St. Louis Cardinals: 12 Players Who the Team Could Target in 2015 MLB Draft


Major League Baseball’s yearly draft takes place from Monday to Wednesday of next week, and every team across the league will be trying to replenish their organizational depth while adding potential future superstars who can elevate their big-league clubs to new heights in a few seasons. The St. Louis Cardinals, who spent the past few seasons with one of the deepest, most talented farm systems in baseball, are now in need of talented depth just as much or even more than most of the clubs around the league. With key players like Carlos Martinez, Kolten Wong, and Michael Wacha now full-fledged big-leaguers and other young players like Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, and Tyrell Jenkins having been sold off to address immediate needs at the major-league level, the Cardinals don’t have too many prospects who are viewed as impactful major-leaguers left in the bank.

With a primarily young core consisting of guys who are years away from free agency, such as Wong, Wacha, Matt Carpenter, and Trevor Rosenthal, it’s not essential that the Cardinals bring in players who are capable of reaching the big leagues in insanely quick fashion like Wacha and Marco Gonzales did, with each player having debuted in the majors roughly a year after being drafted. However, it is essential that the Cardinals convert on their pick and find a player who turns into something special, because 13th-rounders like Carpenter and and 21st-rounders like Rosenthal don’t always turn into big-league stars.

Here are a few players who could be prime candidates to be selected with the Cardinals’ first pick at 23rd overall, or if they fall that far, with the team’s next pick at 39.

  • Kolby Allard, LHP, San Clemente HS (CA) ranking: 16

Sure, the Cardinals have built up plenty of lefthanded starting pitching depth in the past few drafts with Marco Gonzales and Rob Kaminsky, but with historically brittle Jaime Garcia as the only lefty in the current big-league rotation and not much else on the horizon, it’s reasonable to assert that the Cards could use more front-line lefty starting depth.

Allard, a slightly undersized high school lefty who is committed to UCLA, could be a good fit for the Cardinals. Though he’s ranked ahead of the Cards’ slot at 23, injury concerns this spring and general signability concerns could cause him to fall a bit, so he could be there for St. Louis. Allard wouldn’t make the immediate impact that pitchers like Gonzales and Michael Wacha have made recently, but he’d be a nice long-term addition and would restore some highly-valued starting pitching depth to an organization that doesn’t have a whole lot of it right now.

  • Chris Betts, C, Wilson HS (CA) ranking: 25

The Cardinals aren’t going to be able to rely on Yadier Molina forever. Quite frankly, they’re several years overdue on finding a clear heir apparent to the 32-year-old, and with the combination of Molina’s steep decline thus far in 2015 and a draft class that is widely regarded to be weak at the catching position, it might be wise for the Cardinals to snag a catcher with legitimate big-league starting potential as quickly as possible.

Betts is a defensively advanced high-schooler who who is lauded for his arm strength and overall defensive ability behind the plate. He’s a lefthanded hitter who could become a very effective contact hitter as a pro. Though he’d likely need at least three full seasons of development before he’d be ready to take over for Molina, Betts would present a more realistic option as the catcher of the future than anyone the Cardinals currently have in the organization.

  • Phil Bickford, RHP, CC of Southern Nevada ranking: 21

Despite his current status as a junior college starter, Bickford could be a prime candidate to advance quickly through the minors and impact a major-league team in short order. The hard-throwing righthander, who began his collegiate career at Cal State Fullerton, compliments a plus fastball with with a solid slider and changeup. In a Cardinals minor league system that doesn’t have a whole lot of intriguing starting pitchers outside of current High-A starters Alex Reyes and Rob Kaminsky, Bickford would improve the depth and perhaps progress more rapidly than a more raw high school pitcher.

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  • Kyle Cody, RHP, Kentucky ranking: 40

Despite being a 21-year-old college junior, Cody seems to be more of a raw prospect that will need to be developed as a pro. He finished 2015 with a 4-4 record, 4.91 ERA, and .255 opponent batting average after missing a large chunk of his sophomore year with injuries and struggling as a freshman. However, Cody has plenty of power at 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds and has touched speeds as high as 97 MPH with his fastball.

Cody would be a high-risk, high-ceiling pitching prospect for the Cardinals, but considering their success in developing raw pitching prospects like Trevor Rosenthal and Seth Maness into star big-leaguers, it wouldn’t be a stretch by any means to suggest that Cody could develop into an impact starter in the Cardinals’ system. It’s just a matter of whether they’re willing to take a risk on that chance at pick 23.

  • Donnie Dewees, OF, North Florida ranking: 35

The Cardinals are lacking a bit in outfield depth at the moment, especially at the lower levels of the minors. With Matt Holliday aging and no other established long-term starters in the big-league outfield, the Cards could stand to develop more of a backup plan there.

Dewees, a lefthanded hitter, profiles as a true center fielder who is well-disciplined and will do a good job of making consistent contact at whatever level he plays at. He’s a solid runner who may provide some occasional power as a pro. All the way down to the Florida roots, Dewees is reminiscent of a younger Jon Jay. Considering his age (22 in September) and advanced plate approach, Dewees may be a candidate to move quickly through the system and provide some much-needed outfield depth at the big-league level in a couple years.

  • Donny Everett, RHP, Clarksville HS (TN) ranking: 23

If MLB teams picked players according to their rankings on the league’s website, Everett would be the Cardinals’ pick at 23. Perhaps coincidentally, Everett would be a rather good fit for the Cards. The high-school righthander has the physical skills to become an impactful big-league starter at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, and with a fastball that could end up exceeding 100 MPH over the next few years, he has a high amount of potential if he can develop his secondary pitches. There could be some signability concerns for Everett, as he’s a Vanderbilt commit, and that institution seems to do better than most when it comes to getting drafted players to stick to their college commitments.

If the Cardinals were to get their hands on Everett, it would give them a trio of righthanded pitching prospects age 20 and younger, along with Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes, who could have front-of-the-rotation potential.

  • Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville ranking: 13

The 21-year-old Funkhouser is highly-coveted and may not make it to the Cardinals’ pick at 23, but if he falls he may be the best fit for the Cards. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound righthander compliments an above-average fastball with a solid slider and changeup and has the potential to advance quickly through the system. In an organization that has questionable-at-best starting pitching depth at Triple-A and no starting depth to speak of at Double-A, it would be nice to get a guy like Funkhouser who has so much potential to at least get on the same track as Alex Reyes and Rob Kaminsky, who figure to be in Double-A in 2016. If nothing else, he could move quickly as a reliever and provide some relief for a bullpen that barely even has enough righthanded depth to supply the big-league bullpen at the moment.

  • Mitchell Hansen, OF, Plano HS (TX) ranking: 38

The 19-year-old Hansen might be a bit of a sleeper pick in the middle of the first round, but the Cardinals haven’t been scared to “overdraft” a bit in order to dissuade a player from a college commitment, as they did in 2014 with righthander Jack Flaherty. With a projectable 6-foot-4, 197-pound frame, Hansen could actually end up being very similar to current Cardinals right fielder Jason Heyward, or at least the player that many have long hoped Heyward will eventually turn into. He’s a disciplined lefthanded hitter who makes solid contact, and he has above-average power potential. Hansen’s decently speedy and could be an impactful defensive outfielder wherever his team puts him.

With top position player prospect Stephen Piscotty looking like less of a sure thing to eventually end up as a big-league starter, Hansen could provide another option as an eventual starter in the Cardinals’ outfield.

  • Justin Hooper, LHP, De La Salle HS (CA) ranking: 31

Hooper, a massive 18-year-old at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, could be a star either in the rotation or the bullpen as long as his command develops as his pro career gets underway. He already throws in the high 90s from a low arm slot, and one would think that as he continues to develop physically, he has a great chance to touch 100 MPH.

Ordinarily, it might be risky to take a pitcher in the first round who has a decent chance of being limited to relief in the majors, but with the Cardinals lacking premium relief prospects even more than they are impactful starters, it can’t hurt to have a flamethrower like Hooper in the system, even if he does end up as a reliever down the road.

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  • Richie Martin, SS, Florida ranking: 34

The Cardinals’ most recent “shortstop of the future”, Cuban defector Aledmys Diaz, hasn’t really turned out as planned thus far, as he’s currently hitting .224/.277/.303 in his second full season at Double-A Springfield. The Cards also have a slew of younger shortstop prospects, including Edmundo Sosa, Juan Herrera, and Oscar Mercado, that could end up being serviceable big-leaguers, but Martin would present a clear succession plan for Jhonny Peralta.

The 20-year-old still needs to develop offensively, as several other defense-first college shortstops such as Brandon Crawford, Andrelton Simmons, and Nick Ahmed have progressively done, even at the big-league level. But since he’s considered to be such an athletic, rangy fielder at shortstop, Martin could move quickly through the system and provide a defensive advantage up the middle.

  • Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona ranking: 29

Newman’s not as highly-regarded of a fielder at shortstop as Martin, but he’s a pure contact hitter who is projected to consistently hit above .300, but not do much else—think Joe Panik or Scooter Gennett. It’s possible that he’s solid enough defensively that he could stick at shortstop as a pro, which would increase his value, but he’d still be an intriguing option at second base even if he doesn’t work out at short. The only question there would be how the Cards would get him in the lineup, considering that Kolten Wong looks like a long-term starter right now at second. It’s worth noting that Newman has been connected to the Cardinals more than just about any draft prospect in major baseball publications’ mock drafts.

  • Mike Nikorak, RHP, Stroudsburg HS (PA) ranking: 15

Nikorak, an 18-year-old with a projectable 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame, already throws in the mid-to-high 90s and has great potential to be a plus starter as a pro, considering that he has an already above-average curveball and a decent changeup. As would be the case with other intriguing high school righties like Donny Everett, Nikorak could join Alex Reyes and Jack Flaherty to help the Cardinals create a trio of legitimate righthanded starting prospects under the age of 20. The main issue, of course, will be getting lucky and having Nikorak, a rising prospect, fall to the 23rd pick.

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