The Cardinals Draft Preview: Names to Watch

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Bud Selig, the man in charge of not only the draft, but all of baseball, in fact. Really inspires confidence, eh?
With the MLB draft just mere hours away, I thought I might try to roundup at least a few of the names I think the Cardinals just might be interested in calling. These aren't all first-round guys, by any means; in fact, most of them aren't first-rounders. But they are all players who fit into the direction the Cards have hinted they'll be looking to draft this year.

So don't think of this as any sort of projection or prediction thread; these are just some players I think it would be worth looking out for. 

Going into the draft this year, the Cardinals have publicly stated they're planning on trying to focus on left-handed pitching and speed. Now, the left-handed pitching is pretty straight-forward, but the speed thing is less so. Does this mean they've got a big sheet of 60 yard times and are just going to be calling players off it? Of course not.

You don't really draft for speed in baseball; unlike football, speed alone doesn't really accomplish all the much. But when you're looking for a player with great physical tools and potential impact athleticism, speed isn't a bad place to start looking. So when I read the Cardinals are looking to draft speed, I read that as, "We're looking to bring some more athletic players into the system." 

The Cards have also professed an affection for power, which isn't really news. So you're looking for players who can hit for power, you say? Inconceivable! I suppose next you'll tell me the sun is planning on rising in the East tomorrow! 

Anyhow, enough of my babbling. Down to brass tacks, as they say. 

Left-handed pitchers:

Griffin Murphy, Redlands East Valley HS (California)
Murphy is a high school lefty who made some waves early this spring on the showcase when he showed a maturing frame, increased velocity, and a tighter curveball than he had in the past. His results in the actual season have been up and down, though, as he's been unable to maintain the momentum he built with his showcase appearances. Still, he has a fastball that has been clocked up to 93 mph at times, a sharp curveball, and a change-up with plenty of future potential. He'd make an excellent supplemental first-round pick. 

Sammy Solis, University of San Diego
I really like Solis, who reminds me a bit of the Indians' Jeremy Sowers coming out of college. Like Sowers, Solis works with a solid lefty repertoire, works from a lower arm slot, and relies on command and intelligence to get outs. Also like Sowers, he isn't overpowering and has to be fine with his command to avoid getting hit. Another excellent option for the supplemental round. 

James Paxton, Grand Prarie Air Hogs (Independent) 
Paxton's fight with the NCAA is fairly well-known by now, and he's played independent league ball this year in order to showcase his arm. He still has big-time velocity, touching 97 at times, but still is raw in terms of command and secondary stuff. It's tough to get a read on where Paxton will go; a team looking for a signable power arm could take him as high as the back end of the first round. For my money, he's a nice option in the supplemental first or somewhere in the second round. 

Jesse Biddle, Germantown Friends HS (Pennsylvania)
Jesse Biddle may have the most talent of any left-handed pitcher in this year's draft, and that includes Drew Pomeranz, who will likely go in the top 10. Biddle does have a strong college commitment, though, and will likely be tough (read: expensive), to buy out of that. He already features a low-90s fastball and curveball that can get swings and misses; he needs sharper command and a better changeup, but the upside for Biddle is sky-high. If teams think they can sign him, he'll be a first-rounder easily. If not, he could fall quite a ways. 


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