MLB slices Cards’ life line

We’ve been fortunate….the Cardinals have consistently put a competitive team on the field for several years now. The last time that the Cardinals were under .500 for the season was 1999! In the most recent decade–1990’s the Cardinals held a record of 899-721 .555. Since Bill DeWitt has purchased the team, the club has continually provided players through the draft. The Cards success in drafting can be seen easily …just look on the field right now at the many home grown players….Yadi Molina, Kolton Wong, Paul DeJong, Matt Carpenter are the proven vets in the field. Harrison Bader, Tommy Edman, Lane Thomas, Dylan Carlson, Andrew Knizer are working to get on the field. Vital members of the pitching staff include many home-grown players—Carlos Martinez, Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, Daniel Ponce deLeon, Austin Gomber, Ryan Helsley. The Cards life-line has been their drafting & development. That process will be challenged this year!!!
…One of the latest agreements between MLB & Players union is to modify the draft. This coming year it will only be 5 rounds. After that draft, all undrafted free agents must be signed for $20,000. The Cards life-line—the draft—has been radically slashed. This modification has been developed to save the MLB owners money. A five-round draft would have 160 picks, would mean it’s a 87-percent reduction in the number of picks from the last (2019) draft, where 1,217 players were selected. The draft was reduced from 50 rounds to 40 rounds in 2012. In 1998, the draft was limited to 50 rounds. Prior to 1998, teams had an unlimited number of picks! The worst example is in 1996 when the Yankees selected players for 100 rounds –wonder how many weeks THAT draft took to finish Even Mel Kiper would have run out of info!!! Just last year, the Cards drafted 40 players. This change in the draft system will certainly save the owners money ….but….consider…
…from the draftees point of view, this is really a shaft job….the MLB, apparently in an attempt to restrain themselves from outbidding each other, assign a monetary “slot” value for each of the first 10 rounds of the draft in a “normal” draft. Teams are to pay that value or be very close to it. The total of all their slots in the draft is calculated and referred to as the Teams “draft pool”. If a team exceeds its assigned quota for its draft pool, the team faces a penalty. Teams that outspend their allotment by 0-5 percent, the team pay a 75 percent tax on the overage. Penalties increase as the overage increases.
For 5-10% overage, clubs lose a first-round pick the following year and a 75 percent tax for surpassing their pool. 1st-& 2nd-round picks and a 100 percent tax are applied for 10-15% percent overage. For more than 15 percent of the assigned allotment, the loss of two 1st-rounders and a 100 percent tax are the penalty..ouch!
…Notice I said values on the first 10 rounds! Not only 5 rounds like it is going to be in 2020. For example, the allotment for slots in the 6th round last year ranged from $301,000 (1st of round 6 ) to $237,000 (last pick of round 6). Even in round 10, in 2019 the slot allotments ranged from $147,000 to $142,000. I believe that the first 5 rounds of the draft will use the “draft pool” concept. After that it’s open season…every player gets $20000. So they say…I really don’t believe that these teams will discipline themselves that well…they want the most highly rated players. I think that they’ll be unable to hold to that $20000 figure. If a team really wants a player that they didn’t draft, common sense tells me that there will bonuses/“incentives”/promises of some kind for these players.
…the “pickings” of the 2020 draft may be…probably …WILL be …slimmer this year. I would assume that many players that are rated good but not real, real high will sit out this draft. Why sign for $20,000 this year when one would think that the 2021 draft figures will bounce back up next year. Further, current college Seniors have been given another year by the NCAA. If a Senior isn’t sure of his draft evaluation, he may remain in college for an additional year. This would shorten the number of quality college players for 2020 and may overload the crop in 2021.
…this will present an extra challenge for scouts/agents of all teams to convince the draftees to sign…. if he isn’t in that top 5 rounds, should he sign for $20000? Will he then be willing to bounce around on bus rides, modest….at best… living quarters, become a mickey-D junkie for a couple… maybe… several years without having that larger bonus to fall back on?
….many of the Cardinals stars of the past were drafted far beyond the 5th round in recent times….the most startling examples were each drafted in the 13th round– Albert Pujols- in 1989; in 1999 it was Matt Carpenter. Two 1B of similar builds– Matt Adams and Luke Voit, both former catchers taken in the 23rd round and 22nd round in 2009 and 2013 respectively. So, the Cards HAVE found productive MLB players in the late rounds…but this year…. there won’t be ANY late rounds.
…Having only 5 draft choices means that the Cards need to hit on almost all of them. But..as one scans the most recent Cardinals #1 picks of recent years, there have provided mixed results—2019 Zach Thompson (LHP-starter)-had a 4.05 @ Class A+-Palm Beach last year. Cards also signed their 2nd round pick for $1m-Trejyn Fletcher; in 2018, picks were: Nolan Gorman (early signs are good-very young) Griffin Roberts(at Palm Beach(Palm Beach) was 1-7 last year); 2017-no #1 pick (lost it due to interfering with Houston); 2016-3 #1’s– Delvin Perez-hit .269 last year with 117 strikeouts in 118 games..I’m not holding my breath on him! Dylan Carlston-very promising; Dakota Hudson-strong 1st year with Cards; In 2015-two #1’s—Sadly, Nick Plummer—hit .176 @ Palm Beach last year but on the up side– Jacob Woodford has already reached Memphis-AAA level—that’s a good sign. 2014 also had two 1st round picks—both strong to very good—Jack Flaherty & Luke Weaver. 2013 saw the Cards also have two 1st round picks—Marco Gonzalez (very strong choice–5 seasons in MLB 34-25 record-traded for Tyler O’Neill)& Rob Kaminsky(been in minors 6 years-no taste of MLB yet). Amazingly, in 2012 the Cards had 5 1st round picks—Michael Wacha & Stephen Piscotty were wonderful picks. Much less from Patrick Wisdom-has played 41 MLB games as a 28 year old; James Ramsey & Steve Bean –wash outs. In 2011 Kolton Wong was the #1—starting player for several years now-strong choice(meaning he’s an every day player—maybe not a HOF’er but contributes to the MLB Cardinals winning games. So…choosing #1 picks for the Cards over the past 10 years has been a hit/miss proposition. The Cardinals CAN NOT afford to miss on these 5 draft picks in 2020!!!
…soooo…where does this put the Cards…they have to be a combination of a college recruiter & businessman. If I were in their shoes, I’d have the top 250 amateurs rated prior to the draft. In the 5 round MLB draft, 150 will be drafted. I’d contact the highest rated prospective players prior to the draft who you feel will be available after the draft by sending them an unsigned contract. Then, immediately after the 5 rounds, call those players, ask them to sign right there and then and Fax it in to us immediately! You can’t talk long…no discussions about mom & dad, weather, Bob’s Blog, etc. As always the evaluations must be strong but in this case, speed is required to lock up the best amateur free agents. The Cards have built their success on having a strong life-line of players from the draft to populate their roster….it’ll face many new hurdles & challenges in 2020!
….last week I looked at the Minor League situation, these MiLB teams at the lower levels are filled with recently drafted players. Sure…..teams can just go out and sign non-drafted players but… are they capable of advancing up the ladder to the MLB or are they just filling a slot right now at a lower level? Btw….I learned this week from a reader (TU!!) that the Cardinals already own their AAA team in Memphis & their AA team in Springfield. Sooo…my suggestion that the MLB teams own all their MiLB teams may already be in process. On the other side, the MLB has decided ….apparently, to shut down 42 minor league teams this season. This decision went against the wishes of many GM/scouts since the huge cost of scouting & player development on these players is being completely discarded.
….as I mentioned previously, the MLB Players Union is working hard for their MLB players…as they should….but they’ve completely ignored MiLB players, players to be drafted, players from foreign countries. Some day…some of those guys will be MLB players…..what will their attitude be towards the MLB union after being thrown overboard by the union prior to reaching the MLB?
…I’d love to read your thoughts about these ideas on the upcoming draft…post on Facebook (preferred) or mail to me. Then, I’ll post them with your initials on Facebook . If you’d like me to email the blog to you directly, just send me a note through messenger with your email. Thanks!

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