Breaking down the draft takes years to fully decide if it was productive or not as a whole. While the first few rounds get most of the attention, it takes the grinders moving up one rung of the ladder each year that establish an organization. The Cardinals have been blessed with success from the top down, but that begins with the teams where everyone starts on the same level.
Days one and two of the draft typically involve the big money decisions, just because you are handling nearly all of the players who hold the leverage. High School and Junior College athletes 99% of the time have D1 offers in hand well before getting drafted with new rules cutting down on the negotiation period.
This makes having a solid strategy even greater, something St. Louis scouting directors have seemingly perfected. Randy Flores took over just last year and couldn’t possibly have had a harder situation to walk into not only from the team but baseball operations altogether. Once Flores stopped playing, he went back to school at USC and started a successful business before things turned upside down under the Arch.
And what does Flores do with his very first pick running the show? He takes a potential franchise altering shortstop who had flunked a drug test for performance-enhancing drugs right before the draft. So yes, Flores proved he was up to the challenge right away but last year was nothing compared to 2017.
The only thing that needs to be said now about the hacking scandal thankfully is that everyone can put it to bed. Draft picks exchanged hands, the Cardinals paid the price and then some, and baseball will continue as it should. Flores wasn’t even part of the front office then, so in some way that gives him a pass even with a full year to navigate the deep waters.
What I am going to do now that the draft is over and before the signings begin will be broken down over the next few days right up until Johnson City and State College take the field. No one has applauded St. Louis or Flores for a job well done, and surely that goes without saying. All parties knew how difficult playing on an uneven field would be and truthfully, I really didn’t expect to be blown away this much.
The Cardinals had 38 picks and selected only eight from the High School ranks. I looked at each of the past five drafts, and that number is the lowest. They also passed up every JUCO player available, instead looking for a specific type that fills a need now. Given the bonus pool constraints, there shouldn’t be many issues getting them signed and on the field where the real fun begins.
And to be honest, it has been a real tough calendar year for St. Louis fans when you think about it. We all could use some positive motivation, and the 2017 draft will certainly go down as a historic one for the Birds on the Bat. Enjoy your Thursday everyone and stop back by Saturday for Part 2!