Each year following the draft there are players who sign as free agents. The St. Louis Cardinals generally have good luck with these ventures; most recently, Tommy Parsons is a name that comes to mind. Parsons has shot through the minors after going undrafted out of Adrian College.
In a year with only a five-round draft, those UDFA’s could prove more fruitful than a regular year. The Cardinals were active on the market, signing a handful of players.
With each signing comes the equal opportunity for misses, especially since the maximum offer a team could make to UDFA’s was 20k. A lot of these misses will go unnoticed and unknown, but when information surfaces about one of them it’s hard not to take a moment to look at what could’ve been.
It just so happens that a name the Cardinals offered and didn’t sign has been dropped. Iowa IF Izaya Fullard chose to return to school rather than turn pro.
Former Iowa City West prep and current Iowa Hawkeye Izaya Fullard told me this morning that St. Louis Cardinals offered to sign him as non-drafted free agent, but he wants one more chance to do good/great things with Iowa. Would've been MLB drafted for sure in normal year.— Jeff Johnson (@jeje66) July 16, 2020
As Jeff Johnson points out, Fullard would’ve been taken if the draft had more than five rounds. It seems that it would’ve been a great get for St. Louis, too. Prior to the cancellation of the 2020 season, the Redshirt Junior was slashing .400/.449/.583 in 15 games. His career in the Big 10 is 67 games where he’s slashed .328/.449/.583 with 7 homers and 7 steals. Perhaps even more impressive, in his short 2020 stint he racked up 21 RBI, which compares to 31 RBI in 52 games the year prior.
Perhaps the most important part of this is that Fullard’s nickname is ‘Meat Patty’.
Okay, back to baseball. Fullard’s swing is smooth, easy, and simple, as you can see below with him going deep against Nebraska.
IZAYA FULLARD'S TURN!— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 20, 2019
He keeps the two-out rally going with a bomb to straightaway center field! Iowa extends its lead to 7-3! @IzayaFullard23 | #Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/MIBiO4c7Kc
And yes, he can get it done on the dirt as well.
FLASH THE LEATHER!@UIBaseball's Izaya Fullard keeps the Spartans from tying it up with some spectacular glove work! pic.twitter.com/kBbg6MkPnH— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) May 11, 2019
So, if you’ve made it this far you may be wondering why I took the time out of my day to throw together a profile on a player the Cardinals did not sign. Believe it or not, there’s a real answer to that quandary.
The first reason, of course, being the natural curiosity to see what almost was. But the main reason I thought this information was worth your time is because there’s another draft coming up in less than a year and the Cardinals will have draft picks. They clearly like this guy. Even if he winds up on a different team, it just adds to our knowledge of what kind of player the team likes.
One last thing to think about is that UFDA hitters that the Cardinals signed were all from small colleges. None came from Division 1 program. Pitchers did, but no hitters. This makes would’ve broken that pattern.
Alas, Fullard wants to prove himself more at Iowa, a very respectable decision. I wish nothing for the best for him, and frankly I’m a fan so hopefully the Cardinals target him again next June.