Cardinals Draft Analysis

Cardinals Draft Analysis

Written by: Jake Tweedie
Follow him on Twitter: @MLBUKAnalysis1
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Overall the St Louis Cardinals had a combined 7 picks over the shortened 5 Round 2020 Draft. They had their normal 1-5 picks as well as one from the Jose Martinez/Matthew Liberatore trade, and a pick from the Atlanta Braves signing Marcell Ozuna.

These picks gave them a huge advantage over most teams, in particular the Houston Astros, who didn’t even have a single pick until after the Cardinals had made their first 4 picks.

Round 1 Pick 21 : Jordan Walker – 3B – Decatur HS (GA)
Bat: R – Throw: R – Height: 6’5 – Weight: 220lbs

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Present/Future Grades

With their first pick of the 2020 Draft, the Cardinals picked a prep hitter with serious upside. He generates tremendous bat speed and leverage, as well as having a hugely projectable 6’5 frame. He is one of the better power hitters in the draft.

He was also featured in Part 1 of my Battle of the All-American, you can find that article here.

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Walker’s clean swing

Offensive: He has very good power, shown by maxing out at 100mph in last year’s PG event, as well as barrelling at 80mph. This allows him to hit fastballs with devastating force when he times his swing to perfection.

He has a nice stance and swing, with loose hips, that helps him generate power alongside his quick bat speed. He targets the left-field corner with incredible precision due to the quick movement of his hips.

Whilst he is deemed as one of the best power preps in the Draft, he has the downside of being inconsistent with his hitting. Fastballs he can deal with effectively, but off-speed pitches below the zone can cause him to swing and miss on a regular basis. If he can focus on his consistently and utilizing his power to great effect, then he has the potential to be a standout pick for the Cardinals.

Defensive: Despite his size and stature, he is athletic and can make some solid plays. Currently playing at 3B, he could move to the outfield corner if he loses speed as he bulks out his frame further. He has a solid throw on him and very good accuracy so switching to an outside corner wouldn’t be an issue. He generates decent power and is a solid size so suits 3B perfectly for now.

High School Career: As a Junior, Walker hit 17 HRs with a BA of .519. In May he was named Georgia’s Gatorade player of the year after hitting 4 HRs and averaging .457 in 16 games. He had originally committed to Duke before the Draft.

Overall: Touted as the best high school third baseman in the class, he has the power and ability to showcase this at the highest level. He will need to work on his consistency, but if he can fine-tune that and continue to excel, then the Cardinals have picked up an incredible talent in Round 1.

Round 2 Pick 54 : Masyn Winn – SS/RHP – Kingwood HS (TX)
Bat: R – Throw: R – Height: 5’11 – Weight: 180lbs

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Hitting Present/Future Grades
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Pitching Present/Future Grades

The first of 3 second-round picks for the Cardinals saw them pick two-way prospect Masyn Winn. He may be short, but his talent at shortstop is unquestionable, and his ability to generate significant velocity with his fastball is hugely impressive.

There are questions of his longevity as a starting pitcher, which is probably why the Cardinals picked him as a hitting prospect.

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Winn’s hitting action

Offensive: He needs to work on his hitting consistency, but as a whole, he has the ability to hit HRs due to his decent power. Hitting from a wide base, he has some lower body shift into contact and has a late hand hitch load.

The hand hitch can leave him being slightly off at times, but with an exit velocity of 95mph, he shows that when he does time the ball it flies off the bat.

Despite his small frame, he has decent raw power due to his strength and has the ability to run the bases effectively. A 10 yard split time of 1.63 is quick and allows him to steal bases if required.

He will need to bulk up further to maintain the level of HRs that he has had and work on his consistency when hitting but he has the tools to be an effective hitter.

Defensive: He is solid defensively, largely in part because of his quick hands and agility to make plays. Playing at shortstop he can get down to the ball well and quickly make double plays with his soft hands. This combined with his solid arm strength is hugely beneficial for the team.

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Winn’s FB

Fastball: His biggest tool from a pitching perspective. He can top 98mph but regularly stays in the upper 90s region. He has a pair of high spin rate weapons (4-seam and 2-seam) with a riding action that has hitters swinging and missing as seen above.

Secondary pitches: He has 2 secondary pitches: his changeup and curveball. They are both effective pitches but his curveball is the better out of the 2.

His curveball stays within the 79-82mph area with a 10-4 feel, due to being released from a lower arm slot. It shows a great drop in speed and mixed with his spin rate becomes an extremely useful tool.

His changeup isn’t as effective just of yet. It stays in the low 80s but is nowhere near as impressive as his other pitches, despite being an average 3rd pitch.

Delivery: He has lightning-fast speed and athleticism. Throwing from a 3/4 slot, he adapts this when throwing a breaking ball to be slightly lower. His fast arm speed helps him generate his upper 90s fastball and gets on top of the ball to make it sink.

High School Career: He was a PG Pre-season All-American in 2017, 2018, and 2019, which shows his ability both as a shortstop and as a pitcher.

In his junior year, he hit .417 with 9 doubles, 8 HRs, and 46 RBIs. He also went 13-0 on the mound with an ERA of 0.67 and 117 strikeouts in 76.1 innings. This led to him being named the 22-6A MVP and selected to the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association 6A All-State Team.

After serving a 12-game suspension at the start of 2020, he made one appearance in his senior year due to the shortened season. He pitched 6 innings, with 8 strikeouts, whilst going 1-for-3 and an RBI at the plate.

Overall: Despite his ability as a two-way player he is more than likely going to be utilized as a hitter rather than a pitcher. However, if he can learn to manage both in a controlled manner then he has the potential to be an exciting versatile player if the Cardinals go down that route.

CBB Pick 63 : Markevian ‘Tink’ Hence – RHP – Watson Chapel HS (AR)
Bat: R – Throw: R – Height: 6’1 – Weight: 175lbs

With their second pick of the second round, the Cardinals picked pitcher Tink Hence. At just 17 years old, he is one of the youngest draft picks of the 2020 Draft. His small frame does him no justice, but his athleticism and ability certainly make up for this.

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Present/Future Grades
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Low effort but solid pace pitch

Fastball: One of his most impressive tools is his fastball. He did reach 96mph in a recent event but usually stays within the 91-95mph region. He manages to get heavy sink movement on it, as shown above and gets regular strikeouts.

Mixing between 4-seam and 2-seam he has the ability to control his fastball with devastating effects. For someone with such a small frame, he has the incredible ability to generate solid velocity with his quick arm and rhythmic action.

Secondary pitches: He has 2/3 secondary pitches. His go-to off-speed pitch is his slider, but he has started to get the feel for a changeup and has the occasional curveball.

His slider causes swings and misses with its deception due to the spinning movement it creates. He can take 15mph off his top speed to throw a 76-81mph slider. This pitch alongside his fastball complements each other perfectly.

He started to work on a changeup before the 2020 season but only had 3 innings to use it in games. The lockdown period has enabled him to work on this pitch, so when he meets up with the Cardinals he has another impressive off-speed pitch. The changeup had a speed of 78mph when he used it, and comes out of the same slot as his fastball.

Delivery: He used to pitch from a 3/4 slot but switched to an over the top action and this is created an increase in his velocity. His arsenal, athleticism, and ability to repeat his delivery gives him the chance of being a starter despite his small frame.

He has a nice, easy action that doesn’t require too much energy. This generates decent speed and he utilizes his pitching arsenal to quietly go about his business.

High School Career: He didn’t have a lot to write home about in his freshman year, but in his sophomore year he became an ace for the Wildcats.

He had an ERA of 0.64 with over 14 appearances, pitching 43.2 innings and striking out 61 hitters.

This form was expected to be replicated in 2020, but a shortened season only saw him pitch 3 innings, striking out 6 and allowing just 2 hits.

Overall: One of the youngest arms in the prep class, he also has one of the most impressive fastballs due to his control and ability to top 96mph. He could turn out to be one of the standout picks of the Draft.

Round 2C Pick 70 : Alec Burleson – OF – East Carolina (NC)
Bat: L – Throw: L – Height: 6’2 – Weight: 212lbs

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Present/Future Grades

With the last of their 3 second-round picks, the Cardinals picked two-way player Alec Burleson.

Although he was predominantly signed as a hitter, Alec Burleson impresses with his ability at the plate but also on the mound.

He is one of the top two-way performers in college baseball, but he will be utilized moving forward as a hitter rather than a pitcher.

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Burleson hitting in slo-mo

Offensive: One of his standout offensive tools is his ability to barrel the ball well, and his numbers show how vital he can be. He has a lovely swing and seems to be able to line drive the ball with ease.

Whilst he relies more on his hit than his actual power, he can still pick up HRs and find the gaps with ease. This more down to his ability to time the ball so effectively rather than genuine power. He did have a decent velocity fastball when on the mound, so he does have some power, just not enough to be translated with his hitting.

There are some question marks on how he develops and what his potential HR ability is. Some scouts think it will be a maximum of 15, whilst others say he could reach 20 as he bulks. One thing is for sure, he is mentally strong and physically strong.

Defensive: He doesn’t have the quickest of feet, and is sometimes quite static, but has good hands and a solid base. He is a great athlete but lacks speed and range to be a big threat. The one positive from his defensive side is his ability to adapt to different positions, as seen in college playing OF and 1B.

His fastball pace shows that he can throw the ball well and that he is extremely accurate when playing in the outfield. His .994 FLD%, with 416 POs, 49 assists, and just 3 errors shows he is a competent defender.

College Career: His college career was hugely impressive with not just the bat, but the ball also. He had an overall pitching record of 13-5, with an ERA of 3.47. He wasn’t a strikeout pitcher but worked the zone well.

However, he will be more focused on hitting as he moves forward, and his numbers were valuable to the team. In 2018, he had a fairly average BA of .252 with 3 doubles and 18 RBIs from 49 games. He did earn First-Team Freshman All-America honors due to his two-way qualities.

He then played for the Bethesda Big Train in the Cal Ripken League in that Summer, averaging .383 with 12 doubles, 10 HRs, and 44 RBIs.

This led to an impressive 2019 season where he was named to five All-America teams, as well as earning First-Team All-AAC honors as an outfielder and was a second-team selection as a utility player.

The season saw him averaging .370 with 23 doubles, 9 HRs, and 61 RBIs in 64 games. He followed this form by receiving the USA Baseball International Performance of the Year Award after his walk-off HR against Japan.

His shortened 2020 season saw him start as well as he finished off the 2019 season. He averaged .375, with 2 doubles, 3 HRs and 12 RBIs in 17 games. His honors for the 2020 season included being named a First-Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

Overall: His ability as a two-way player is hugely impressive but it seems he will focus more on hitting as he moves forward. He has the consistency to get on base often and cause the pitchers problems with the way he barrels the ball so well. If he can showcase his ability both at the plate and on the mound then he has a very bright future.

Round 3 Pick 93 : Levi Prater – LHP – Oklahoma (OK)
Bat: S – Throw: L – Height: 6’0 – Weight: 184lbs

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Present/Future Grades

One of the remarkable picks of the 2020 Draft came in the form of LHP Levi Prater. As a child, he lost 2 fingers on his right hand, but his determination and grit took him to his dream of being drafted into the MLB.

His perseverance and competitiveness won over a lot of the scouts, but his pitching was also a key component of him being selected. He has decent velocity and picks up a lot of strikeouts.

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Prater FB

Fastball: With low 90s velocity, and highs of 93, he has the potential to have an impressive delivery with some work. He has the movement to make it run away from hitters, as shown above, and this stops him from being barrelled. There is the problem of staying in control of the pitch though. He has the ability to make the ball run away from hitters, but it comes at a cost of consistent walks. When his pitching is on point, however, he has the deception to cause plenty of strikes.

Secondary pitches: His secondary pitches include a changeup and a slider. With both pitches being around 80mph, they are very similar in terms of velocity but have different characteristics. He seems to use his changeup more against RHH and his slider against LHH.

His changeup has the fundamentals of his fastball and comes out of the same slot, but has late fade. It appears to be his go-to secondary pitch against RHH. On the contrary, his slider comes away from LHH by throwing across his body to maximize the strike zone.

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Prater’s hard-working action

Delivery: He has a decent delivery but a lot of focus is on his hard-working action. There is significant effort used and this can cause him to fade later on in the game. He has a big stride as he comes down the mound and you can see the way his body moves post-release of the ball.

There is also an emphasis on this as it can lead to more walks, the more tired he gets. However, when he is pounding the strike zone he causes swings and misses with his ability to adjust from a fastball to an off-speed pitch effectively.

College Career: His first season in 2018 was hit and miss. He had a negative record of 3-4, with an ERA of 4.09, but struck out 64 hitters in 50.2 innings.

He then came back in 2019 with a much positive showing. He had an overall record of 7-4, with an ERA of 3.26. He started 14 of his 16 appearances, striking out 97 in 80 innings. He did however allow 43 walks. These impressive figures led to him being named to the All-Big 12 Second Team before making 7 appearances and 4 starts for the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod League. He went 2-1 with an ERA of 0.91, allowing 2 earned runs and striking out 21 hitters in 19.2 innings.

His highlight of the 2019 season was notching 15 strikeouts in 7 innings vs. Missouri State, the fourth-highest strikeout game in program history and most since 1999.

He managed to make 4 starts in a shortened 2020 season, gaining a 1-0 record with an ERA of 3.42. He struck out 33 hitters in 23.2 innings, allowing 10 walks. He was selected for the Academic All-Big 12 Second Team and earned his sole victory with 13 strikeouts, 2 walks, and 1 run in 7 innings vs. San Diego State.

Overall: An impressive individual and pitcher, but will need to work on his control if he wishes to be a regular starter. He may be more effective coming out of the bullpen, but will be interesting to see how he develops and where the Cardinals see him in the future.

Round 4 Pick 122 : Ian Bedell – RHP – Missouri (MO)
Bat: R – Throw: R – Height: 6’2 – Weight: 198lbs

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Present/Future Grades

Another pick that was projected to be a lot lower than he was actually selected was Missouri RHP Ian Bedell.

He is an attractive prospect that was one of the youngest college players in the 2020 Draft. This was because he graduated a semester ahead of schedule at Iowa to enroll early at Missouri.

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Fastball: Consistently staying in the low-90s, he isn’t the quickest of pitchers, but has the control to make his fastball effective. He has the ability to make the ball sink or run dependent on his grip, and regularly pounds the strike zone. His 2-seam grip creates the sink, whilst his 4-seam grip creates a running action. The command of the pitch makes it seem more dangerous than its speed.

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Off speed CB

Secondary pitches: He has the ability to mix up his deliveries with 3 secondary pitches. He uses a cutter, changeup, and curveball.

Although there isn’t much vertical movement with his curveball, he has a consistent spin rate and locates the pitch well. The gif above shows how it causes hitters problems. He keeps his off-speed pitch in the low 80s / high 70s.

His cutter stays in the mid-80s with some movement but is the least effective of the 3 secondary pitches. His changeup however causes problems. He keeps it in the low 80s with a fading action. It comes out of the same slot as the fastball, but the way it comes out of his hand shows some deception.

Delivery: He attacks the hitters with confidence due to his ability to control his pitching so well. The consistent rhythm and pattern allow him to be an effective pitcher, whilst his delivery coming out of the 3/4 slot creates some deception. He mixes up his pitches well, although there are some question marks about his changeup.

Being utilized from the bullpen allows him to target hitters with a bit more freedom and this showed with his college form.

College Career: In 2018, he struggled with consistency and had a 1-1 record with an ERA of 6.17. He mustered just 13 strikeouts in 11.2 innings, with 12 hits.

However, he evolved into a top bullpen arm in 2019. He accumulated a 3-1 record with an ERA of 1.56, striking out 36 hitters in 40.1 innings. Opponents also only had a measly .193 BA against him.

He was named in the 2020 Perfect Game / Rawlings Preseason Third-Team All-American as well as the D1Baseball Preseason Third-Team All-American before the 2020 season. He posted a 2-2 record with an ERA of 3.70. He did allow 5 HRs from just 4 games, but had 35 strikeouts in 24.1 innings.

Overall: One of the most consistent bullpen arms in the 2020 Draft, he isn’t the quickest and won’t be a first-choice starter, but brings an air of calmness about him. If he continues to work on his secondary pitches he could be a long-term bullpen arm or even a late rotation starter.

Round 5 Pick 152 : LJ Jones IV – OF – Long Beach State (CA)
Bat: R – Throw: R – Height: 6’0 – Weight: 225lbs

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Present/Future Grades

With their 7th and final pick of the 2020 Draft, the Cardinals picked the interesting OF LJ Jones IV.

With his large frame and consistent hitting, he probably would have been a higher pick in the Draft, but missing the 2019 season with a hand injury really dented his chances.

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Jones’ swing

Offensive: He has the ability to be a consistent hitter for the Cardinals, however his lack of power is somewhat worrying. He has the perfect frame and build to be a powerhouse, but he hasn’t got the strongest of arms, and the injury certainly affected him.

His swing doesn’t look the cleanest but he has the ability to make solid contact with the ball. He rocks onto his back foot, which helps him shift forward and use his hips and momentum to generate his power, but he could also get caught out with this at a higher level as he is waiting for the pitch. His movement of the bat at the top of the swing is perhaps slightly too much as well.

That said he has the ability to hit homers. His big build and the way he uses his hips should allow him to create enough power to turn extra bases into home runs. The decrease of home runs since High School could either be down to the higher quality of pitchers, or he is still finding his ideal swing and stance.

Defensive: Despite being an outfielder by nature, he has played at 1B at college. This may be the way to go for him in the future to his lack of arm strength, but also his ability to make catches and pick throws out of the dirt. His fielding percentages for the 2 seasons he did play in are very good (.995 in 2018 and .972 in 2020), and he only made 2 errors, with 249 POs. If he is going to progress in the Cardinals’ farm system then he will need to pin down a position and work on his throwing ability.

College Career: In 2018 he had a BA of .312, with 9 doubles, 1 HR, and 22 RBIs. Although he had 20 SOs in 42 appearances, he impressed with his ability to get on base and get runners home. He started the last 14 games at 1B and led the team with his BA.

However, 2019 was not so great for him. He picked up a hand injury and ended up only making 2 appearances. There was a lot of emphasis for Long Beach to utilize Jones to the best of his abilities in 2020, and he certainly did that.

He made 14 appearances in a shortened season, hitting 2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HRs, and getting 9 RBIs. His BA of .327 was hugely impressive. He had just 4 SOs, showing his improved discipline at the plate and he hit safely in 12 of his 14 appearances. He split his time between OF, 1B, and DH.

Overall: There is potential to be a decent hitter within the Cardinals’ farm system but he will need to adapt his game and ensure he uses his frame to his advantage. He wasn’t in the MLB Top 200 so he will have a lot to prove, but he is certainly an interesting pick.

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