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2019 MLB Draft: Rounds 3-5 - Cardinals select Locey, Pallante, Thomas

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Where picks happen faster and this author scrambles to keep up

Note: Rather than clutter the page with seven posts today, I’ll group the third, fourth and fifth round picks here then create a seperate running post for rounds 6-10.

MLB Draft Tracker

Round 3 (#96) - Tony Locey, RHP, University of Georgia

With their first pick on Day Two and the 96th pick overall, the Cardinals selected right handed pitcher Tony Locey. Locey is a junior from the University of Georgia, where he has both started and relieved. Reports have Locey’s fastball sitting 92-95 as a starter and up to 96-98 out of the pen, along with a hard slider that flashes plus.

Tony Locey hails from Houston County, Georgia, where he attended Warner Robbins HS and shared the field with Orioles prospect DL Hall and Bulldogs QB Jake Fromm. He didn’t garner as much attention as those two, going undrafted before making his way to Athens. As a freshman and a sophomore, he worked mainly out of the bullpen. He has always carried big velocity, but his inconsistent slider and command struggles prevented him from stepping into a larger role.

In 2017 he pitched well for the Brewster Whitecaps on the Cape, improving his strikeout and walk rates from his freshman year over 36 innings. He consolidated the gains as a featured bullpen piece in 2018, leading to a shot in the Sunday rotation spot as a junior. In 14 starts, Locey ran a solid 9.50 K/9 while walking a troubling 4.76 BB/9 en route to a 2.55 ERA in the SEC.

Industry consensus seems to be that he’ll get a chance to start, but his ultimate home is probably the bullpen. His fastball is an easy plus pitch, but the secondaries beyond his slider are fringey. Couple that with his suspect but improving command, and you’ve got a big fastball/slider setup piece with a chance to pitch at the back of a big league bullpen.

Round 4 (#125) - Andre Pallante, RHP, UC Irvine

The club stuck with a pitcher here, selecting UC Irvine Friday-night starter Andre Pallante.

Pallante is similar to Locey, in that he went undrafted out of high school and some scouts project him to the bullpen. Pallante, however, has a better chance to start at the next level. He pitched out of the bullpen in 2017 before moving to the rotation and gaining All-American honors in 2018. His strikeouts have ticked down a bit in 2019, but his walk rate has remained stable. It’s worth noting that he’s young for a college junior and won’t turn 21 until September.

Stuff wise, his fastball work in the 91-94 range with natural cut and a bit of sink at times. He can crank it up to 97 out of the bullpen, boding well for him should he be unable to stick in the rotation. He throws two breaking balls, a slider and a curve, with the slider being ahead of the curve right now. Scouts think he should embrace the curve going forward to give a different look off his fastball, and it could be a 55 slider 50 curve combo with development. His change is fringe average but he knows how to use it, giving him a four pitch mix to attack hitters with.

Mechanically, his delivery is where most scouts differ over his ultimate role. He’s throws from a a high 34 arm slot with a high lead arm, not dissimilar from former Flores draftee Zac Gallen, with a slight stab in the back of his arm action. He repeats his delivery well, however, and pounds the strike zone relentlessly. He’s walked just 2.68 and 2.77 BB/9 over the last two seasons and has been a model of durability for the Anteaters.

If it all comes together, he has #4 starter upside.

Round 5 (#155) - Connor Thomas, LHP, Georgia Tech

Another pick, another college pitcher. The #155th pick has been used on Connor Thomas, a left hander junior starter out of Georgia Tech.

If the Cardinals have a history of succeeding with college hitters whose skills make their light tools play up, Connor Thomas is the pitching version. Thomas is a slight lefty, standing just 5’11, and his fastball tops out at just 90mph. That’s the bad. The good is that the rest of his profile is a plus, and he has a track record of performance in the ACC.

Thomas gets the most out of his meager fastball thanks to plus command, skillfully using the heater to set up his secondaries. His repertoire consists of a vertical tilting slider that flashes plus and a changeup that grades out as consistently above-average. He’s been robotic as a starter, walking just 1.60 BB/9 in three years of ACC play. I’m sure it’ll get mentioned in the comments so here it is - this is the kind of “who?” rookie lefty that no hits the Cardinals.