There’s not a whole lot to write about right now. The current St. Louis Cardinals roster contains a lot of players who won’t be long term fixtures of this team and may not even be a part of this team next season. So today I figured it would be more interesting to turn our attention to the early performances of the Cardinals draft picks this season.
It’s now been over a month since drafted players began to officially suit up with their professional organizations which means that we can now take a look at how well these players have started their careers.
1st Round - Chase Davis
As you can see, Chase Davis has struggled a bit in his pro debut. In fact, not much has gone right for him as he’s striking out at a higher than average clip, hitting for a low average, and not hitting for any power. Really the only thing he has going for him is a great walk rate and that’s been enough to keep his overall production at least somewhat respectable even if it’s still well below average.
But we shouldn’t freak out over 98 plate appearances. This is simply a lesson in patience. Palm Beach games are almost never televised but I was able to watch Chase Davis play a few times when he faced the St. Lucie Mets and one thing stood out to me immediately - he mishit everything. And now keep in mind that when I say that I’m talking about a four-game sample using only the eye test but I watched Chase Davis simply mishit pitches that he crushed in college.
Fastballs down the middle became pitches that he got under and fouled off behind him or to the opposite field and every time I watched him swing, it looked like he was a few centimeters away from squaring something up and showing the power that he’s known for.
That’s not a concern for me at this point. It isn’t too shocking to see a player have timing issues and have some struggles upon facing professional pitching for the first time. Davis could simply be pressing too much, he could simply be slumping, or he could simply not be used to playing baseball for so long as he’s already played a full college season this year.
His struggles don’t change anything for me yet but I am curious to see how he adjusts and what he can do after a full offseason of work.
Defensively, Chase Davis has spent all his time at center field and has DHed a few games as well. He does have a legitimate chance at sticking up the middle which, obviously, makes him a more valuable player.
3rd Round - Travis Honeyman
Travis Honeyman has yet to debut which makes me think he has some kind of injury since every other hitter selected by the Cardinals has already played this season. That’s just speculation of course but the Cardinals were aggressive with getting their hitting prospects into games as early as possible this year and Honeyman has been the exception.
4th Round - Quinn Mathews
Like Honeyman, Mathews also hasn’t taken the field for his professional organization yet but that’s to be expected considering that he threw 124.2 innings with Stanford this year.
5th Round - Zach Levenson
Unlike Chase Davis, Zach Levenson’s professional career has gotten off to a great start. The slugging outfielder is showing his power without striking out too much, all while drawing a nearly double digit walk rate.
Defensively, Levenson has spent most of his time in left field but he has played some right field and some center field too. He profiles as a corner guy going forward so I wouldn’t expect to see him play much center field outside of Palm Beach.
6th Round - Jason Savacool
Jason Savacool only got into 4 games with Palm Beach before getting sent down to the FCL Cardinals, which was simply a move to end his season and get him off the Palm Beach roster. His four games didn’t go well with him walking 5 batters and giving up 2 homers in just 5.2 innings but that’s still way too small of a sample to give us any worthwhile information.
I wasn’t high on Savacool coming out of college but that doesn’t really mean much at this stage as Savacool has a whole career and plenty of development time in front of him so I am excited to see how he fares next season.
He threw 96 innings in college this year, so his 5.2 innings with Palm Beach put him just over the 100 inning threshold on the year.
7th Round - Charles Harrison
Charles Harrison has yet to get into any games which normally wouldn’t be too surprising considering how cautious the Cardinals tend to be with freshly drafted pitchers but Harrison only threw 26 innings in college this year.
Because of the low innings total I did expect to see Harrison get into some games but there could be some injury concerns with him that have kept him off the mound or perhaps the Cardinals wanted to work on some things with him outside of a game setting. There are a lot of possibilities.
Harrison is part of the trio of pitchers taken in rounds 7-9 that I’m excited about so I am looking forward to seeing him on the mound whenever he does make his professional debut.
8th Round - Ixan Henderson
Like Savacool, Henderson only got into a handful of games before getting sent down to the complex league, signalling that his season is likely over. He did show some good stuff in his 4 outings, though, even striking out the side on 12 pitches in his second outing.
Here’s video of his slider and then his changeup, courtesy of Kyle Reis on Twitter.
Ixan Henderson goes to his 77 mph slider to get the lefty swinging for another strikeout. Really impressive inning for the Cardinals' 8th rounder this year pic.twitter.com/S3NOfg90XA— Kyle Reis, 58% Neanderthal (@kyler416) August 11, 2023
HEY!! Here's my first Ixan Henderson gif!! He goes to his changeup to get the swinging strikeout pic.twitter.com/6HGjolcwJu— Kyle Reis, 58% Neanderthal (@kyler416) August 11, 2023
I like Henderson a lot and I’m excited to see him in a full minor league season.
9th Round - Christian Worley
Christian Worley hasn’t taken the mound yet and this time we know for sure that it’s because of injury, and, I believe, Tommy John surgery.
Worley had the arm talent to get picked much earlier but the arm injury and lack of production (in part due to the arm injury that kept him off the mound this year) caused him to fall to the 9th round where the Cardinals were able to snap him up at a good value.
He’s another guy that I’m excited to watch in the Cardinals system.
11th Round - Dakota Harris
(You’ll note that I didn’t list a 10th round pick and that’s because Carson Kendle, the player the Cardinals selected in the 10th round, didn’t sign with the team and will return to college.)
Nothing really jumps off the page here as Harris has healthy enough walk and strikeout rates but hasn’t hit for much power and that’s the kind of player that he is. Harris is a solid all around player that seems to have great feel for the game but no standout tools.
For an 11th round pick, that a solid guy to grab.
Defensively, Harris has spent all his time at shortstop so far but I would expect him to gain some versatility moving forward.
99 mph off of the bat of Cardinals' 11th round pick Dakota Harris and down the third base line for a double pic.twitter.com/75OgKZ9YXu— Kyle Reis, 58% Neanderthal (@kyler416) August 10, 2023
Really nice scoop and throw at short by Dakota Harris pic.twitter.com/fyduK4v8O8— Kyle Reis, 58% Neanderthal (@kyler416) August 9, 2023
12th Round - Brayden Jobert
Jobert’s line looks a lot like Chase Davis’ - a lot of walks, a lot of Ks, and an uncharacteristic lack of power. Power is the standout tool for Jobert as he regularly hit balls between 100 and 110 mph with LSU but he does have some swing-and-miss in his game and may be defensively limited.
So I expect to see Jobert hit for more power but I am curious to see how his hit tool plays in pro ball. The lefty slugger (and righty thrower) has spent most of him time at first base so far, and that’s where he probably profiles best going forward, but has also seen time in third base, left field, and right field. There would obviously be a lot less pressure on Jobert’s bat if he could stick at a non-1B corner position but any guy who hits the ball as hard as Jobert does is an interesting player, and especially so late in the draft.
13th Round - William Sullivan
Though he was taken a round later, I actually liked the Sullivan pick more than the Jobert pick, though I did like the Jobert pick as well. The reason is because Sullivan actually has more pop in his bat than Jobert. In fact, Sullivan actually had a better maximum exit velocity (118 mph) than Chase Davis (117 mph) in college.
Sullivan has been a much better hitter than Jobert and Davis in his first exposure to pro ball but that honestly means nothing to me at this point. It’s great to see him having success and I really just want to highlight that Sullivan can hit the ball really hard, broke out in is senior year, and is a fun late round pick to follow going forward.
Hard Hittin William Sullivan slices one to the right of the centerfielder for a dubyo.— Kyle Reis, 58% Neanderthal (@kyler416) August 8, 2023
Sullivan looooooooooooves to find him a barrel and get dat exit velo, bae. This one was 107 mph pic.twitter.com/n74BwwexU3
The downside is that he profiles as a 1B/DH going forward so that will put some pressure on his bat going forward. But, hey, in the 13th round, who really cares?
14th Round - Jacob Odle
Jacob Odle made only two appearances with the Cardinals rookie ball affiliate and is probably not going to pitch in Single-A this year so I would expect that his season is done.
2 innings isn’t much of a sample to look at but I’ll tell you that Odle has really good stuff and bad command/control. And when I say good stuff, I mean good stuff. His fastball has touched 99 and sits in the mid 90s with a ton of ride and spin. He pairs it with an 88-92 mph cutter and a curveball. From the limited video I’ve seen, he may also throw a slider that’s distinct from the cutter but it’s hard to tell.
Basically, though, he has great fastball metrics, a good looking curveball (when he controls it) and other pitches with velocity that profile well. His control is, quite frankly, all over the place and there’s a risk that he never reigns it in enough to be an effective pitcher but that’s a pretty good gamble to take in the 14th round.
Beyond thankful for the opportunity to compete in the @mlbdraftleague playing for the @SCSpikes. I’ve grown so much as a player in these last 5 weeks and can’t wait to see what the future holds!— Jacob Odle (@JacobOdle5) July 7, 2023
FB 95-98 T99
CB 79-82 pic.twitter.com/HCEcYHtgMg
I would expect the Cardinals to bring Odle along slowly and I would also expect him to pitch in rookie ball for most or all of next season too. Regardless, considering where Odle was selected, this is a pick that I really liked and I can’t wait to see more of him.
15th Round - Tre Richardson
It’s been a rough professional debut for Tre Richardson and while his early stats mean practically nothing, I do have some questions about his ability to impact the baseball. That’s to be expected for a 15th round second baseman who weighs in at a whopping 165 pounds.
Richardson is athletic and did make some nice plays in the few Palm Beach games that I was able to watch so I do think he can be a really solid second baseman going forward. Regardless of the on-field profile, though, Richardson is just a really fun player. He’s fun to watch and he has a fun personality and he’s easy to like even looking beyond the statistical profile.
One of my favorite stores during the draft was learning that Richardson hit 3 home runs, including 2 grand slams, in the same game with TCU and, when asked about what he did differently that led to the offensive outburst, he said that he ate at IHOP. That sparked the “Tre Winning Trio”.
To congratulate star second baseman, @_trerichardson_, on a record-setting season, IHOP is celebrating #TreDay this Wed. July 12th. For one day only, we’ll offer the “Tre Winning Trio” ft. our new Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake Pancake Tacos + SIX pieces of bacon! See below pic.twitter.com/B9HFtAmHpU— IHOP (@IHOP) July 10, 2023
16th Round - Tyler Bradt
Yeah so those numbers are terrible. Bradt walked 9 and gave up 2 homers in just 6.1 innings in his professional debut and yet that ERA is only a touch above the 8.10 ERA he had with ECU this year. So why did the Cardinals pick him? Basically, it was an upside play. Bradt has pretty good stuff so in the 16th round when so few players turn into big leaguers it’s worth betting on stuff and trying to make tweaks to help him figure it out.
I’m fine with the pick in principle and I would love to see Bradt be able to use his stuff successfully. He throws a fastball with carry and a power slider which gives him promise but it remains to be seen if he will have success in pro ball.
Bradt is a fun experiment to watch next year as I imagine he’s done pitching this season.
16th round pick Tyler Bradt rings up his first strikeout of the night with a 93 mph elevated fastball pic.twitter.com/bl2IYFrdR7— Kyle Reis, 58% Neanderthal (@kyler416) August 9, 2023
17th Round - Trey Paige
Those stats are Rough. With a capital R. But who cares about a 45 PA sample anyways? Paige is a 22-year-old small college hitter taken in the 17th round so it’s tough to tell how much promise he truly has. With that said, Paige does have a bit of pop and he finished his career with more walks than strikeouts. I also like his swing so there are some things to like with Paige.
17th rounder Trey Paige rips one 103.4 mph off of the lefty for a single.— Kyle Reis, 58% Neanderthal (@kyler416) July 23, 2023
Gotta love Paige's easy and compact swing pic.twitter.com/hDJT8JNYaw
The lefty hitter was actually planing to transfer to Kentucky prior to getting drafted, too, so his big season with Delaware State had big school taking notice of him. Defensively Paige has split his time evenly between second and third base in his 15 games and while I do expect him to have a bit of a utility profile going forward, I would guess that third base will be his primary position.
18th Round - Hunter Kublick
Another pitcher, another guy with basically no stats from this year. The difference with Kublick is that he was a JuCo draftee and I haven’t been able to find any video of him. I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to learn more about him.
Who doesn’t love a mystery man?
19th Round - Graysen Tarlow
That’s a heavily OBP-boosted batting line but Tarlow is another guy who’s no stranger to walking more than he strikes out, at least while he was in college. The catcher doesn’t have a ton of pop and “only” had good but not great production in college with Cal State Northridge but he did hit the ball really well in the summer league circuit which gives him some extra intrigue.
Tarlow also threw out 40.1% of attempted base stealers in his final year at CSUN but has only thrown out 1 of 11 attempted base stealers in Palm Beach. I would expect that to improve.
It’s still much too early to draw any conclusions, or even change our opinions of these prospects, but it is fun to see the Cardinals most recent draft class give us some professional statistics to analyze.
I called out some of the picks I liked specifically and while I’m super interested to see how those players develop, I’ll be paying attention to everyone the Cardinals selected; this is just our first look at them since the draft.
Thanks for reading, VEB. Enjoy your Sunday.