Trying to predict the MLB draft is an effort in futility. Once you get past the first 5 or so prospects, its anybody's guess as to what might happen. Teams rank players differently, draft pools come into play and all hell breaks loose.
So, I'm not going to pretend that I know who the Cardinals are going to take with the 19th overall pick in this year's draft. Instead, I'm going to highlight a handful of prospects who intrigued me while looking through the rankings and that I think would be good picks for the Cards.
First off is shortstop J.P. Crawford of Lakewood, CA high school. ESPN (paysite) ranks him #12 while Baseball America ranks him #15 on their respective draft prospects lists.
A relative of Carl Crawford, J.P. has a good arm and the range to stay at short. Baseball America states that he projects as a "solid-average or slightly better defensive shortstop and an average hitter with fringy power." ESPN says that Crawford is "the one true, no-doubt shortstop in this draft class, putting him in
top-10 consideration even though he's probably four or five years from
the big leagues."
With their troubles at short, the Cardinals could snap up Crawford, should he fall to them at #19. However, the way ESPN is talking, he shouldn't last that long.
Next is Ryne Stanek, a right handed pitcher for the University of Arkansas. Both ESPN and Baseball America rank him #13.
Stanek has good stuff--his fastball ranges from 92-98 mph and he has a power slider--but his results don't always measure up. Baseball America says that "a tweak here or there could unlock Stanek’s frontline potential, but
other scouts see him as a future closer or set-up man in the Daniel Bard
His stock has dropped some and if he keeps sliding he could possibly fall to the Cardinals. The Cards have shown an extraordinary ability to develop power arms in their recent history and Stanek could be one of those Michael Wacha sleeper-types who develop into a frontline starter.
One of the more intriguing pitchers on the board is Sean Manaea, a lefty from Indiana State University. He was the star of the Cape Cod League last summer, striking out 85 in 52 innings while showing a fastball that reached the mid-90's.
However, this year, compensating for an ankle injury led to hip issues, which have sapped his fastball and caused his stock to drop. He was only topping out at 91 mph in an early May start and scouts are trying to figure out who the real Manaea is.
Like Stanek, the Cards would probably be ecstatic if he were available to them at the #19 pick and would likely take a chance on him if he's available.
Finally, there's Alex Gonzalez, a right handed pitcher out of Oral Roberts University. ESPN ranks him #16 and Baseball America lists him at #19.
He has a fastball that sits in the low 90's with natural cut and sink and Baseball America says his slider is one of the best in the draft and gives him two plus pitches. He's one of those pitchers who may not have a high ceiling, but is pretty polished and will likely move quickly through the minors (kind of like Wacha).
Personally, I would like to see the Cardinals select either Stanek or Manaea with the #19 pick (if either is available). Both have upside but have slipped recently due to injury or lack of results. I think that, the way the Cards have been developing pitchers lately, if they got their hands on either of those too, they would flourish in the Cardinals organization.