ST. LOUIS -- After taking a pair of high-school position players with their first two picks in the 2016 MLB Draft, the Cardinals balanced out their Day One selections with two college pitchers, the latter of which has the potential to be one of the quickest risers taken by any club on Thursday.
That would be Connor Jones, a junior right-hander out of the University of Virginia and the 70th overall pick by the Cardinals. At that Draft position, Jones has a recommended slot value of $920,100.
• 23rd overall: Delvin Perez
• 33rd overall: Dylan Carlson
• 34th overall: Dakota Hudson
Jones, who helped UVA win its first NCAA title last season, went 11-1 with a 2.34 ERA as the club's primary Friday night starter in 2016. His strikeout total -- 72 in 103 2/3 innings -- wasn't especially impressive, but the Cardinals were drawn to his ability to use his sinker to get outs early in the count.
"He has the ability to get the ball on the ground," scouting director Randy Flores said. "It's a scary thing to be on the mound and have no bullet to get someone out. I think he knows that no matter what he brings to the mound, he has a ball that can hit the bottom part of the bat."
With that efficiency, Jones logged more innings than any other Atlantic Coast Conference pitcher during the regular season.
Though his ceiling may not be as high as other college arms that went in the first two rounds on Thursday, Jones is considered by scouts to be a safer bet to reach his potential. He features a low-90s fastball that can reach 93-94 mph, as well as two breaking pitches and a changeup.
The Cardinals were one of two teams to make three first-round selections after netting the extra compensatory picks because of the winter departures of Jason Heyward and John Lackey.
The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 12 p.m. CT.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.