Thoughts on the MLB draft and the Reds

Baseball America ranked the Cardinals farm system #1 in baseball on March 27th, 2013.  When the rankings come out next year, it’s highly unlikely the Cards will even be among the top 5 farm clubs in MLB.  Because of the unusual amount of injuries, the Cards have had to dig deep and make some tough decisions about promoting young pitchers.  If the Cards didn’t have the depth they’ve stockpiled, the team might already be looking to 2014, or they may have traded Oscar Taveras and/or Kolten Wong to try and weather the storm.

The Cards went right to work in this year’s draft on restocking some of that pitching, selecting two LHP’s in the first round in Marco Gonzales and Rob Kaminsky.  Taking a LHP was something the Cards hadn’t done in the first round since 1994.  The Cards Director of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz said the Cards ran through 5 or 6 different mock drafts, trying to anticipate who other teams would draft and who that might leave them with.  Kantrovitz said the Cards never ran through the scenario that played out, because they didn’t think it was possible the Cards would land Gonzales and Kaminsky, as well as their 2nd round pick, shortstop Oscar MercadoHere’s a clip from ESPN with Cards GM John Mozeliak and Kantrovitz about these picks.

Gonzales, the 19th overall pick, is a 6’1”, 185 pound lefty from Gonzaga.  He was said to have the best changeup in this year’s draft, which scouts graded as a 70 on the 20-80 scale.  Gonzales lives on the corners with his fastball that’s 89-91 MPH, and also mixes in a curveball and cutter that are pitches he needs to work on.  Polished and poised are the words for Gonzales.  The Cards expect Gonzales to move quickly through the system and hope is ETA is 2015.

Kaminsky, the 28th overall pick, is another lefty listed at 6’0”, 190 pounds.  Kaminsky can run the fastball up to 94 MPH, but his out pitch is the curveball.  Kaminsky has a commitment to North Carolina, but seems pretty excited to be picked by the Cardinals and looks like he’ll be signing soon.  In this piece by Kevin Kernan of the NY Post, Kaminsky said “This is a dream becoming a reality.”  Asked if he was sweating it out, Kaminsky admitted “To an extent, but I had an idea from my family advisor that I was going late in the first round, so it was going to be the Yankees or the Cardinals.  Thank God it’s the Cardinals because they definitely develop.”

Merchado is an interesting pick.  The Cardinals seem more than happy with it, and most scouts seem to think he was one of the best high school defensive players in the draft.  It seems to be a consensus that he’ll never hit for a high average or with power, but they say he’s one of the few players that can project to stay at shortstop all the way to MLB.  Both Kaminsky and Merchado are probably 3 or 4 years away from MLB, so patience will be the plan with them.

The Cards came into Cincy with a 3 game lead over the Reds.  Adam Wainwright and the offense extended it to 4 games last night, making sure the Cards will leave town up at least 2 games on the Reds in a worst case scenario.  The Cards stayed patient against Mike Leake, making him throw 97 pitches through 5 IP, and continued their trend of hitting with 2 outs and RISP.  Yadier Molina answered the boo birds with 2 hits and ran his league leading BA to .352.  Matt Carpenter worked a full count in his first 3 AB’s, and continues to set the table and be among the lead leaders in P/PA at 4.05.  Tyler Lyons takes the mound tonight against Mat Latos, who is 5-0 with a 2.90 ERA in 12 starts.

The thing on my mind is if Dusty Baker is going to order someone to be hit in this series.  With Mike Matheny replacing Tony LaRussa, it appears that the feud between the Cards and Reds may have died down some since LaRussa left.  It’s not just the Cardinals though.  In 3 of the last 4 series the Reds have played in, players from other teams have had problems with the way the Reds pitchers are going about their business.  Matt Garza of the Cubs, Nick Swisher of the Indians and several players on the Pirates feel that balls are more than just getting away from Reds pitchers these days.  This is something Matheny hasn’t had to deal with yet, and it will be interesting to see how he does if it does happen tonight or tomorrow.  When it comes to Baker, well, you just never know.

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