Cards prioritize power, select tough signees
Club moves away from usual trend of focusing on pitchers in Draft
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals wrapped up the final day of the 2015 Draft on Wednesday by taking several expected tough signees and stocking up on catchers to complete their list of 42 picks.
Over three days, the organization selected 14 high school players (including eight in the first 12 rounds), 25 college players and another three out of junior college programs. Meanwhile, the club pulled back from its recent trend of amassing pitching talent.
This year, the Cardinals took just 18 pitchers -- 13 right-handers, five left-handers -- which is the fewest pitchers the Cardinals have taken in the four years since the Draft shrank to 40 rounds. In 2014, the Cardinals used their first six Draft selections on pitchers and took 23 overall.
"There are fewer opportunities in the Minor Leagues right now in our organization for our pitchers, so we have to be selective about bringing pitchers in," said Chris Correa, the Cardinals' director of scouting. "We want to make sure we can give them a full opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and advance through the system."
Of the position players drafted, the Cardinals took five catchers, 11 infielders and eight outfielders. At one point, the club selected three straight catchers, beginning in the 17th round.
"That was by plan," Correa said. "We were trying to address some depth issues, quite frankly, in the lower level of our Minor Leagues. I collaborated with [director of player development] Gary LaRocque, we identified some needs and we went after and filled those needs, I hope."
As the Cardinals waded through the position player talent available, they also prioritized power.
The organization's attention now turns to signing their picks before the July 17 deadline. The Cardinals will be working with an allotted bonus pool of $7,387,600. The bonuses for each of their first 12 picks will count against that figure, as will any signing bonuses greater than $100,000 for players taken after the 10th round, minus the first $100,000.
The Cardinals, as has been their recent strategy, will look to save some of that pool money by signing college players to below-slot bonuses and then offering select high school players above-slot dollars to try to lure them away from college commitments.
The organization picked a number of tough signees, including outfielder Kep Brown (10th round), shortstop Cadyn Greinier (21st round), outfielder Kyle Molnar (25th round), right-hander Mitchell Traver (28th round) and outfielder Matt Vierling (30th round). Greiner, Molnar and Traver were each ranked in the Top 150 of MLB.com's Draft prospects. They fell because of signability concerns.
"I've set myself up for a complicated signing period," Correa said. "To be quite honest, I think I just wanted to have some options."
The club will get a bit of financial wiggle room with owner Bill DeWitt Jr.'s willingness to allow the Cardinals to spend up to 5 percent more than their bonus allotment. The Cardinals would incur a tax in doing so, but the penalty would not include the loss of a future pick. That would give the Cardinals just under $370,00 more to distribute.
A few additional notes about the Cardinals' Day 3 selections:
• With their 29th-round pick, the Cardinals selected pitcher Ben Yokley out of the United States Air Force Academy. Correa said the organization is still determining what sort of military commitment Yokley will have, though it's not expected to be as long as it was for Mitch Harris. Harris, now a Cardinals reliever, served nearly five years in the Navy after being taken by the Cardinals in the 2008 Draft.
"I think he's going to be able to pitch for us this year, but maybe not for the full short season," Correa said of Yokley. "I think Mitch is a great success story, both for himself personally and for our organization. We know that if there is a talented, high-character kid in the armed forces, we can just be patient and be rewarded for that.
• In taking catcher Chris Chinea (17th round, LSU) and Traver (TCU), the Cardinals will have three draftees participating in the upcoming College World Series. The other, outfielder Harrison Bader, was a third-round pick out of the University of Florida.
• The Cardinals drafted Parker Kelly, the younger brother of current Cardinals Minor Leaguer Carson Kelly, in the 34th round, but they expect that he'll honor his commitment to the University of Oregon.