Well, that was certainly unexpected.
With their first pick, number 23 overall, the Cardinals selected Delvin Perez, a high school shortstop out of Puerto Rico.
There's a lot to unpack here.
A month ago, there was no way Delvin Perez was even a consideration for the Cardinals. This was an elite defensive shortstop, whose offense had begun to pick up this spring, his senior year, and was considered a mortal lock to go in the top ten picks. He was a favourite to go in the top five. He was under consideration in the top three.
A week ago, Delvin Perez was the best shortstop in a loaded draft, and a potential franchise cornerstone player.
And then the news broke. Perez had tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Delvin Perez was suddenly a PED pariah, with a positive test for an unknown (or at least undisclosed, I should say), banned substance under his belt.
I have no idea how to price in that positive test, honestly. How much do you discount the offensive breakout when you suddenly have a PED issue floating around? Or, conversely, how much do you care when you have a seventeen year old kid from a rough area of Puerto Rico trying to put on weight, trying to get bigger and stronger, trying to make himself into the biggest bonus baby he can to get a payday and improve his standard of living? I don't know what to do with all that.
Here's what I do know: Delvin Perez is talented. In fact, if you put the question to me and forced me not to equivocate, I would probably say Delvin Perez is the most talented position player in the draft this year. Here is my scouting report on Perez from back in early March; at the time Perez had just begun to really show those breakout offensive tools that pushed him from a mid-first rounder to a top 3-5 pick. I pointed out the electric athleticism and elite-level defensive tools, but also talked about the lack of functional strength and how much his body will need to change as he grows and matures to become an impact offensive force to match his defensive abilities. It looked, in the months since then, that the seventeen year old was beginning to make those strides. Now there are fresh questions.
But at the bottom of it all, do we care? I care about the game being clean. But I'm not sure I can find it in myself to hold it against a kid trying to escape a rough upbringing when he does whatever it takes, even when he goes outside what I might consider fair and proper conduct. So maybe, just maybe, I don't care.
And even further at the bottom, we have this truth: the Cardinals may have just gotten their Francisco Lindor. Their Addison Russell. The Cardinals may have just gotten one of the top five players in the draft, perhaps the most talented position player available, and a potential true potential cornerstone player.
And they did it with the 23rd pick.
This...is sort of amazing.
Some video, via The Prospect Pipeline: