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Cards' Draft added pitching depth

Cards' Draft added pitching depth

With the 2009 season and Arizona Fall League (where several 2009 draftees got their first taste of pro ball) in the books, we take a look at the early results of each club's '09 Draft class: how their top picks did; late-round picks that fared well; which picks are likely to move up the ladder quickest; and which picks clubs were unable to sign.

The general conception of the Cardinals is that they like their college players come Draft time. They've strayed from that from time to time, taking Peter Kozma in the first round back in 2007 and, of course, Colby Rasmus in '05. In the end, though, even those Draft classes followed the norm in terms of sheer numbers of advanced college talent.

The 2009 Draft followed the same pattern, with a surprise of sorts, up top and a whole lot of college draftees after that. The surprise was Shelby Miller, the high school right-hander taken by St. Louis No. 19 overall. While there have been dalliances with prep players up top as mentioned in the previous paragraph, the last time the Cardinals took a high school pitcher in the first round was Brian Barber way back in 1991. But Miller, who had slipped a bit because of bonus demands, was too good of a talent to pass up.


NL East
ATL | FLA | NYM | PHI | WAS

AL East
BAL | BOS | NYY | TB | TOR

NL Central
CHC | CIN | HOU | MIL | PIT | STL

AL Central
CWS | CLE | DET | KC | MIN

NL West
ARI | COL | LAD | SD | SF

AL West
LAA | OAK | SEA | TEX

After that, however, the Cardinals returned to form. They signed nearly all of their picks, with all but four of the 42 signees after Miller hailing from a college or junior college program.

Top five picks

1. Shelby Miller, RHP: Miller was one of several high-end high school arms who didn't sign until deadline day and got an above-slot deal to do so. The Cardinals allowed him to get two outings, totalling three innings, with full-season Quad Cities at the end of the season, but Cardinals fans will get their first true look at the No. 19 overall pick in 2010. Then, they'll get to see the outstanding fastball that had everyone excited leading up to the Draft, as well as a pretty good curve ball and a developing changeup.

2. Robert Stock, C: Stock is a tough guy to figure out. He graduated high school early to go to USC, so he was just 19 when he was drafted as a junior. He didn't hit the way some hoped in college, so many began looking at him as a pitcher. The Cardinals, however, are letting him catch, at least for now. He hit a surprising .322/.386/.550 in 41 games with Johnson City in the Appalachian League before a late callup to Quad Cities. He's got a strong arm behind the plate and hits left-handed, so if he keeps hitting like that, he could stick back there. If not, having the mound as a backup isn't a bad thing.

3. Joe Kelly, RHP: One of the hardest things to figure out about Kelly during his time at UC Riverside is that he had such nasty stuff, yet seemed to get hit. That seemed to continue to happen in his pro debut, as the reliever allowed 33 hits in 30 1/3 IP and finished with a 4.75 ERA with Batavia in the NY-Penn League.

4. Scott Bittle, RHP: Bittle could be another college reliever who could help the Cards bullpen out, if he can stay healthy. Shoulder issues have plagued the Ole Miss product and that's a big reason why he signed for below slot this year after not signing with the Yankees in either of the previous two years. Bittle didn't pitch for the Cards last summer because of the shoulder, but there's hope he'll be able to start using that cutter on hitters in 2010.

5. Ryan Jackson, SS: Questions about Jackson's ability to hit at this level weren't answered by his pro debut. The slick-fielding shortstop hit just .216/.297/.241 in 67 games and 245 at-bats with Batavia. One of the best defenders at a premium position in the class, if he can show he can hit even a little, he'll be a big leaguer.

Best of the rest

OF Kyle Conley (7th round) was a two-time NY-Penn Player of the Week and hit .385 over 29 games for Batavia to go along with a .452 OBP and .752 SLG. ... RHP Scott Schneider (20th round) had a combined 2.04 ERA between Batavia and Quad Cities. In 70 2/3 total innings, he allowed just 51 hits for a .195 batting average against while striking out 76 vs. only 13 walks. ... 23rd rounder Matt Adams spent time with Johnson City in the Appalachian League and Batavia in the NY-Penn League and hit in both places, finishing with a combined .355/.400/.547 line in 245 at-bats. ... RHP Andrew Moss (35th round) won the Appy League ERA crown with a 1.32 mark across 54 2/3 IP before getting promoted up to Batavia at the end of the season.

Fast Risers

In a very college-heavy Draft class, there are several options for players who could move speedily through the system. College relievers are always a safe bet, though there are some with question marks here. If Kelly can start missing more bats with his plus stuff, he'll get there in a hurry. The same can be said for Bittle if he can stay healthy.

Unsigned

The Cardinals were more successful than any organization in signing Draft picks in 2009. Out of 50 total picks, only seven did not join the St. Louis system. That's right, 43 signed picks. The first 15 picks all came to terms, so the first roadblock came in the form of UC Irvine lefty Daniel Bibona in the 16th round. He went back to school for his senior season. 22nd-rounder Joey Bergman did the same thing at College of Charleston. The Cardinals didn't take too many high schoolers after Shelby Miller, but two -- SS Taylor Terrasas (39th round) and RHP Andy Hilis -- opted for college, Louisiana Tech and Tennessee, instead of signing.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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