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The St. Louis Cardinals 2017 MLB Draft strategy had to be a unique one as the club did not have a first round pick because of the signing of Dexter Fowler and they lost their second round and supplemental second round picks due to the Houston Astros hacking scandal. The Cards draft began with Round 3. What this really means is the club had less money to spend on draftees, in fact, the least amount by any MLB team and it’s not really close. The Indians had the second lowest bonus pool at $3,829,000 while the Cardinals had just $2,176,000.

Even though the Cardinals were limited, they made some pretty exciting picks in a high risk, high reward draft strategy. First, let’s take a look at where the club saved money in the draft.

3rd rounder Scott Hurst signed for $450,000 while the bonus assigned for that slot was $570,900.

4th rounder Kramer Robertson signed for $150,000 while the bonus assigned for that slot was $424,800.

9th rounder Evan Kruczynski signed for $3,000 while the bonus assigned for that slot was $140,600.

10th rounder Brett Seeburger signed for $3,000 while the bonus assigned for that slot was $132,800.

That is a savings of $663,100 just with those four picks. If you add in the 5% the club can go over, you get a total of $771,900 that the club could use to lure some of their higher risk/reward draftees.

Here are the draft picks that received over-slot deals from the Cardinals.

6th Round – Zach Jackson

Jackson was lured away from a commitment to National Champion University of Florida with a $400,000 signing bonus, which was roughly $150,000 over-slot. Jackson was rated the 182nd best prospect according to Baseball America and here is what they had to say about him.

Jackson is an intriguing, lefthanded-hitting catcher, who will be drafted more for his bat than his present defensive ability behind the plate. He improved his frame and arm strength this spring, though teams remain concerned that he may not be able to stick at catcher thanks to footwork concerns. At times he struggles receiving, leading to passed balls. Offensively, he has 60-grade raw power with an uppercut swing path and a pull-oriented approach. He’s got above-average bat speed, but his swing can get long and some scouts worry about a hole in his swing inside on his hands. However, if he gets a mistake pitch, he will hit it a long way. Jackson’s profile as a lefthanded hitting catcher in a class that’s weak at the position could push him into the first five rounds if he can be signed out of his commitment to Florida.

I honestly don’t really care if Jackson sticks as a catcher. If his 60 grade power works out. he can be just fine at first base. This, along with a couple other picks should actually bring excitement to fans.

7th Round – Chase Pinder

Pinder, from Clemson, received a bonus of $300,000, which was a little over $100,000 over-slot. While his skill set is much different, Pinder’s style of play reminds me a lot of Harrison Bader. The Cardinals will try to keep him at center, but he may have to move eventually. Pinder isn’t as high risk/reward as others, but he did get a significant over-slot deal. Pinder, who’s older brother plays with the Oakland A’s, was ranked the 279th best prospect by Baseball America and here is their report on him.

Pinder is a performing college hitter who plays a capable center field. It can’t hurt that his older brother Chad was having a fine big league rookie season with the Athletics. The younger Pinder hit better in ACC play than he had overall and plays a capable center field, though he’s not the gliding, rangy or quick player typically found in big league outfields. He’s more of a fourth outfielder with enough arm strength for the role. Just an average runner, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Pinder is a smart baserunner and grinder who gets the most out of his tools by drawing walks, hitting mistakes to the gaps and occasionally over the fence.

8th Round – Wilberto Rivera

Rivera, who the Cardinals took out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, is the definition of high risk/reward. He has been clocked as high as 97, but has seemed to settle in the 90-93 range. The Cardinals minor league pitching staff will have their work cut out for him as he lacks any decent secondary offerings. My guess is Rivera is bound for a bullpen role, but if he can develop a couple off-speed pitches, he could become a dominant starter. Rivera received a bonus that was nearly $200,000 over-slot, so the Cards must think they can make him a starter.

14th round – Donivan Williams

There isn’t much out there on Williams, but he was given an over-slot deal of $300,000 with the slot of every round after 10 being $125,000 so $175k counts towards the Cards pool. Williams was a shortstop in high school, but that could possibly change. His strength is his hitting.

15th round – Terry Fuller

Fuller is the most intriguing name the Cardinals drafted this year. He was a high school football player who as being recruited by all the big name schools. He chose baseball and if he didn’t sign was headed the Junior College route. Fuller is the extreme high risk, high reward prospect. His ceiling is that of a middle-of-the-order bat that can mash 40 home runs, but his baseball skills are very raw and he will likely spend a lot of time in the lower minor leagues. Baseball America projected him as a third to fifth round pick, so the Cardinals could have gotten a steal. Like with Rivera, Cards minor league instructors will have their work cut out for him, but Fuller could be that bat that Cards fans are clamoring for.

The theme of these prospects appears to be “power”. Power bats with Jackson and Fuller and a power arm in Rivera. Cardinals fans are fine with the club taking these type of risks in hopes of finding a game changing bat or arm. These players have a long way to go, but you never know what will happen.

Thanks for reading!

John Nagel
@CardinalsFarm