Derrick Goold had a late night interview with Jeff Luhnow regarding the draft, which he graciously put on his blog for all of us to pick over. Let’s see what we’ve got.
We did that by starting off today by taking a young shortstop (Pete Kozma) who has the tools to play shortstop. He’s a good runner. He’s a good fielder. He’s got good hands. He’s got a good arm. And most importantly for us – he can hit. He doesn’t have a lot of power right now, but neither did a lot of power-hitting shortstops until they got further into the minors. Our scouts compare him to Nomar Garciaparra, a guy who developed power a little bit later.
AZ says: I’m gonna get real tired of hearing this Garciaparra comparison real quick. Nomar slugged .603 and .599 in ’99 and ’00. I’m curious what about Kozma makes Cardinal scouts think he’s going to develop the ability to slug in the .500s as a shortstop. I haven’t heard any rationalization of it (i.e. we think he’s going to add considerable height and muscle up) from anywhere. It’s not that this couldn’t happen; it just seems highly doubtful that Kozma has a Garciaparra-type ceiling.
I don’t see Pete Kozma as a “safe” pick. I think any time you have a player with that type of athleticism and that type of bat, who has a chance to play in the big leagues, that to me is a first-round player. For me it wasn’t “safe”.
AZ says: The general consensus is that the Cardinals reached. Kozma is more of a supplemental round pick because he isn’t viewed as having a high ceiling. A non-safe pick was someone like Andrew Brackman or Porcello. Peter Kozma, fine athlete he may be, was a safe pick — especially in terms of signing dollar demands.
You can never have too many shortstops.
AZ Says: Correction, you can never have too many good shortstops. I could have 20 Angel Berroa’s. That’s too many. Again, the problem isn’t Kozma as a prospect, it’s Kozma as the Cardinals #1 draft choice.
When you’re in the (fourth) round and you have a chance to get a guy [Kyle Russell] with that kind of bat … now, obviously, we have to work on signing him. Obviously that is not a straight-forward situation.
AZ Says: Please sign him. A true right-fielder that can mash — he’d immediately land himself in the tail end of the Cardinals top 10 prospects given his power potential. He is liable to strikeout alot (we heard the same about Rasmus) so people who don’t like strikeouts should close their eyes.
Early this year, his very first outing of the year, we happened to have two scouts there. Those two scouts were not there to watch Mortensen. They were there to watch their own team. … They immediately made phones after that game and said: The best player was not on the team I went to go scout, it was this guy Mortensen.
AZ says: I’m intrigued. Tell me more.
This guy has got everything you’re looking for in a pitcher. He’s got size. He’s got stuff. [...] And he’s a groundball pitcher. He’s everything we look for in a Cardinal pitcher. Durable. He’s got the types of mechanics that we look for, that we think are going to lend themselves to durability. He’s has a breaking ball. He has a changeup. When he throws his changeup, you think it’s a fastball coming.
AZ says: Mortensen is scouted to top out at 94. He sits around 89-92 and maintains his velocity into games. That’s not terrible. I’m also reading the groundball pitcher quote and just shaking my head. Matt Harvey was still on the board here. I’m gonna have to chalk this up to some persuasive scouts because I don’t think this was a good pick — but I also wasn’t the one who went and saw Mortensen.
Yes, he’s [Mortensen] a senior. Yes, he was undrafted last year. Were we looking to get a discount? No. We were looking to get the best player available and he was, in our minds, by a long shot at that point.
AZ Says: You know Luhnow is aware of how the Cardinals are coming off right now (i.e. cheap) and he attempts to adress it and again, it’s hard to refute what he says. I don’t know what the conversations were that went on in the draft room. I do think it’s odd that for a club who signed zero major offseason free agents (not saying they didn’t spend other places or didn’t try too) they managed to snag two players that rate high on “signability” according to most.
He doesn’t need to be projectable. We saw his last four starts and he could probably pitch in the Florida State League right now.
AZ Says: (Whoosh) That was the sound of Jeff Luhnow punching me in the stomach and the air exiting my lungs. The draft is about projectability. I don’t care if he can pitch in the FSL now. Can he ever pitch in the majors??? Obviously the Cardinals think he can but that quote is distressing. I like Luhnow; I respect his work, by and large, but I vehemently disagree with saying that a draftee doesn’t need to be projectable.
He’s an extreme groundball pitcher, sinkerball pitcher.
AZ Says: I don’t even want to talk about it.
He’s going to go into pro ball and he’s going to be a better pro ball pitcher than he was a college pitcher. We’re going to look back on this draft in a few years and he’s going to be one of the superstars of this draft.
AZ Says: Well I hope he’s better in pro ball cause he wasn’t that good in college. I’ll say it right here: I do not think Clayton Mortensen is going to be a superstar. I hope he proves me wrong.
No, no it’s not (conservative). We had several high school players that we were going to take. Players were taken right in front of us that we were going to take. That happened a lot to us. With the high school players though, after a certain point it takes a lot of money to convince these guys not to go to school. That does become a consideration. We’re trying to be a good citizens and stick to our budget and do all the things that will ultimately help stabilize the economics of the draft and we did. [...] Those players were the best players on our board that we knew were signable – with the exception of Russell – at every single pick along the way.
AZ says: Luhnow responds to criticism that taking college arms is safe. He does say that they could target HS players in the second day. That line in the middle — “stabalize the economics of the draft” — is pure bumpkis. This smacks of DeWitt not opening the purse strings for players. I get that it’s hard to convince HS players not to go to college. They want money. I’m not asking for EVERY player to require a large signing bonus but preserving the economics of the draft is the last thing I’m concerned about.
Porcello is one of the best high school pitchers that’s been in any draft the last couple years. The reality of it is: Given our understanding of what it was going to take to get that deal done relative to the probability of a player like that – there are a lot of players like Porcello that have gone high in the draft, been given a lot of money, and when you look at the chance that this guy pays back that investment, it’s not a slam dunk.
AZ Says: I’ll get off my Porcello soapbox now. There were a lot of teams (the 12 or so immediately before the Cardinals and another 9 after) that were scared off by his monetary concerns. Don’t make any mistake though — Porcello was the best pitcher available after Price. It’s unfortunate that money plays this large of a role in the draft but it’s fact.
We’ll take a look at it there. … Right now, given the fact we’re full at Quad Cities with good pitchers, they’ll probably all start in short-season.
AZ Says: All the college pitchers are going to just short-season ball????? That means they won’t see full season till they are 23????? Ugh. Tick Tock Tick Tock. College pitchers are drafted because they are supposed to move through the system quickly. Starting them off in short-season isn’t a good start to this.
Luhnow is a very smart man. The Cardinals have a lot of information that we as the general public don’t. I still don’t like this draft. His comments on Kozma are mildly reassuring but what I can’t say enough is that it isn’t Kozma as a prospect that I have a problem with; it’s Kozma as the top draft choice.