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How are the 2018 draftees doing?

An update on their progress

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals highest pick in the 2017 MLB draft was in the 3rd round, so any analysis of that draft has to be looked at under that scope. No such disclaimer needed for last year’s draft. We are coming upon the last games of the minor league season, which means that 2018 draftees now have two full seasons under their belt. Well they have a short season and a full season, or possibly two short seasons depending on their level this year. There is about a week to go until most minor league levels end, sooner for a few, so the stats you’ll see are essentially the stats they’ll have at the end of the year, give or take an 0-30 slump or a player who goes on a home run streak.

The Standouts

Nolan Gorman, 19th overall pick, 3B

Stats - A: .241/.344/.448, 127 wRC+, .312 BABIP, .207 ISO; A+: .256/.305/.437, 119 wRC+, .181 ISO

One must understand park effects for these stats to look impressive. Neither Peoria nor Palm Beach are very favorable for hitters, especially so in Palm Beach. Nobody has any power in Palm Beach.

Brendan Donovan, 7th round, 2B

Stats - A: 447 PAs, .271/.379/.415, 134 wRC+, 12.8 BB%, 19.5 K%, .330 BABIP

One of the downsides of having the High A level be notoriously difficult for hitters is that players like Donovan, who is dominating at a level where he’s a bit old (22), aren’t getting promoted probably specifically so he doesn’t get sucked into a black hole. Donovan was drafted as an outfielder, but has played exclusively at 2B this year, so maybe that has something to do with it as well.

Lars Nootbar, 8th round, LF/RF

Stats - A: 122 PAs, 127 wRC+, .239 BABIP; A+: 155 PAs, 104 wRC+, .063 ISO; AA: 102 PAs, 99 wRC+, .045 ISO

On the other side of the coin, there’s players like Nootbar. He enjoyed moderate success at Palm Beach with next to no power, and was promoted as quick as possible. He has had worse power at Springfield, but in only 30 games, and he’s remedied that with 16 BBs to 21 Ks in 102 PAs, which is excellent.

Michael Baird, 23rd round, P

Stats - A: 11.2 IP, 33.3 K%, 7.7 BB%, 0.00 ERA, 1.76 FIP; A: 28 K%, 6 BB%, 1.54 ERA, 1.82 FIP; A+: 28.7 K%, 7.5 BB%, 1.50 ERA, 2.61 FIP

I wonder if the Cardinals are regretting the decision to send him back to State College this year after last year’s strong performance. Baird turned 24 in July, which is probably why the Cards didn’t believe in him, but he has just kept getting promoted and kept dominating this year.

Perry DellaVelle, 27th round, SP

Stats - A+: 106.1 IP, 20.6 K% 5.5 BB%, 3.22 ERA, 3.24 FIP

From Baird until DellaVelle, the Cardinals selected a string off 22-year-old pitchers in a row. DellaVelle was sent to the GCL where he posted a 36.2 K% and 3.8 BB% against mostly teenagers. The Cards were impressed and sent him all the way to Palm Beach this year. He has held his own, posting a respectable if unimpressive strikeout rate while not walking many. Good 27th round pick here.

Justin Toerner, 28th round, OF

Stats - A+: 236 PAs, .290/.403/.389, 142 wRC+, 14 BB%; AA: 199 PAs, .211/.338/.367, 104 wRC+, .269 BABIP

Toerner spent most of last year in State College, destroyed the world in Peoria for 7 games, and kept hitting when he ended the year in Palm Beach. Palm Beach proved not difficult this year for the then 22-year-old (recently turned 23). He’s had a bit more trouble in Springfield, but is still walking 14% of the time and has an above average line overall.

Promising Starts

Luken Baker, 75th overall pick, 1B

Stats - A+: 487 PAs, .241/.324/.382, 112 wRC+, .304 BABIP, .141 ISO, 10.5 BB%

Baker is 22 and a 1B, so I can’t quite put slightly above average stats in the standout category, but it’s still encouraging. He essentially has the same batted ball profile as last year, power included, except he’s at a tougher park and also has a BABIP 50 points lower.

Mateo Gil, 3rd round, SS

Stats - JC: 220 PAs, .276/.332/.442, 111 wRC+, .343 BABIP, 7.7 BB%, .166 ISO

Gil was actually drafted at 17, though he turned 18 a month later. Still, 2019 is technically his age 18 season. In the GCL last year, he held his own offensively, with a 94 wRC+. At Johnson City, he’s improved in virtually every category except for BB rate (which was 10% last year)

Edgar Gonzalez, 6th round, RHP

Stats - A+: 115.1 IP, 20.7 K%, 12.2 BB%, 51 GB%, 5.23 ERA, 3.93 FIP, .373 BABIP

Gonzalez misses bats fine, but when they do make contact, it’s usually a hit. He had a .408 BABIP against last year at State College and a .373 BABIP this year. Not sure what to make of that. That and the walks and you could argue he shouldn’t be here, but I’m giving him extra credit for skipping a level this year.

Andrew Warner, 40th round, OF

Stats - A-: 168 PAs, .254/.369/.465, 151 wRC+, 13.1 BB%, .211 ISO

He’s 23 and clearly a bench player but doing what he can with the playing time he’s given. He has strikes out 33.3% of the time so he should probably be a mixed bag but he was born on my birthday so I’m oddly sympathetic to him.

Mixed Bag

Nick Dunn, 5th round, 2B

Stats - A+: 401 PAs, .241/.287/.330, 82 wRC+, 6 BB%, .271 BABIP, .089 ISO

The 22-year-old had a pretty great first 59 games of professional ball at State College last year, with a 125 wRC+ on the back of a .291 BABIP and very few strikeouts (9.1 K%). He curiously skipped Peoria to go to Palm Beach, which does not appear to be a great decision, given the above stats.

Matt Duce, 9th round, C

Stats - A-: .307/.373/.447, 147 wRC+, .140 ISO, .368 BABIP

You might be wondering why those stats are in this group? Well, he’s repeating State College after a pretty bad showing last year. How bad? Combine it with this year’s stats and he has a 109 wRC+. He’s also 23. He should have done this last year.

Francisco Justo, 12th round, RHP

Stats - JC: 19.9 K%, 5.6 BB%, 3.83 ERA, 3.99 FIP

This is probably leaning closer to a promising start, with him being 20, but there’s not really a whole lot statistically to get excited about here. He’s doing just enough to get promoted one level each year.

Colin Schmid, 13th round, RHP

Stats - A: 101 IP, 20.9 K%, 9 BB%, 4.63 ERA, 3.91 FIP

I’ll give Schmid credit here - he wasn’t very good at Johnson City last year. Whether due to scouting or just needing to promote someone, Schmid skipped to Peoria and has pitched better at two levels above last year. His stats are fine, not bad now.

Evan Sisk, 16th round, RHP

Stats - A: 58.2 IP, 22.1 K%, 10.2 BB%, 3.38 ERA, 3.79 FIP

Unfortunately, he’s a reliever only prospect, which makes these stats seem much less impressive.

Kyle Leahy, 17th round, SP

Stats - A: 90 IP, 22.2 K%, 6 BB%, 3.00 ERA, 3.07 FIP; A+: 24 IP, 13.3 K%, 8.4 BB%, 6.30 ERA, 4.55 FIP

Pretty much the definition of a mixed bag here. He had not very good stats at Johnson City last year, an injury forced his way onto Peoria’s roster, pretty thoroughly dominated at Peoria, and has been terrible at Palm Beach in six starts.

Cole Aker, 18th round, RHP

Stats - A: 46.2 IP, 28.1 K%, 21.2 BB%, 6.17 ERA, 5.85 FIP; A+: 20 K%, 7.5 BB%, 2.14 ERA, 2.79 FIP

Aker began the year in the Peoria rotation, was about as bad as you can be, moved to the bullpen after eight starts, struck out over 30% of batters in the bullpen (paired with a high walk rate), and got promoted to Palm Beach where he has both stop striking hitters out as much and stopped walking batters.

Parker Kelly, 20th round, RHP

Stats - A: 20 K%, 5.8 BB%, 4.20 ERA, 3.64 FIP

Kelly didn’t strike out many in Johnson City last year out of the bullpen exclusively. He has gotten 7 starts in Peoria to go along with 12 games in the bullpen and has improved upon that strikeout rate while maintaining the low BB rate.

Kevin Vargas, 22nd round, 2B/SS

Stats: JC: 95 PAs, .238/.333/.275, 81 wRC+, 9.5 BB%, .038 ISO

Vargas is 19-years-old and I’m giving him some credit here. At the GCL last year, Vargas struck out 30.8% of the time with a swinging strike% of 39.6. This year, at Johnson City, those numbers are 22.1 K% and 18.5 SwSt%. He’s going to need power, but also 19.

Eli Kraus, 23rd round, LHP

Stats - A- 22.6 K%, 9.7 BB%, 3.86 ERA, 2.69 FIP, A: 21 K%, 8.1 BB%, 5.79 ERA, 4.95 FIP; A+: 4 IP, 4 Ks, 0.00 ERA, 1.31 FIP

What a bizarre season he’s had. His first innings pitched were at Palm Beach, then he went down to State College, pitched pretty well, and then went to Peoria. He has not been good there.

Connor Coward, 26th round, RHP

Stats - JC: 12 IP, 20.9 K%, 7 BB%, 0.00 ERA, 2.76 FIP; A: 8.1 IP, 29 K%, 10.5 BB%, 3.24 ERA, 5.73 FIP, 3.89 xFIP

He’s 23-years-old and bullpen-only this year. He didn’t strike out many at Johnson City, and now has traded strikeouts for more walks and allowing very few groundballs. But it’s also 8 innings so who knows.

Brandon Purcell, 32nd round, C

I have no idea where to put him since nothing about his stats is a mixed bag, but he’s also 25 and barely plays. He’s played in 12 games all year.

Liam Sabino, 35th round, IF

Stats - JC: 205 PAs, .282/.385/.471, 137 wRC+, .371 BABIP, 12.2 BB%, .190 ISO

Hate to spoil the fun, but Sabino is 23 in Johnson City. Most of the other 30th rounders got released so he’s clearly past expected.

Need to improve

Griffin Roberts, 43rd pick, RHP

Stats - A+: 60.2 IP, 10.2 K%, 11.5 BB%, 6.82 ERA, 5.49 FIP

It’s looking like a bad idea to start him in Palm Beach. Yowzer those are bad numbers.

Brandon Riley, 14th round, OF

Stats - .230/.316/.302, 85 wRC+, .072 ISO

Riley was interesting last year when he walked twice as much as he struck out (21.3 BB% to 12.8 K%) in Johnson City, but he strikeout to walk numbers are more normal now and he has absolutely no power.

Mike Brettell, 15th round, RHP

Stats - 15 K%, 8.9 BB%, 5.15 ERA, 4.71 FIP

Typically, guys who don’t strike out batters and walk a lot of batters aren’t very successful.

Josh Shaw, 19th round, IF

Stats - A: 278 PAs, .225/.295/.277, 72 wRC+, .051 ISO, 7.2 BB%

He isn’t a full-time player, so I’m guessing he’s minor league depth.

Michael Perri, 21st round, SS

Stats - A+: 242 PAs, .232/.283/.308, 78 wRC+; AA: 47 PAs, .156/.191/.156, -4 wRC+

I got to be honest. I have no idea why this guy was in Springfield. He had an 88 wRC+ in his first 42 games, was promoted to Springfield, tanked hard, and has gotten worse at Palm Beach.

Cole Krueter, 36th round, OF

Pretty pointless to post his stats. He is for some reason in Palm Beach right now, but he’s the benchiest bench player that ever bench. 24 total games played this year.

Zach Gahagan, 39th round, UT

Stats - A+: 137 PAs, 82 wRC+

I’m honestly not sure why I didn’t just stop at 30, this guy for some reason was put in Palm Beach and has been basically fine, but doesn’t play very often so he’s clearly minor league depth.

Missing in Action

Steven Gingery, 4th round, LHP

Gingery underwent Tommy John surgery in February before he was drafted, and I have to think it’s not terribly encouraging he returned for 0.2 bad innings in late July and hasn’t pitched since.

Kevin Woodall, 10th round, 1B/OF

Though a bit old (23), he killed the competition at Johnson City last year (149 wRC+ in 30 games), got promoted and faltered at State College (68 wRC+ in 18 games). He has played in in one game this year.

Chris Holba, 11th round, RHP

Pretty respectable debut last year at State College (3.74 FIP) and he has not pitched at all this year.

Troy Montemayor, 25th round, RHP

His stats at State College weren’t that bad, but he was released before the season.

Alerick Soularie, 29th round, SS

Signed with Tennessee, he is currently All-SEC First Team so Cardinals’ loss here. Not entirely sure how he’s currently a sophomore.

Kendrick Calilao, 30th round, OF

Signed with the Florida Gators, was named to the All-SEC Freshmen team. From what I know of college stats, his .276/.348/.401 is only fine, but he’s also a freshman.

Ty Cohen, 31st round, RHP


Chris Rivera, 33rd round, RHP

What I’m learning is that if you’re put in the GCL bullpen out of college, you’re probably getting released.

Benito Santiago, 34th round, C

His stated level right now is “assigned to a new level” and his last update was “assigned to Cardinals Extended Spring Training in June, so it kind of seems like they drafted him to be a bullpen catcher or something.

Christian Caudle, 37th round, C

His Twitter bio says “was a professional baseball player for 11 days” which coincidentally would also be my twitter bio if I was signed for any number of days.

Jaden Hill, 38th round, OF

How in the hell did this thing used to be 62 rounds? The Cardinals could have picked me in the 39th round and it would make as much difference. This guy signed with LSU.

Well this was too many words. Reasonably good draft