Welcome to your Saturday afternoon pregame reading! With the Cardinals on the road and storms all over the Midwest, it feels good to get back in the rhythm that is baseball. I have The Rookie on as a soundtrack to the second part of our look at the recently completed MLB Draft, as both State College and Johnson City kick into high gear next week.
The finale will go up just in time for the Spikes’ Opener on Monday, since only one pick has ‘officially‘ signed as of this posting. That isn’t unusual for St. Louis, however, given a press release is sure to come out just as soon as I hit send. Most likely they have the rosters in place for all three of the rookie league teams, with the GCL Cards kind of a catch-all at least to start.
Most of the talk after the draft was completed centered on the few High School players likely to sign and with good reason. There will be plenty of time for those picks to bear fruit so to speak and that leaves me to hit my favorite two parts of every draft. Both are equally important and show Randy Flores learned some solid drafting traits from those still in the organization.
While the Cards are not alone in finding special players who excelled below D1 baseball, there are always a couple of selections that jump off the page. There were two especially in this draft that count as Small School Sleepers to watch, one pitcher and one hitter. If the name Jake Walsh doesn’t jump off the page you are not alone, but how about Brett Tomko?
St. Louis snagged Walsh in the 16th round out of Florida Southern College, and more than a few had this to say. The Mocassin RHP was a finalist for the Tomko DII Pitcher of the Year and dominated to say the least his junior season. Walsh finished 12-1 on the year with a sub 1.00 WHIP and K/9 of 9.39 to show that starters can be found at every level.
On the hitting side of the ledger, one of those ‘unofficial‘ signings turned heads all the way to All-American honors. Brandon Benson, to put it plain and simple, could not have had a better senior campaign for Georgia College. Not to say he ever struggled in college, but Benson tallied 21 HR and 110 RBI combined his first three years as a Bobcat.
The 20th round pick then knocked 22 over the fence just in 2017 alone, driving in 79 RBI while scoring 74 times. Benson also just celebrated a birthday on the 13th, making it a week he will never forget. I expect him to start on the SC roster as one of the older selections of the St. Louis class but was drafted as an outfielder which means the bat will dictate where he ends up this summer.
If the Cards are able to add even a couple from this draft, it will be a success for years to come. Monday will be all about the Cape Cod impact, as those wood bats never lie! Enjoy the games this weekend with a big round of applause to all fathers who hopefully get an extra nap in along the way.