Cards draft UCSB righty McGreevy in Rd 1

July 12th, 2021

Looking for a pitcher who “reeks of athleticism” and “almost has a phobia” of handing out walks? Then look no further than UC Santa Barbara right-hander Michael McGreevy.

That’s the makeup of the player the Cardinals believe they found in their first-round selection (18th overall) in the 2021 MLB Draft on Sunday.

With results that leave little to be desired and metrics that the club said are right there in concert, McGreevy, 21, is an old-school Cardinals pick, with raw tools to salivate at and plenty of room to develop.

“He looked like a starting pitcher who had a phobia of throwing balls,” said Cardinals director of scouting Randy Flores. “... He has the stuff at the upper end that looks like it could lead a rotation.”

The confidence is apparent, selected from the same college as Shane Bieber (though they didn’t overlap) as a fellow Southern California native and scrutinized by area scout Mike Garciaparra, brother of six-time All-Star Nomar.

“I never let myself try to mirror my game after another pitcher, because it's me,” McGreevy said. “I trusted myself, and that's who I got in my corner.”

McGreevy, who owns a fastball that can hit 96 mph, was ranked No. 28 in this Draft class by MLB Pipeline. The Cards passed on some higher-ranked arms still available to select him a year after using their first-round pick on a high-ceiling high school bat in Jordan Walker.

McGreevy was the Cardinals’ highest pick since 2008, when they took first baseman Brett Wallace 13th overall. The Cards have picked lower than 18th just twice this millennium, thanks to 20 winning seasons in 21 years.

And McGreevy is a throwback pick of sorts. Four of the Cards’ last nine top overall selections entering this Draft were college pitchers, including three consecutive from 2012-14.

The latest one, McGreevy, has a history of success. As the Friday night starter for UCSB this past season, McGreevy struck out 115 batters against 11 walks -- good enough for a 2.6 walk rate -- in 101 2/3 innings following the pandemic-canceled 2020 season.

“I would rather have guys get hits off me rather than walks,” McGreevy said. “I think it's just uncompetitive.”

Most impressive for the Cardinals is the mental makeup of McGreevy, who they said grew immensely during the down time of the pandemic -- both physically and in a maturation sense -- by growing into his body, adding velocity and refining his delivery, largely by his own initiative.

And he wants to continue to add weight that will allow him to tick up his velocity even more. Only one kind of bulking, though.

"Obviously, good weight,” McGreevy laughed. “Like, we don't want to have some love handles down below the abs.”

McGreevy, a self-proclaimed Star Wars nerd and former two-way player who stopped playing shortstop when he got to college, is listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, but he believes he can hit 230 pounds. There, the Cardinals believe, he can sit at 96 mph a bit more comfortably.

“It really is something where we do like how he is now, and we do believe that his future is bright,” Flores said, referencing McGreevy’s sinking fastball, curve and slider for breaking balls and a developing changeup.

The Cardinals hope this Draft is as fruitful as their last, when they selected Walker 21st overall. Walker, only 19 and at the High-A level, has skyrocketed up St. Louis’ farm system and is expected to do the same in prospect rankings.

But as the club has acknowledged, positive returns will only be truly appreciated when they come at Busch Stadium. That goes for the 2020 Draft class, and it now goes for McGreevy -- St. Louis’ only pick on Day 1.

The Draft resumes Monday with rounds 2-10.