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A Seriously Comprehensive Draft Review, Part 2

In part one, I took a look at the first five rounds of the Cards' draft, as well as the overall breakdown of player by type. This time I'll cover the middlish rounds of the draft, 6-20, and then next time tease out any interesting players who happened to be picked up in the late rounds. 
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After selecting two players who fell past their talent slot due to signability in the first five rounds, as well as a couple solid performing Sun Devil pitchers and a tool-shed prep shortstop, the Cardinals went heavy on need and performance as they moved into the middle rounds. The organization had stated going in that left-handed pitching was a priority, and they loaded up on lefties in a big way. They continued to mine for athleticism as well, and their finest foray into that arena may end up being the player who least fits the profile of a middle round draftee. Now, if they could just get him to sign... 

Let's take a look at some of the more intriguing names drafted. 

R6, 199 overall: John Gast, LHP, Florida State
John Gast has a couple things going for him. One, he's left-handed. Two, he rolls up groundball outs in a big way. Three, he's left-handed. Oh, and four, he's left-handed. 

Gast was actually a better prospect coming out of high school in 2007, when he featured a 94 mph fastball and two above-average offspeed pitches. In three years at Florida State, Gast seems to have stagnated. The stuff is still there, as he has the low-90s fastball and has turned the curve he used to throw into a nasty slider, but his changeup isn't what it was and he's battled injury and ineffectiveness ever since entering college. He's had Tommy John surgery, which cost him both time and command when he came back. I do worry his mechanics will leave him vulnerable to further injury, as he has a very high pitching elbow. 

Personally, I really like the pick of Gast here. Any and every player available at this point in the draft is going to have warts, and at least with Gast there's a chance for more in his arm than what he's shown. At the very least, his fastball/slider combo should give him a jump start on LOOGY work. His ability to get grounders, though, should give him at least a decent chance to start for now. 

R7, 229: Greg Garcia, SS, Hawaii
Last year the Cardinals drafted a shortstop out of Miami in the fifth round by the name of Ryan Jackson; this year they took Jackson again in the seventh round, only he had changed his name and moved to Hawaii, apparently. 

Greg Garcia, much like Jackson, is a defensive whizkid at short, but has serious questions about his ability to hit enough to be a viable player in the pros. (Also like Jackson.) Garcia did hit much better this season than he had in the past, posting a .450 on-base percentage, but the long-term questions remain. If Garcia can hit even just a little, he could very easily fall into that Adam Everett/Brendan Ryan position on the shortstop spectrum. There's value in that, even if it comes as a utility glove.
 

R8, 259: Daniel Bibona, LHP, UC Irvine
The Cardinals really, really like Daniel Bibona, apparently, as they've now drafted him two years in a row. After the Cards drafted him in 2009, Bibona decided to return to school for his senior season and improved his stock with another outstanding campaign. So, the Cardinals called his name again this year, only several rounds earlier. 

Bibona takes the idea of the pitchability left-hander to some theoretical nth degree. He's small (listed at 6'0", 170), he doesn't throw hard (his fastball tops out about 89), and he does nothing but produce. In his senior season, Bibona posted a K:BB of right at 7:1, while allowing opposing hitters just a .600 OPS against. He throws all of his various pitches (fastball, cutter, slider, changeup), for strikes, and his change is probably his best weapon. While it certainly wouldn't be a great idea to bet on a guy with Bibona's lack of stuff, stranger things have happened, particularly when dealing with lefties. 

R9, 289: Tyler Lyons, LHP, Oklahoma State
Lyons and John Gast are in much the same boat. Both are left-handed pitchers who were big-time prospects coming out of high school, went to large schools, and saw their stocks fall by the time the pros came calling again. Unlike Gast (at least so far), Lyons stayed in college all the way to his senior season after being drafted but not signing with the Yankees last year. 

Lyons attacks hitters from a high arm slot that give him nice downward angle on his fastball and allows him to get on top of his best pitch, a hard downer curveball that rates as a true swing-and-miss pitch. He's got a decent changeup as well, giving him enough pitches to at least begin his pro career as a starter. His fastball is firm in the 88-91 range; not bad for a lefty. Lyons was hurt badly this season by a severe case of homeritis, as he gave up ten dingers in just eleven starts, leading to an ugly ERA, but there's enough promise in his arm to think he should be better in the future. Somewhere there was a scouting report that compared him to Rays' reliever J.P. Howell (for the life of me I can't recall where I read that, though, and can't find it now), and I really like that comparison. Lyons has the one plus pitch and aggressive makeup of Howell, and I could certainly see him succeeding in a bullpen role down the line with his curve. For now, though, I'm sure he'll get every opportunity to start.
 


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