St. Louis Cardinals Prospects: B/R's Top 15 Breakdown, Post-2014 Draft
When the St. Louis Cardinals selected Davis Ward in the 40th round, the 2014 first-year player draft was complete.
Ward, the 1,215th and final pick of the draft, was one of nearly two-dozen pitchers taken by the St. Louis.
The Cardinals used their first six picks on pitchers, including both first-round picks on a pair of right-handers (Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty). They also selected 11 infielders, five outfielders and three catchers.
A good number of the Cardinals’ draft picks figure to have bright futures in professional baseball. Based on their prior achievements and statistics, the odds of the Cardinals’ top picks making it to the big leagues are better than half, in my opinion.
Here’s a breakdown of the Cardinals’ top 15 draft picks, including statistics from this past season.
Luke Weaver, Pitcher, Florida State
The Cardinals restocked their pitching depth in this year’s draft with the selection of Florida State right-hander Luke Weaver—the first of 23 pitchers they took.
Weaver, taken 27th overall, was 8-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 16 starts for the Seminoles this season.
“It was hard because I got a text from my advisor saying ‘Let’s Go!’ with the Cardinals on the clock,” Weaver told Natalie Pierre of the Tallahassee Democrat. “I sat there for a whole minute, my heart was racing, and when I heard my name it was such a surreal feeling. I was speechless, I didn’t know what to do. This is what every kid dreams about.”
At 6’2”, 170 pounds, Weaver doesn’t intimidate hitters with heat: He will mow them down with finesse—mainly his changeup, which is considered his “out” pitch.
In over 106 innings pitched this past season, Weaver recorded 85 strikeouts and held opposing hitters to a .226 average.
He tossed a complete-game, one-hit shutout in Florida State’s 6-0 win over Boston College on March 28. He needed only 105 pitches. Weaver also went the distance against Wake Forest on April 18; he allowed a run on three hits and struck out seven on 111 pitches.
Jake Flaherty, Pitcher, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
The second of the Cardinals’ two first-round picks was Harvard-Westlake right-hander Jack Flaherty.
Flaherty, 18, was previously committed to the University of North Carolina. However, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals and Flaherty “agreed on a bonus that is ‘over slot,’ or beyond the $1.65 million suggested for the 34th pick by the commissioner’s office.”
The California prep star tossed a no-hitter in his only postseason start, capping off an unblemished season (10-0) and accompanying his microscopic 0.69 ERA.
According to Goold, the Cardinals were interested in Flaherty as a third baseman, but his four-pitch repertoire and high-velocity potential turned him into a first-round prospect.
Ronnie Williams, Pitcher, American Senior HS (Fla.)
Ronnie Williams, the 68th overall pick, helped lead his high school to its first-ever state championship this past season.
The right-hander was nearly flawless on the hill for American Senior, which is perhaps why he was taken in the second round.
At just 6’0”, 170 pounds, Williams crafted a record of 8-2 with a 0.97 ERA in 11 games. In his 65 innings of work, struck out 72.
Andrew Morales, Pitcher, University of California-Irvine
In selecting UC-Irvine’s Andrew Morales, the Cardinals received another hard-throwing hurler to develop.
This season, Morales is 11-2 with a 1.53 ERA in 18 starts. In 129-plus innings pitched, Morales is tied for first in the nation with 136 strikeouts.
Last week, Morales tossed a five-hit, complete-game shutout in a 1-0 triumph over Oklahoma State to send UC-Irvine to the College World Series.
“Just execute pitches, keep the ball down and they can’t hurt you,” Morales told John Tranchina of The Associated Press (via NCAA.com). “I trusted my curveball [Saturday] and my slider. Those have been my two best pitches all year. It was a great game to be a part of.”
Trevor Megill, Pitcher, Loyola Marymount University
Perhaps the Cardinals’ most interesting pick came in the third round. With the 104th overall pick, they took Loyola Marymount University right-hander Trevor Megill.
Megill underwent Tommy John elbow surgery last May and missed the entire 2014 season.
By drafting Megill, the Cardinals took a gamble they hope pays off in the future. Megill throws 90-plus miles per hour with good movement and owns a devastating curveball, according to Dan Kantrovitz—the Cardinals director of amateur scouting.
Megill will pitch in the Cape Cod League this summer to prove his worth as a third-round investment.
“He wants to show the baseball world he’s healthy by pitching in the Cape Cod League,” Kantrovitz told Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch. “I think there might be a fit for us here, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. We want to track his progress. But it’s worth a risk in the third round because he’s a talent that potentially is more commensurate for a much higher pick.”
Prior to getting injured, Megill was an All-WCC selection his first two seasons at LMU.
Austin Gomber, Pitcher, Florida Atlantic
In the fourth round, the Cardinals took Florida Atlantic lefty Austin Gomber (No. 135 overall).
Gomber, Florida Atlantic’s ace, was just 3-6 with a 3.26 ERA in a dozen starts this season. However, he led the staff with 72 strikeouts.
The junior is the fifth-highest draft in school history.
“Being part of such a great program with so much tradition, it’s an honor to be the fifth-highest pick in FAU history,” Gomber said, according to FAUSports.com. “The draft history at FAU shows how good our coaches have done in their time there and will do for the many years to come.”
Darren Seferina, 2nd Base, Miami-Dade Community College South
The Cardinals added their first position player in the fifth round when they selected second baseman Darren Seferina of Miami-Dade Community College South.
The left-handed-hitting Seferina helped lead MDCCS to the NJCAA World Series, where it finished as the runner-up.
Seferina batted .405 with 34 stolen bases (tied for 13th in the NJCAA).
“The feeling was great,” Seferina told Alex Halsted of MLB.com. “I never thought I was ever going to feel like that, because I’m a person that doesn’t get too excited about things. When I heard they selected me in the fifth round, it was great. It was an unbelievable moment.”
Andrew Sohn, Shortstop, Western Michigan
Andrew Sohn became the second-highest shortstop drafted from Western Michigan when the Cardinals took him in the sixth round (No. 195 overall).
Sohn, 5’11”, 185 pounds, was labeled as the preseason Mid-American Conference Player of the Year by Baseball America.
His season statistics back that assumption.
Sohn headed the Broncos with a .323 average, including 34 runs scored, six triples and 28 RBI. He also led the team in slugging percentage (.422), on-base percentage (.429) and stolen bases (17).
Brian O'Keefe, Catcher, St. Joseph's University (Pa.)
Yadier Molina will eventually have his own shrine in Cooperstown, and the Cardinals will look for his heir.
Perhaps Brian O’Keefe of St. Joseph’s University (Pennsylvania) is that player.
O’Keefe was an All-Atlantic 10 First Team selection at his position. He tied the school record and led the conference with 58 runs scored this past season.
Nick Thompson, Outfielder, William and Mary
With the 255th overall pick, the Cardinals selected outfielder Nick Thompson from William and Mary.
Thompson, 6’1”, 210 pounds, leads all Division I players with 69 runs scored this season. Furthermore, Thompson won the Colonial Athletic Association batting crown after hitting .368 with 11 home runs.
Daniel Poncedeleon, Pitcher, Embry-Riddle University
Daniel Poncedeleon was taken in the ninth round (No. 285 overall).
The 6’4”, 195-pound right-hander went 9-2 with a 1.60 ERA this season.
Danny Diekroeger, 3rd Base, Stanford
Danny Diekroeger, a third baseman out of Stanford, had an impressive season for the Cardinal.
The St. Louis took him in the 10th round.
He hit .313 with 43 runs scored.
Diekroeger has a knack for getting on base. He posted a .404 on-base percentage this past season.
Justin Bellinger, 1st Base, St. Sebastian's School (Mass.)
At 6’6”, 237 pounds, Justin Bellinger resembles current Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams.
Bellinger hit .490 with three homers and 30 RBI while also drawing 25 walks in 17 games for his school this past spring.
“I love the way [the Cardinals] manage their organization,” Bellinger told Brendan C. Hall of ESPN Boston. “They always talk about integrity and commitment to playing for championships. I’m super glad they chose me.”
Jordan DeLorenzo, Pitcher, University of West Florida
The Cardinals selected Jordan DeLorenzo in the 12th round (No. 375 overall).
The University of West Florida product is the highest draft pick in school history.
This past season, DeLorenzo posted a record of 11-1 with a 0.94 ERA.
“The picks were flying by,” DeLorenzo told Bill Vilona of the Pensacola News Journal. “Once I got the call that it was going to happen in the 12th round, we were staring at the computer and waiting. Once it finally happened, it was a huge thrill. It was a lot of hard word to get to this point.”
Matt Pearce, Pitcher, Polk State College
Matt Pearce, a right-hander out of Polk State College, was taken in the 13th round (No. 405 overall) by the Cardinals.
The 6’3”, 205-pound hurler went 4-3 with a 2.61 ERA this past season.
What’s most impressive about Pearce is his control and pinpoint location. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is a ridiculous 73-to-9.