Cards select 3 college players on Draft's Day 2
ST. LOUIS -- After taking three high school players with their Day 1 picks, the Cardinals had nine selections Tuesday, the second day of the three-day Draft. The club used three of their first four Day 2 picks to pluck college players, including a pair of position players and a pitcher.
The Draft will conclude Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 on MLB.com beginning at 10 am CT. Here is a rundown of the picks from Rounds 3-5:
Round 3: OF Harrison Bader, University of Florida
A junior outfielder for the Gators, Bader was one of the advanced college bats available in this year's Draft. In 62 games this spring, the right-handed hitting Bader batted .292 with a .392 on-base percentage, 14 doubles, 15 homers and 61 RBIs. The uptick in power was especially notable, as Bader hit just two home runs in his sophomore season.
Scouts have been impressed by Bader's bat speed and project the 21-year-old to hit for both average and power. He has played both mostly the corner outfield positions in college, though Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa said the Cardinals believe he has the above-average speed necessary to try center.
Bader has earned several accolades since beginning his collegiate playing career. He was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2013 and was an All-SEC Second Team member in 2014. His team has qualified for the College World Series and will begin play this weekend.
Supplemental round pick (105th overall): RHP Jordan Hicks (Cypress Creek High School in Texas)
Hicks, 18, was named to the Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American team and Texas All-Region First Team this year, and recently committed to Tulane University. The Cardinals clocked Hicks' fastball in the mid-90s. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Hicks helped lead Cypress Creek to a district championship.
"I was fortunate to see Jordan a couple times this spring," Correa said. "He has a fastball up to 95 [mph] with sink, tail and deception, and he has advanced command. He flashes a quality command and changeup. He's a real competitor with advanced pitchability, and I think he's looking forward to joining our organization."
The Cardinals selected Hicks with a pick they received as compensation for not signing third-rounder Trevor Megill last summer.
Round 4: 3B Paul DeJong, Illinois State University
While the Cardinals denoted DeJong as a third baseman when making the pick, the 21-year-old out of Antioch, Ill., has played second base, shortstop and catcher, as well, for Illinois State. Some talent evaluators believe he could stick behind the plate, though the Cardinals seem ready to give DeJong a look as an infielder first.
A year after leading the Redbirds in most offensive categories as a sophomore, DeJong topped the team in hits (70), doubles (15), slugging percentage (.605), total bases (127) and RBIs (48) this season. He also led the Missouri Valley Conference with 14 home runs. Over 51 games, DeJong hit .333/.427/.605 en route to being named to the All-Missouri Valley Conference First Team.
DeJong was also a recent first-team selection for Capital One Academic All-America honors. DeJong, a redshirt junior, graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in biochemistry/pre-medicine last month and finished with a 3.76 cumulative grade-point average.
Round 5: RHP Ryan Helsley, Northeastern State (Okla.) University
Helsley, a draft-eligible sophomore, led the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (Division II) with 95 strikeouts over 63 2/3 innings this season. He had four double-digit strikeout games in 12 starts, finished with a 7-4 record and ranked sixth in the MIAA with a 3.53 ERA. Helsley held opponents to a .249 batting average.
"He's somebody we've seen with a fastball up to 97 [mph]," Correa said. "It's hard to pass on that in the sixth round. He does have a curveball, slider. We're going to try to develop him as a starting pitcher."
Helsely, 20, was recently named to the All-MIAA First Team, the only underclassman to make that list. One year earlier, he was the MIAA Freshman of the Year. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Helsley was a three-sport star in high school, earning honors as a basketball player and defensive back as well.
Helsely was among about two dozen players to attend a private workout with the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Sunday.