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2018 Draft Review: The Day Two Picks

Rounding up all the picks the Cardinals made on day two of the draft.

St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training Workout Session Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

Two days of drafting down, one day to go.

The Cardinals made eight more picks yesterday, as the second day of the draft rolled through, offering further chances to alter a franchise’s trajectory, either for better or for worse. I’ve been covering the draft for a lot of years now, and even I have to admit that the draft, beyond a certain point, becomes a grind to pay attention to. The first night is always super exciting, right up to the point where your club picks a player you think is terrible, but even with that it’s a gripping night. The first couple picks of day two are always fun as well; there are damned exciting players who get picked from rounds three to five. And then, on day three, you jump right in with two fun rounds in eleven and twelve, when, thanks to being past the ten-round bonus pool restrictions, teams can loosen up a little and take a couple of risky signing bets on exciting players who slipped for whatever reason.

In between round five and eleven, though, and definitely after round twelve, the’s a slog. That’s not to denigrate the players taken in those rounds; look at the Cards’ 2009 draft if you want to see what kind of talent can be unearthed in the late rounds. Matt Carpenter in the thirteenth round. Trevor Rosenthal in the 21st. Matt Adams in the 23rd. Keith Butler was popped in the 24th round that year, and made it all the way to the big leagues before getting injured, having Tommy John surgery, and disappearing. (Remember that bit, because it comes up later.) Kevin Siegrist was drafted in the 41st round one year, and that round doesn’t even exist anymore. Tommy Pham is one of the best players in the National League, and he was drafted in the 16th round.

My point is, there are players found all through the draft with talent, and guys who will, in fact, make it to the big leagues against all odds, and even make an impact at that level. Even so, there are far more players picked who are just minor league depth, selected so the cream of the crop will have someone to play with or against, guys you won’t have heard of even if you spend six months writing draft previews, and guys you won’t need to worry about hearing of again. It can be a very tiring process.

But even so, there’s something very satisfying about the draft after the picks are made. There are new names to consider, players to research (or to dig up previous notes on, if you happened to check them out already), and scouting reports to write. There is work to be done, in other words, and when there is material about which to write, the writing comes a lot easier.

So let’s write.

Rd. 3, #95: Mateo Gil, SS, Timber Creek HS (TX)

6’1”, 180 lbs; Bats/Throws: Right/Right

DOB: 24 July 2000

So, what’s so great about this guy?

One of the first things that will come up in any discussion of Mateo Gil will be the fact he’s the son of former major leaguer Benji Gil, who played parts of eight seasons in the big leagues with the Rangers and Angels. Those bloodlines are definitely no guarantee of success, but teams value them highly. Athletes tend to have athletic offspring, and the child of a major leaguer will likely have spent a huge amount of time around the game, immersed in the game.

The good news about Gil is that bloodlines aren’t the only thing he has going for him, as he has attributes in the field, in the batter’s box, and even on the mound that make him a very intriguing draft pick.

At the plate, Gil has above-average bat speed, and it isn’t hard to believe he could have at least average power down the road once he fills out and gets stronger. The swing looks pretty good, with a good hand load and good swing plane. His hands drift a little bit, though that has, to his credit, improved markedly even just over the past two years, and I think there’s potentially some cleaning up that could be done there. He’s about a 55 runner, and has plenty of range in the middle infield. It’s not a guarantee he stays at short, but I don’t see any reason to think he’ll have to move off anytime soon.

Gil also happens to be a pretty solid pitching prospect, and if I’m being honest I like him on the mound a little more than as a position player. He’ll get the fastball up to 92, and it’s got excellent movement. The secondaries aren’t anything to write home about, but he’s also a two-way player who’s just seventeen years old.

Speaking of, both Gil and Nolan Gorman are among the younger players in the class amongst their draft demographic, which seems to be a consistent theme for the Cards the last couple years. There’s another trope working for Gil, which is that two-way nature, in that the Cardinals have had more than their fair share of hitter-to-pitcher conversions. If Gil fails as a hitter, he could pull a Sam Tuivailala and try his luck on the mound. The organisation also seems to feel it’s easier to go hitter —> pitcher, rather than the reverse. I’m not saying that’s the plan, just that it’s a thing they’ve done before, with a high school shortstop drafted in the fourth round, which is of course not the third round, and so obviously it all falls apart.

Overall, I like this pick. Osiris Johnson was one of my favourite players in the draft, and Gil has a somewhat similar skillset, with perhaps even a better chance of staying at shortstop long term.

via Mike Ashmore:

Rd. 4, #123: Steven Gingery, LHP, Texas Tech

6’1”, 210 lbs; B/T Right/Left

DOB: 23 September 1997

So, what’s so great about this guy?

I covered Gingery before, and I’ll just let the scouting report I wrote then stand in order to save a little time here. The too long, didn’t read version: Gingery has a great changeup, a pretty good sinking fastball, and is basically Marco Gonzales with a little more of ground ball focus.

Gingery is also recovering from Tommy John surgery, and that’s a big complicating factor in how I feel about this pick. I know Tommy John is seen as a near-automatic recovery by a lot of people these days, but there are still pitchers who simply don’t make it back. Pitchers whose stuff never comes back, or whose command never returns, or who end up with further injuries either due to compensating for the elbow or because their mechanics are so stressful they ended up blowing out their elbows at 21, which really shouldn’t happen. Look no further than the Cards’ system, where we’ve seen Jordan Swagerty disappear, and Keith Butler get eaten by wolves, and Alex Reyes currently look like he may never contribute at the major league level in a meaningful way now.

I wasn’t all that high on Gingery before he had Tommy John, as he’s a pretty limited-ceiling type of pitcher. Then he got hurt, and got riskier, with what I personally see as a still low payoff potential. I get the rationale behind this pick; I just don’t really agree with it.

Rd. 5, #153: Nick Dunn, 2B, University of Maryland

5’10”, 175 lbs; B/T Left/Right

DOB: 29 January 1997

So, what’s so great about this guy?

Okay, so Max Schrock hasn’t won an MVP award yet, as a certain FanGraphs writer of note has maybe been predicting for a couple years now. He’s still a very intriguing prospect, and perhaps the kind of high-contact player teams may find worth focusing on in this brave new world of high-bounce, low-friction balls that seem capable of turning the most modestly-statured middle infielder into a 20 homer a year guy.

In that same vein is Nick Dunn, a contact wizard from the Big 10 who took a step forward this year with his bat, specifically in terms of showing some power that had previously not much been there.

The tools for Dunn are not that impressive, at least aside from preternatural hand-eye coordination. His arm is below average, limiting to second base, and he’s only about an average runner. He’s not super rangy, and doesn’t really do anything that would make a person say Wow while watching him play.

What he does do, though, is walk nearly twice as often as he strikes out (well, this year, anyway), and make a ton of contact. He also hit ten home runs this year in 254 plate appearances, double what he hit in 2017, and in 29 fewer trips to the plate. Whether he adjusted his swing to put the ball in the air more or just put a few more over the wall due to physical development I can’t say; I didn’t follow him before this spring, to be honest, so I have a very limited ability to spot changes, rather than just what I see now. And what I see now is a dead-simple swing, very Schrock-y, with little wasted movement and no real holes. He works all fields and is almost never off-balance.

The upside on Dunn is probably somewhat limited, due to the mediocre athleticism and modest tools, but he can really put the bat on the ball. And as we’ve seen, that’s enough to get players to the big leagues a lot of the time.

via 2080 Baseball:

Rd. 6, #183: Edgar Gonzalez, RHP, Fresno State

6’1”, 200 lbs; B/T Right/Right

DOB: 22 December 1996

So, what’s so great about this guy?

I’m going to level with you: Edgar Gonzalez was not on my radar coming into the draft. At all. I didn’t even have him on my early follow list, so I just completely missed on him. I sent an email yesterday to the one guy I know who might have something on Fresno State players, and he responded with, “90-91 FB, slurvy breaker, can’t keep his delivery together.” He then apologised for not having more time, but this is, as I’m sure you can all imagine, a busy time for scouts and scouty types. Or at least a stressful one.

So with that small bit of info, I pulled up the one video I found of Gonzalez on YouTube, and I’m going to give you my scouting report based on watching him throw for roughly two minutes. I’ve watched the video like four times, so I’ve technically seen him throw for eight minutes, but you get my point.

Here’s my read: the delivery does look a little complicated, but I really like the arm action in the back. It’s long compared to a lot of modern deliveries, but that’s largely a function of modern arm action coaching being so geared toward simpler, shorter arm circles that force pitchers to add in power somehow after it’s been bred out of them. Still, I can see where Gonzalez might have a tough time keeping things in sync. He reminds me a bit of one of the Weaver brothers, though he’s not as extreme as Jared or as funky as Jeff. He shows his numbers to the hitter, which I tend to like.

The fastball looks like it has really good sink, so maybe that 90-91 velocity plays up a little. The pitch I’m really excited about is the third one he throws in warmups: the curveball. It looks exceptional, with really good shape and power, and he sells it with nearly the same arm speed as the fastball. I don’t know if Gonzalez can repeat that thing whatsoever, but if he can learn to throw it consistently, the Cards might really have something. He throws a changeup and a slider also, and neither one is nearly as impressive as the curve. The slider doesn’t look bad, though; just not in the same league as the curveball.

That’s all I got. He throws four pitches, which to me would indicate he should at least get a chance to start, but maybe that sinker/curve combo could play up in short work down the road a bit. I’m really intrigued by what looks like a present plus breaking ball to me at this point in the draft, I have to admit.

via Scout Trio:

Rd. 7, #213: Brendan Donovan, 3B/OF, U of South Alabama

6’1”, 195 lbs; B/T Left/Right

DOB: 16 January 1997

So, what’s so great about this guy?

Brendan Donovan, in contrast to our last draftee, I was on this spring, and I can tell you stuff about him, because I liked him a lot as a mid-round sort of pick.

First off, Donovan played primarily third base for South Alabama, but it looks like the Cardinals have him listed as an outfielder. That’s disappointing to me, because in making the Bryce Denton move already Donovan loses some value. Then again, I’m not sure his defense at the hot corner was anything to write home about (judging defense in limited looks is just not something you can be sure of), so probably the Cards did their due diligence and just don’t think he makes it as an infielder.

On the other hand, what’s not disappointing is the bat. In fact, the bat is downright exciting, as Donovan has one of the sweetest batting strokes you’ll see, somewhat similar to that of Scott Hurst, the outfielder the Cards took last year out of Cal State Fullerton, only without the leg kick. Donovan puts that swing to good use, spraying line drives from gap to gap, and while he didn’t show quite as much power this year as he did as a sophomore in 2017, I think he could end up the sort of hitter classified by broadcasters as, “a doubles machine.”

He’s also an extremely patient hitter, walking in 18.5% of his plate appearances this year, and he walked roughly half again as often as he struck out. In short, there’s a pretty substantial offensive upside here, both in on-base skills and some damage on contact.

Beyond that, he looks like a pretty average runner. I have no idea how the glove will play in the outfield, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play there. It’s the bat the Cardinals are betting on, though, and I think it’s a pretty smart wager.

via Vincent Cervino:

Rd. 8, #243: Lars Nootbaar, 1B/OF, USC

6’3”, 210 lbs; B/T Left/Right

DOB: 8 September 1997

So, what’s so great about this guy?

I mean, he’s named Lars Nootbaar. I think that’s like a Toblerone, only with hazelnuts instead of almonds.

But also, Lars Nootbaar has some offensive upside, though he looked like a much more intriguing hitter as a sophomore than he did this season, when his ability to drive the ball seemed diminished.

Despite being a big, strapping sort of fellow, Nootbaar is really more of a contact/singles hitter. He hits from a slight crouch and does a good job of avoiding strikeouts, but he doesn’t really show the kind of thump you would expect from a player who goes 6’3” and at least 210. (At least.)

He’s not a great athlete, probably limited to first base defensively down the road, and isn’t much of a runner. If he hits like he has in college as a pro, he probably doesn’t have much value. Nootbaar does, however, have the size and strength that would seem to suggest he should have more power than he’s shown so far, and perhaps pro coaching can help him unlock it. He’s got a very patient, disciplined approach at the plate, which should help him control the zone and focus on doing damage. The really good development story version of Nootbaar is probably something like a poor man’s Brian Giles.

via Pac-12 Networks:

Rd. 9, #273: Matthew Duce, C, Dallas Baptist

5’11”, 190 lbs; B/T Left/Right

DOB: 22 November 1995

So, what’s so great about this guy?

And here come the college seniors. Both Duce and the Cards’ tenth round picks are seniors, and thus should be very cheap signs. I hate to say that’s the only or even primary reason they were drafted, but with the way the slot system works we can’t really pretend that doesn’t play a role.

Which is not to say Matthew Duce doesn’t have any tools that make him worth drafting; he’s a lefty-hitting catcher with some pretty good contact skills and just a little pop. After OPSing nearly 1.000 in 2017, he returned to school this year and saw his numbers plummet, though it appears there might be a fluky low BABIP to blame on that front. He walked nearly 17% of the time this year, walked nearly a third more often than he struck out, and ran an ISO over .200 for the second consecutive season. Tough not to like the performance, even if the tools don’t seem all that loud.

He’s a good catch and throw guy, as well, with a 60 grade arm and more practice catching good velocity (Dallas Baptist always has a couple relievers who push high 90s every year, it seems like), than many college catchers. This feels like a good value pick here to me, because I think Duce is better than the 273rd best pick in the draft, and by a pretty fair margin.

via DBU Athletics:

Rd. 10, #303: Kevin Woodall, 1B, Coastal Carolina

6’6”, 240 lbs; B/T Right/Right

DOB: 20 March 1996

So, what’s so great about this guy?

Honestly, I’ve got very little on Kevin Woodall as well. I checked out Coastal Carolina some this year, most notably for a potential late-inning arm in Jason Bilous, but I didn’t really get much on Woodall. He’s another senior sign, and I do know that he has huge right-handed power, but he never really stood out to me. Lot of swing and miss, not much of an athlete. The Cardinals clearly wanted to grab some power in this draft, and they did so.

Day Three of the draft is already under way, everybody; apologies for this post being so late. I just couldn’t get anything written up yesterday evening, and a few of these players I had to research on the fly. I’ll be back on Sunday with a writeup of what the Cardinals did the rest of the way, just in terms of highlights and notable players.

Until then.