Major League Baseball hosted the first night of the player draft on Thursday
The Cardinals selected two high school players and two college players.
St. Louis selected shortstop Delvin Perez out of the International Baseball Academy in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, with the 23rd overall pick in the opening round. This week, he tested positive for PEDs, dropping his stock. He was considered a top-five pick and has been compared to Carlos Correra of the Houston Astros, who went number one overall in 2012. Peter Gammons of MLB-TV shares his thoughts. (video below)
With the off-season signings of free agent pitcher John Lackey (#33) and outfielder Jason Heyward (#34) to the Cubs, St. Louis was awarded two first round compensation picks. They picked outfielder Dylan Carlson out of Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove, Calif, with the 33rd overall selection and right-handed pitcher Dakota Hudson out of Mississippi State University with the 34th overall selection, the final two picks of the first round.
St. Louis selected right-handed pitcher Connor Jones from the University of Virginia at #70, the last pick in the second round and the club’s final pick of the night.
Perez, 17, stands at 6-2, 180 pounds and shows quickness and a strong arm in his play at the Academy. He has good range in the field and great instincts for the game.
“We were excited to see Delvin still available at our slot,” stated Cardinals Scouting Director, Randy Flores. “He is a very young player who we have followed for several years and have a scout who has known him personally. We have spoken with Delvin and believe in his character. We all make mistakes, he’s a young kid and understands what he did is wrong. Our scouts like what they see in his natural skills and ability and we believe he can stay at shortstop.”
“This was a unique opportunity, and based on where we were picking we are excited to draft a young man with elite talent,” added Senior Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak.
Carlson, 17, is 6-3 and 195 pounds, and played primarily first base during high school. The switch-hitter batted .407 this season with nine home runs and 40 RBI in 36 games, and during his four-year high school career batted .322 with 11 homers and 104 RBI. He led his team in the playoffs, capturing the 2016 Division I Sac-Joaquin Section Championship after pitching a complete game, four hitter in the final game, striking out 10. It was the third title in four years for the Thundering Herd. Carlson, whose father Jeff is the Head Coach at Elk Grove High School, has a 3.9 GPA and a scholarship offer to play at Cal State Fullerton.
“Dylan is a physical high school centerfielder that projects as a middle-of-the-lineup hitter,” Flores said. “He has potential plus raw power and an exciting bat.”
Hudson, 21, is a right-handed pitcher out of Mississippi State, stands 6-5, 225 pounds and hails from Dunlap, Tenn. The junior went 9-4 this season in 16 starts for the Bulldogs, with a 2.62 ERA. He’s thrown three complete games, two shutouts and is scheduled to start tomorrow vs. Arizona in the Starkville Super Regional. Hudson had streaks of both 34.2 consecutive innings and 27.0 innings pitched without allowing an earned run earlier this season, setting the school record with his 34.2 scoreless stretch. He has 109 strikeouts in 106.2 IP and is one of 25 semi-finalist named to the Golden Spikes watch list.
“Dakota is a strong collegiate right handed starting pitcher. His fastball is 90-95 with good life, and we really like his cutter,” stated Flores. “We love his potential to contribute to our Major League rotation in the future.”
Jones, the Cardinals second round pick, led his Virginia team to the National Championship two years ago when he was the No. 1 starter on the team, going 7-3 and led the ACC in innings pitched (115.2) and ranked 3rd in strikeouts (113) while walking just 52. He went 1-1 in two starts during the College World Series. At 6-3 and 200 pounds, Jones was 11-1 this season with a 2.34 ERA, striking out 72 and walking only 38, and again led the ACC in innings pitched (103.2) heading into NCAA play. He was named a Second Team All-American by Baseball America. During his senior year in high school, Jones went 10-0 with a 0.00 ERA during the 2013 regular season and was named the No. 1 high school player in Virginia. He was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 21st round of the 2013 draft, but did not sign.
“We were thrilled to have Connor available to us in the second round,” Flores said. “With what he has already accomplished, I think he will continue to thrive working alongside our talented pitching coaches.”
The Royals did not have a first round pick after signing free-agent pitcher Ian Kennedy. The Cardinals had four picks, including three in the first round, for losing free agents John Lackey and Jason Heyward.
The Kansas City Royals have selected A.J. Puckett, a right-handed pitcher from Pepperdine University, with their top selection in the First-Year Player Draft, 67th overall in the second round. Puckett, 21, a 6-foot-4, 200-pounder, went 9-3 with a 1.27 ERA as a junior, posting the third-best ERA in West Coast Conference history. His season included a 45.2 consecutive scoreless innings streak for the Waves, the third-longest streak in modern college baseball history.
“We were sweating it out for a while,” Royals director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said. “College starting pitching is usually at a premium. He throws a ton of strikes. He can pitch to all quadrants. He does all things you look for in a starting pitcher. We think he’s got huge upside still left in him.”
Rounds 3-10 of the 2016 draft will be held tomorrow, Friday, beginning at 12:00 CT.