher in round eight, picking up Sam Tewes from a Shockers program that has steadily increased its profile over the past decade.

Tewes is a tall righty with a solid sinking fastball at 88-92, better feel for a change than many amateur pitchers, a good, if occasionally slurvy, curveball, and tremendous command of the strike zone. He also has a slightly funky short-arm sort of delivery that seems to add deception to his pitches, but is probably also one of the big risk factors that ultimately led to his elbow issues.

The question of whether Tewes is signable or not is going to be a very interesting one, as was the case with the Cards' Tommy John pick two years ago, Trevor Megill, who elected to go back to school in an attempt to raise his stock. Tewes has a couple years of eligibility remaining, and so could decide against turning pro. If I were him, I would probably sign the best deal I could, and get myself into a professional organisation's TJ rehab program. But, that's probably a tough call for the guy in the situation.

via Jeff Zimmermann:

Rd. 9, #286: Matt Fiedler, OF, Minnesota

So, what's so great about this guy?

I'll be honest: I don't know anything about Matt Fiedler. In fact, I'm not sure I'd ever heard the name before the Cardinals drafted him.

Here's what my research since that time has given me: he's small (5'9", 170ish), has played all over the field (including pitching in relief for the Golden Gophers), has above-average speed, and was hurt much of this spring. Perhaps a Shane Robinson type, only maybe more versatile?

I apologise for not knowing more. But, that's how it goes when you start getting into these later rounds.

Rd. 10, #316: Danny Hudzina, 2B, Western Kentucky

So, what's so great about this guy?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what a money-saving pick looks like. Hudzina is a fifth-year senior from a small school who plays a corner infield position and lacks any one carrying tool.

He does, however, appear to have very good plate discipline and average power. So maybe there's something here. Most likely, though, this is an org player who allowed the Cardinals some flexibility in their budget. Then again, I would have said the same thing about Matt Carpenter when he was drafted, so it's worth remembering that major leaguers don't all follow the same route to get there.

via Danny Hudzina:

I will say, I like the swing.

Rd. 11, #346: John Kilichowski, LHP, Vanderbilt

So, what's so great about this guy?

Can I tell you how excited I was when the Cardinals called the name of one of my favourite college pitchers coming into this spring? I mean, it wasn't naked dancing arrest excited, but it was pretty close.

Here's the thing, though: Kilichowski, for as much as I liked him before the season (and as much as I still like him now, in fact), has perhaps as much as any player in the draft to gain by going back to school. Following Vandy's College World Series run last year, in which Kilichowski played a huge role, it looked like he was going to be at top three round pick, maybe better. Then came 2016, and he missed nearly the entire college season due to injury. The fact he could potentially gain so much from going back to Vanderbilt for 2017 and hopefully proving himself healthy and sound is why he was picked in the eleventh round, rather than a top ten round where he could potentially cost the selecting team part of their bonus pool.

When he's right, Kilichowski works with a three-pitch mix, all three of which are at least average and perhaps a tick above. His fastball averages right around 91, bumping 93, and he has excellent command of the offering. He sells a sinking changeup with outstanding arm speed, and throws slurvy breaking ball that's probably better served as a slider than a curve, but shows good spin and shape when he commits to it.

Personally, I'm really, really hoping the Cardinals can figure out some way to make the money work and get Kilichowski into the system. I loved him before the season, and in spite of the lost year he just endured, I think there's a very good chance he becomes a productive major league pitcher in relatively short order.

Oh, and also, John Kilichowski is smart. How smart? Like Stephen Piscotty, only a pitcher. He says 'eye-ther' instead of 'ee-ther'. Hopefully he's smart enough to know a good situation when he sees it, and the sides can come to an agreement that would allow Kilichowski to get his career started in an organisation that is second to none in developing pitchers over the past half-decade, at least.

via vucommodores:

See what I mean?

Rd. 12, #376: Brady Whalen, SS, Union High School (WA)

So, what's so great about this guy?

Brady Whalen was another player I considered early on for a Persons of Interest post, but I didn't feel like I really had enough of a feel for his game to say much. Seeing as how the Cardinals drafted him, though, I'll tell you what I saw from him at Area Codes last year, which is the only occasion I've really seen him.

He's tall and lanky (6'4", listed at 185 but might be less), and looks to me like he's going to end up too big to play up the middle. It works at seventeen, but he's going to get quite a bit bigger before it's all said and done. Considering the body, he seems surprisingly strong already. Switch-hitter, and the swings are actually both pretty well developed. Very good bat speed. If he continues to hone the swing as he adds strength, this is a guy who could have 60 power or better in a couple years. The arm looks strong and a good fit for third base.

I think he probably goes to college (he's committed to Oregon), and comes out a vastly more coveted prospect. The Cards may get one of either him or Kilichowski, but it seems almost impossible they would get both.

via Baseball Northwest:

Rd. 13, #406: Shane Billings, OF, Wingate University

So, what's so great about this guy?

Sorry, folks, I've really got nothing on this one. I don't even have this name anywhere in any of my notes or lists.

Looks like he's built kind of like Harrison Bader. Is that helpful? Probably not.

He appears to be a power/speed guy who used to play third base, but is listed as an outfielder. I'll try to get some more information in the near future if at all possible.

Rd. 14, #436: Vincent Jackson, OF, Tennessee

So, what's so great about this guy?

Much like the better-known Vincent Jackson, the jump-ball specialist in the NFL who has had such an effective career jumping over defenders downfield, the baseball-playing Vincent Jackson is a physical specimen. I actually liked him as a junior out of Tennessee last year, but an injury-plagued spring (thumb ligament, torn sliding into a base), hurt his stock to the point he went back to school. I'm sure he's signable this year as a fourteenth rounder; remember, any bonus up to 100K after the tenth round doesn't count toward any kind of bonus pool.

At 6'4" and 200 lbs, Jackson cuts the figure of a slugger. Up until this season, though, the numbers have reflected a much different hitter; he was overly passive and simply didn't have much of a plan at the plate. He did show above-average patience in both 2014 and '15, but patience and real discipline aren't necessarily the same thing.

This spring, things really started to come together for Jackson. He hit for more power than ever before, and more importantly, the process by which he got to that power was much better. What before looked like a deer in the headlights passivity revealed itself to be a cerebral, considered approach that needed time to mature and balance out. It seems like that might be happening for Jackson. He runs well; he's a potential center fielder long-term, and has enough arm he could play any outfield position.

I'm calling it now: Vincent Jackson is my sleeper of this draft for the Cardinals. Both he and Jeremy Martinez, the USC catcher the Cards popped in round four, are very intriguing bats at positions where you don't always find intriguing bats. By this time next year, Vincent Jackson is going to be one of those players people look at and ask aloud, "How did he fall so far?"

Rd. 15, #466: J.R. Davis, INF, Oklahoma State

So, what's so great about this guy?

I really hate to end this post on kind of a negative note, but I don't really know much about Davis. I watched very little OSU baseball this year, and he didn't jump out at me when I would catch a game. He looks to have solid bat-to-ball skills and some extra base pop (mostly of the doubles variety), but at 5'9", 185 we probably shouldn't expect massive slugging numbers.

Davis has played all over the field, so he brings some versatility to the table. Honestly, though, this is about as low-risk, low-reward a gamble as you can take. Sorry I don't have more on him.

I loved nearly everything the Cardinals did early on in this draft, and I like at least half of these players quite a lot as well. In other words, we still don't know basically anything about Randy Flores as a scouting director, but given the names the Cards added to their system this year (potentially, barring other circumstances), I have to say the early returns are extraordinarily promising.