The Cardinals have long been considered one of baseball's best franchises at developing homegrown talent, and all across their current clubhouse, evidence that they still are is plain to see. A plethora of players to appear at the big league level this year were originally selected by the club, from 35-year-old Yadier Molina to 21-year-old Jordan Hicks.
Starting today, St. Louis will scour the amateur ranks for the next generation in the MLB Draft.
The 2018 Draft will take place today through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com today at 6 p.m. ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.
Go to MLB.com/Draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying. Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Cardinals, whose first selection is the 19th overall pick.
Video: Mayo breaks down Top 200 Draft prospects
In about 50 words
Look for the Cardinals to focus on restocking what's considered a top-heavy farm system with arms early, especially after losing Sandy Alcantara in the deal for Marcell Ozuna this winter. They've selected only one pitcher in the first round since 2015, after drafting six between 2012-15.
This will be Randy Flores' third season directing the Cardinals' efforts in the Draft, under the title of scouting director. Last year, the Cardinals didn't have a pick until the third round, forfeiting their first-round pick by signing Dexter Fowler and two additional picks as punishment from MLB for the Astros hacking scandal.
Both MLB.com's Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo have projected the Cardinals to take Stetson right-hander Logan Gilbert at No. 19 in their recent mock drafts, though Mayo notes there is a chance Gilbert is off the board by then.
St. Louis is mostly mentioned with pitchers, meaning there is a chance they nab a prep arm if any lasts longer than expected. If not, they'll likely target a college hurler. Florida righty Jackson Kowar and Mississippi lefty Ryan Rolison both fit that mold.
Video: Draft Report: Ryan Rolison, College pitcher
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $125,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
This year, the Cardinals have a pool of $ $7,968,400, with the first-round pick valued at $3,231,700.
Video: Draft Report: Jackson Kowar, College pitcher
The Cardinals took position players with their first five selections last year, and with six of their first nine picks in 2016. They could pivot from that strategy to even-out the lower rungs of a system that recently graduated Alex Reyes, Jack Flaherty, Luke Weaver and Hicks to the Majors. Another area of focus could be middle-infield depth.
The Cardinals plucked from the high school ranks with four of their last five first-round picks dating back to 2015. Then absent of a first-round pick last year, they grabbed college bats with their first three selections. It's the collegians that have made the most big league impact in recent years, most notably Weaver, Michael Wacha and Kolten Wong.
You can't rise much faster than Hicks, who made his MLB debut this season three years removed from high school. The 21-year-old with a triple-digit arm jumped from Class A to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster, and is now one of their most trusted relievers.
Austin Gomber tossed three innings of scoreless relief in his Major League debut Saturday after spending five days in St. Louis without appearing in a game last month. Another prospect banging on the big league door, Dakota Hudson, is 6-2 with a 2.69 ERA in his first season with the Redbirds.
Video: PIT@STL: Gomber hurls three scoreless frames in debut
Much of the Cardinals' roster and top prospect ranks are occupied by top-5 round picks that rose as expected through the system. But their best everyday player, Tommy Pham, was a 16th-round selection all the way back in 2006 out of Durango High School in Las Vegas. Pham spent parts of 12 seasons in the Minors before breaking out as an MVP candidate last year at age 29.
In the show
20 members of the current 40-man roster were originally Cardinals' Draft selections: Harrison Bader (2015, 3rd round), Matt Carpenter (2009, 13th round), Paul DeJong (2015, 4th round), Flaherty (2014, 1st round), Greg Garcia (2010, 7th round), Gomber (2014, 4th round), Luke Gregerson (2006, 28th round), Hicks (2015, 3rd round), Carson Kelly (2012, 2nd round), Tyler Lyons (2010, 9th round), Mike Mayers (2013, 3rd round), Oscar Mercado (2013, 2nd round), Molina (2000, fourth round), Pham (2006, 16th round), Ryan Sherriff (2011, 28th round), Sam Tuivailala (2010, 3rd round), Luke Voit (2013, 22nd round), Wacha (2012, 1st round), Weaver (2014, 1st round), Wong (2011, 1st round).
The Cardinals' recent top picks
2017: Scott Hurst, CF (Class A Peoria)
2016: Delvin Perez, SS (Extended spring training)
2015: Nick Plummer, OF (Class A Peoria)
2014: Luke Weaver, RHP (Majors)
2013: Marco Gonzales, LHP (Majors, Mariners)
2012: Michael Wacha, RHP (Majors)
2011: Kolten Wong, 2B (Majors)
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.