As day three of the MLB draft dawns, there will actually be a little real excitement to be had early on, before the draft settles into its final, monotonous form, that of disembodied voices over a conference call announcing, “Redraft, number 550826, such and such player from such and such school,” with the name and often even the school being utterly anonymous to 99% of us, even those who really care about the draft.
However, for the first couple rounds today, rounds eleven and twelve, we may once again see some modestly exciting players selected. I say modestly because, as a Cardinal fan, there is very little chance I will hear my team call the names of any of the players I really, truly covet at this point, even with the post-tenth round uptick in excitement. The Cards too two very exciting players with their first two picks, and one more real shot at upside in the seventh round with a high school pitcher who has a chance to be really good, and there is really no more room in the budget to take any shots, even with the $125K buffer and complete lack of risk the eleventh round and beyond offer.
That being said, there are some extremely intriguing players still on the board, should some enterprising team have the budget space to take a run at them. Two of my favourite pitchers in the entire draft are still, in fact, available; Chase Burns, the big high school right-hander from Tennessee with the elite fastball and plus, but still unsettled, curveball, and Gage Jump, the undersized lefty with the elite measurables, are both still on the board. (Actually, three of my favourites are still available, as Josh Hartle, a big slinging lefty from North Carolina is also on the board, but he told teams even before the draft he was honouring his college commitment.) Peyton Stovall, the ultra-gifted left-handed hitter and defensive question mark, has announced he will be heading off to Arkansas in the autumn.
Some names to definitely watch include Alex Mooney, a cold-weather shortstop (Michigan), with excellent on-base skills and a frame that could handle some added size and power, Isaiah Thomas, a rangy outfielder with improving offensive skills out of Vanderbilt, Braylon Bishop, a superb athlete who was in my initial favourites writeup on the hitting side back in early spring this year, and Jonathan Cannon, an eligible sophomore right-hander out of Georgia who has a power sinker-plus changeup combo but no real breaking ball to speak of.
Probably the player I’m actually most hopeful to see the Redbirds target at this point is Bryce McGowan, a 6’1” right-handed pitcher out of UNC Charlotte. McGowan has power stuff, up to 96 with the fastball, good ability to spin two breaking balls, and what I personally think is a hugely underrated and potentially excellent changeup. I’m shocked he’s still on the board, and he would be quite a coup in my eyes to come away with in round eleven. If you’re looking for a name on the position side, Nick Biddison is a second base/utility prospect out of Virginia Tech with plus or better speed, very good patience at the plate, and an above-average hit tool, but who struggled this spring coming back from shoulder surgery and saw his draft stock take a hit in the process.
I’ll have analysis of all the Cardinals’ picks coming soon, probably in a few separate posts, but we’ll see how it goes. Until then, hopefully everyone will enjoy the rest of the draft. Day three is always kind of a weird time, but it will be interesting this year to see how things turn out with only ten rounds to blitz through, rather than the previous 30 or even 40, going back a few more years.