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Wacha No. 19 pick.jpg

Michael Wacha pitches for Texas A&M against Missouri in the second inning of a Big 12 Conference tournament baseball game in Oklahoma City on May 24. The Cardinals selected Wacha with the No. 19 pick in Monday’s Major League Baseball Draft. 

Sue Ogrocki/The Associated Press

The Cardinals had an opportunity to restock their talent base at the top of the 2012 amateur draft, thanks to compensatory picks gained for free agents lost.

How did they do in their first draft since player development czar Jeff Luhnow departed to run the Houston Astros? I will yield the floor to independent experts for their assessments of the top picks:

Pick No. 19 — Michael Wacha, P, Texas A&M

Jason A. Churchill, “Wacha’s calling card is a fastball-changeup-command combination that could push him through to the big leagues rather quickly. He’s 6-foot-6 and has good arm speed and a consistent delivery. He uses both a curveball and slider, but both are below average. The Cardinals could slide Wacha into their rotation in a few years behind their young stable of Shelby Miller (2009 first-round pick) and Carlos Martinez.”

Jim Callis, Baseball America: “Good stuff, even better command and compete. Nice value for Cardinals at 19.”

Dave Perkin, “Wacha works unusually quickly, barely giving hitters a chance to breathe between pitches. Mechanically sound, he fires a low 90’s fastball which peaks at 95-96 mph, adding an outstanding 74-76 mph two plane curve and a superlative 86 mph change. Wacha’s 84 mph slider will require refinement. A Dan Haren-sized workhorse, Wacha profiles as a top of the rotation starting pitcher, capable of winning 15 plus games per season.”

Conor Glassey, Baseball America: “Wacha is one of the most polished pitchers in this year’s class and is a great value at No. 19, as we had him rated as the 11th-best player in the draft.”

Pick No. 23 — James Ramsey, OF, Florida State

Kiley McDaniel, “Ramsey is a performer that’s short on tools, but there’s enough here to be a low-end everyday player. He has good bat speed and bat head awareness in a line-drive stroke. Ramsey has been a performer everywhere he’s gone, including the Cape Cod League, and has average raw power that could hit 15-18 homers in the big leagues. He has a thick frame but is an above-average runner with great instincts that play up in the field and on the bases. Some teams think he could stick in center while others think he fits in right field, where his solid-average arm will play. He’s already 22 as a college senior but could go straight to High-A and move quickly.”

Glassey: “Ramsey has a solid left-handed bat and hit .385/.520/.683 this season. He has some speed and could play center field or second base. His tools grade out as average to slightly above and he’s a good all-around player, but none of his tools jump off the page. As a senior, Ramsey will likely sign for a deal below the slot value of $1.775 for this pick.”

Keith Law, “I get the appeal of a college senior in this draft system, where saving 30 percent of a pick’s bonus can allow you to grab a more expensive player somewhere else. But the Cardinals burned a first-round pick on Ramsay, a low-upside college performer (against players nearly all younger than his age of 22.5) whose ceiling might be fourth outfielder as he lacks the power to profile in a corner. Taking him with better college position players like (Deven) Marrero and (Richie) Shaffer still on the board makes no sense to me.”

Callis: “Not just a discount guy, legit talent. Might wind up at 2B.”

Perkin: “Almost every scouting department employs a ‘stat guy’ — a numbers man who mixes field reports with sabermetric formulas. Ramsey is a Moneyball fan’s dream. A skilled, mechanically sound lefthanded hitter, Ramsey posts astronomical on-base and slugging percentages. His non-hitting tools (run, throw and field) are rather ordinary. Ramsey no doubt holds enormous appeal to the cadre of saber-stat oriented ballclubs.”

Pick No. 36 — Stephen Piscotty, 3B/OF, Stanford

John Manuel, Baseball America: “Polished hitter, but defensive questions without power for corner outfield.”

Churchill: “Piscotty is the rare bat who appears unfazed by Stanford’s teachings in the batter’s box. He has power and an above-average hit tool and recently moved to left field, which could be his position for the future.”

Callis: “Surprised one of better college bats lasted this long.”

Perkin: “Last summer, Piscotty was the top hitter in college baseball’s elite wood bat circuit, the Cape Cod League. His basketball forward’s frame enables him to cover all of the plate and strike zone. Piscotty starts with his weight on his back leg, waving the bat back and forth before unleashing an Evan Longoria type power swing. Piscotty’s non-hitting tools (run, throw and field) are bland. He has played 3B and LF this season, but Piscotty may eventually morph into a 1B/DH type.”

Pick No. 52 — Patrick Wisdom, 3B, St. Mary’s

Churchill: “Wisdom struggled this spring but has power and profiles well at third long-term. The hit tool is the big question.”

Manuel: “Most scouts like Wisdom’s defense and makeup; this spring has raised questions about how much he’ll hit.”

Perkin: “Sporting a strong, mature, broad shouldered big league third baseman’s build, Wisdom is a smooth defender blessed with a powerful arm and slick fielding skills. At bat, he struggled early in the season and finished below .300. Scouts have reservations about Wisdom’s capacity to consistently catch up with quality pitching. However, Wisdom can blast any mistake left out over the plate over the distant fences.”

Pick No. 59 — Steve Bean, C, Rockwall (Texas) High School

Churchill: “Bean, a Texas commit, has risen up draft boards this spring — enough so that he may have a shot to stick at catcher, where his plus arm is put to good use and his left-handed bat is very intriguing.”

Manuel: “Attractive profile because of plus arm strength and LH bat.”

Perkin: “A catcher’s most important tool is his throwing arm, and Bean boasts a sensational one that promises to shut down running games by frightening would-be base thieves. As with most high schoolers, Bean will need to gain experience in fielding his position, calling pitches and managing a staff. His bat does not project as huge but should be serviceable for his position.”


So there you go. It sounds like Cards went for some fast-risers to quickly fortify the organization. Might this make it easier for the team to trade some prospects this summer to fill immediate needs?

Jeff Gordon is a Lee News Service columnist. He can be reached at or (314) 340-8187.


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