By Rob Rains
There was nothing intentional about the Cardinals using all eight of their day two picks in the amateur draft on Monday on college players.
Their draft board just lined up that way.
“Every draft has its own flavor and its own structure,” said Randy Flores, the Cardinals’ assistant general manager and scouting director. “We were very close to tapping the high school ranks several times, but ultimately once you get out of those first three rounds or so, not only for us but for most organizations, will tend to lean toward the college class because signability comes into play.
“That being said there are some intriguing options tomorrow and we will do our due diligence and see if there is a fit for us to tap the high school ranks.”
Counting their first and second-round picks on Sunday night, all 10 of the Cardinals’ selections have come from the college ranks.
“Relative to past drafts, this wound up leaning college heavy,” Flores said.
One analysis of all of the picks in the top 10 rounds found that 83 percent of the selections were college players, the highest percentage since 1992.
The Cardinals began the day by selecting their third consecutive lefthanded pitcher, Pete Hansen, from the University of Texas. That also was not intentional, Flores said.
“The way our board wound up falling, which was to college players, was a part of the process, and that process did not begin by us saying, ‘Let’s not scout high school players,’” Flores said. “Similarly, our process led to three college lefthanded selections but our process did not begin by saying, ‘Hey everyone go out and scout the lefthanders.’
“Honestly, if those players were a combination of performance and scouting evaluation that we would have favored and been righthanded, then our first three selections might have been righthanded.”
Hansen was 11-3 this season for the Longhorns with 120 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 107 innings.
The Cardinals’ eight picks on day two included the one lefthanded pitcher, four righthanded pitchers, a catcher and two outfielders.
Two of their picks, seventh-rounder Alex Iadisernia, an outfielder from Elon University, and eighth-rounder Cade Winquest, a righthanded pitcher from Texas-Arlington, were among the approximately 25 players who attended the Cardinals’ pre-draft workout in Jupiter, Fla.
The two other position player selections were catcher Jimmy Crooks, from national runnerup Oklahoma, in the fourth round, and West Virginia outfielder Victor Scott in the fifth round.
Crooks hit .311 and was credited by the Oklahoma coaches for his leadership in the Sooners’ run to the NCAA College World Series. Scott set a school record with 38 stolen bases and was ranked by most draft experts as one of the fastest players in the draft.
“When you get to that fifth round, and you start looking for some standout tools, this is someone who has a great run grade,” Flores said. “You have his 38 stolen bases, a lefthanded bat, with sneaky impact, along with a big run tool, that was a selection we came away with feeling very pleased.”
Their other picks were Max Rajcic, a righthanded pitcher from UCLA in the sixth round, Joseph King, a righthanded pitcher from Cal-Berkeley in the ninth round, and Tanner Jacobson, a righthanded pitcher from Queens University of Charlotte, a Division II school, in the 10th round.
This was the first time since 2019 that the Cardinals were able to have all of their scouts, along with employees of the baseball development and analytics departments, together for the draft.
“It was a return to normalcy that we really embraced,” Flores said. “It affords a sense of teamwork. In this game and in drafts, not all of the picks work out. But to get everyone pulling in the same direction, to have some of transparency where people understand the why behind a pick I think is of upmost importance.
“Additionally, draft picks happen very fast and the pace is very fast. Having scouts in the room, being able to handle the nuance of a pocket being picked with someone picking a player right in front of you, and having a backup and having an agent on call, I think is another benefit of having everyone in the room.
“The energy of a packed house, across multiple departments, was really special this last week.”
The draft will conclude on Tuesday with rounds 11 to 20.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
Photo of Pete Hansen by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports