Things I like:
The focus on high upside position player talent:
The Cardinals switched gears from the way the draft has been run in recent years and went hard after high risk, high upside talent, specifically bats. I've been beating the drum for most of the last 8 months about how poor the farm system is right now in quality offensive players throughout, with much of the real potential years away in short season and rookie leagues.
This was a concern, because as we discussed on the podcast, this wasn't a draft with a boatload of quality college bats, which is generally where you address a shortage of offense in the high minors if you want to do it quickly. The issue with doing that, of course, is similar to the issue of filling your college football program with a bunch of JUCO players: You can get a boost for a couple of years, but it short circuits the development of the overall farm. Couple that with a lack of high floor bats and you get a potentially awful situation that could set your farm system back a couple of years (indeed, this is kind of what happened to the Brewers and Reds farm systems in recent years, and I'm hoping the Cardinals are able to avoid this fate.)
Sometimes, the best thing to do in this situation is go against conventional wisdom, and that's exactly what the Cardinals have done here in drafting high upside high schoolers early to try and add some real talent to the minor league system.
Is this is change in overall philosophy or a direct result of the players available in this draft? It's hard to say at this point, but I'll shoot the gap and just say that it's a mix of both, especially considering that the trademark picks of players in Division II/Division III/NAIA that nobody has ever heard of are still there.
Probably my favorite pick in the draft if I'm being honest. Not because he's the best player, mind you, but because he's a legit stick and has the utility to fill a whole slew of positions that the Cardinals need everywhere in the farm system. He played college ball at Illinois State, but more importantly (and I can't believe I overlooked this in my draft prep), played in the wood bat Northwoods League last summer.
The Cardinals are known for heavily scouting the Cape Cod League and for taking college players who play well there higher than they may be projected to go in the ensuing draft 10 months later. The Northwoods League is similar to the Cape Cod, not nearly as well known or stocked with talent, but has a really good track record of turning out high end college talent that reaches the upper levels of the minors and the big leagues. Allen Craig played a summer there, as did Xavier Scruggs, Daniel Descalso, and Greg Garcia. If you want to have some fun this afternoon check out the alumni roster, sorted by peak level of professional baseball. Some pretty good names on that list.
DeJong played C, 3B, LF, RF, 1B, and 2B in the Northwoods last year. I think the Cardinals will try him out behind the plate right out of the gate, but if there was one guy who could turn into a version of Steven Vogt, a late bloomer in the Athletic's system, it's DeJong.
I love this pick and I can't wait to see him land at State College or Peoria and start raking.
Things I'm confused by:
Drafting high end talent in rounds 8 & 10:
RB noted this in his post yesterday, and it just doesn't make any f***ing sense to me at all. Why take Kep Brown in the 10th round and not the 11th? The same goes for prep standout Ian Oxnevad in the 8th round. Jenner and Andrew Brodbeck fit the mold of those rounds much more, as they will likely sign quickly and sign for less than slot, which is the whole game theory of the draft these days, in that you want to save as much money as possible when the opportunity cost is lower. Brown certainly isn't going to sign for the ~$600k they can offer him as a 10th, and neither is Oxnevad likely to sign for the ~$750k or so they can offer him in the 8th round slot.
The worst part is that the Cardinals literally cannot sign both of them, if the signability concerns have any merit (and why wouldn't they if both players fell that far in the draft?) which means they're going to lose the slot money from those two players, money that could have been banked by going with college seniors (who the Cardinals have had a good track record of success with anyway) there to ensure that all the high-upside players in the first few rounds get signed, even if the team has to go over slot to do so. If you take both of those guys in the 11th and 12th rounds, you can offer them slightly less to sign, but you don't lose anything except the player when they don't.
I'd love to pick Chris Correa's brain on this one, even if I can't print it here.
All the catchers taken in the latter rounds:
I know that this is essentially a "throw some stuff at the wall and see what sticks" point in the draft, but it's been a while since I can remember a catcher with any sort of tools getting drafted past the 15th round that ever made much of dent. I suppose since the organization is going to be turning over a lot of 27-30 year old catchers in the next 8 months or so they need some fresh meat to catch bullpens and spot the actual prospects in the system, but it just makes more sense to me to secure those players after the draft or in the 25-35 rounds than doing it in the 15-20 rounds, where the Cardinals have been able to find a few diamonds in the rough, specifically in the middle infield and corner outfield positions over the last decade or so.
Maybe Chris Chinea, Josh Rolette, and Ryan McCarvell are uncut diamonds in the African jungle, but that certainly seems unlikely.