Cards get final look at players before Draft
St. Louis hosts workout for eligible talent, including local, at Busch Stadium
ST. LOUIS -- Just two days before the Cardinals will make their first three selections in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, they hosted approximately 20 players -- about half of whom played high school ball locally -- to the last of four organizational workouts.
This one took place at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, lasting for about three hours and featuring players who the Cardinals have already scouted heavily as part of their pre-Draft preparation. With all of the organization's scouts in St. Louis for meetings leading up to the three-day Draft, the timing of the workout allowed for dozens of eyes to give one final evaluation.
"We can't really make any decisions based on what we see in a workout, but it can complement what we've seen in the games," said Dan Kantrovitz, the Cardinals' second-year scouting director. "Our scouts have been following these kids all spring and, in some cases, for a couple years. This can get a kid in a setting where all the scouts see him, our general manager can lay eyes on him. It just helps complete the picture when we're talking about them in the Draft room."
Among those attending the Cardinals' workout were two shortstops who rank among the top 50 in MLB.com's Top 100 Draft prospects list: No. 25 Tim Anderson of East Central Community College in Mississippi and No. 50 Travis Demeritte of Winder Barrow High School in Georgia. A third shortstop, Stephen Alemais of Elevate Baseball Academy in Florida, also participated.
Kantrovitz cautioned against inferring that the saturation of shortstop participation on Tuesday would suggest the Cardinals are eyeing one with their early picks. The club has two first-round selections (Nos. 19 and 28) and will choose again at No. 57. All those picks will be made on Thursday, after the Draft starts at 7 p.m. ET, live on MLB Network and simulcast on MLB.com.
Some scouts project that Anderson will eventually move to center field, while Demeritte is viewed by some as a candidate to slide to third base.
"I think that's a conversation that takes up a lot of time in our Draft room. Does this guy stick at the position?" Kantrovitz said. "And shortstop is no different because you can slide both ways -- to second or third -- or to center field in some cases."
Eleven pitchers took the Busch Stadium mound to throw Tuesday. They included 6-foot-9 right-hander Brian Howard of St. Louis University High School, as well two pitchers from Missouri high schools who are expected to go within the Draft's first few rounds -- right-hander Devin Williams of Hazelwood West and left-hander Jake Brentz of Parkway South.
Of all the pitchers the Cardinals saw on Tuesday, Williams is expected to come off the board first.
"Hopefully, I showed well enough today to raise my draft stock a little bit," Williams said, shortly after throwing. "It's been my dream to play for the Cardinals since I was a little kid. But any team would be fine by me."
Williams said he has had in-home meetings with 27 Major League teams and met with the Cardinals earlier this spring at Busch Stadium. The Red Sox and Yankees each sent a psychiatrist to provide an evaluation. The Braves and Nationals were the only two clubs not to schedule a personal visit.
Williams, whose fastball sat around 90-94 mph during the high school season, hit 96 mph on the radar gun Tuesday. He is currently committed to the University of Missouri-Columbia but said that he would be willing to forgo college if the circumstance is right.
"If I feel it's the right team that will help me develop and get me to the Major Leagues quickly, and the signing bonus is important, too," said Williams, who added that he set the goal of becoming a first-round Draft pick before his senior season.
Following the workout, the Cardinals' scouting team retreated to continue its pre-Draft work. Kantrovitz estimated that the group had already ranked its top 50 prospects on its Draft board. By the time the Draft commences on Thursday, the board will list the organization's 100 preferred amateur players.
The Cardinals would have normally held this workout further out from the Draft but were limited in their options due to Busch Stadium being used for a soccer game in late May. This workout was also smaller than the other three the team hosted during the spring. Workouts in Jupiter, Fla., Compton, Calif., and Houston drew about 30-40 Draft prospects apiece.
When it came to determining who to invite to Busch Stadium, the Cardinals focused heavily on local talent. Those who came from out of state were either unable to attend an earlier workout or had caught the Cardinals' attention a little later in the spring season. Due to their status as amateur players, all participants had to pay their own way to St. Louis.
"We're being cognizant that we're taking a lot of time during our Draft meetings to do this, so we want to make sure that we're making it count," Kantrovitz said. "We're fortunate this year in the sense that there is a really good group of local kids. And the vast majority of them were able to get out here today and you can't really tell from the talent standpoint the difference between the local kids today and the non-local kids. They're all really good players."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.