Cardinals use first-round pick to draft strike-throwing college pitcher

By Rob Rains

There is one entry on Michael McGreevy’s college pitching resume this season which should immediately be of interest to fans who have watched the Cardinals all year.

In 101 innings for UC Santa Barbara, facing a total of 425 batters, he issued 11 walks.

In his three years in college, he walked a total of 31 batters in 189 innings, an average of less than 1 ½ walks per nine innings. In 16 starts this season, he never walked more than two batters in a game.

“When you look at his body of work it doesn’t take an analyst to look at someone who has impeccable control and the body and athleticism that we were really drawn to,” said Randy Flores, the assistant general manager and director of scouting. “We can’t wait to get him in our organization.”

The Cardinals selected the 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander with their first-round pick in the draft on Sunday night, the 18th overall selection.

“Watching him command the baseball, he just has a great feel for the zone and he takes a lot of pride in the way he pitches,” Flores said. “He almost has a phobia of walking hitters. He speaks about he would rather give up hits.”

McGreevy said during a zoom call Sunday night that he developed that attitude in college from Andrew Checketts, his coach at Santa Barbara, a school that also produced the Indians’ Shane Bieber.

“He instilled that in me, to be competitive on the mound,” McGreevy said. “You’ve got to do what you can to compete and walking is just not competing.”

One of the other factors that led Flores and the Cardinals to select the 21-year-old McGreevy was how he dedicated himself to getting better during the pandemic, adding weight that allowed him to increase his fastball velocity to the mid 90s without losing his command.

“What we saw in Michael was someone who took ownership of his development on his own,” Flores said. “He came away from the pandemic throwing harder, he was stronger and still had that ability to attack hitters within the zone with all his pitches. It was very attractive to us.”

McGreevy said it was a conscious decision to use the time during the pandemic wisely.

“I really kind of wanted to focus on my body because I knew there was a lot more velocity in there,” McGreevy said. “I look a lot bigger now when I look at myself in the mirror but there is plenty of room to grow.”

He said he knew when the college season was canceled in the spring of 2020 that it would be several months before players would be allowed back on the field.

“I knew some guys around the country weren’t going to take this seriously,” McGreevy said. “It’s just a process of always wanting to get better and never being content. That kind of stuck with me and drove my whole work ethic.”

McGreevy was 9-2 in those 16 starts this season with a 2.92 ERA, recording 115 strikeouts. In his college career, he allowed only 10 homers in those 189 innings.

He said he didn’t know he was going to be picked by the Cardinals until shortly before the selection was announced. He has two connections to the organization, having played high school baseball in San Clemente, Calif., with Andre Pallante, now pitching for Double A Springfield, and he was a teammate in college with outfielder Tommy Jew, now playing in Palm Beach.

The draft will continue with rounds 2 through 10 on Monday and rounds 11 through 20 on Tuesday. The Cardinals’ next pick, in the second round, will be the 54th overall selection.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports

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