06/07/2004 8:13 PM ET
Cardinals go to college in draft
All 18 picks on Day 1 are college players
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
|The Cardinals were pleasantly surprised to get Mike Ferris in the second round. (courtesy Miami U.)
ST. LOUIS -- Higher education was the priority for the Cardinals in the First-Year Player Draft on Monday, as St. Louis took college players with all 18 of its selections. The Cards didn't even draft a junior college player until the 13th round.
Headed by Boston College right-hander Chris Lambert, the Redbirds drafted pitchers in three of the first four rounds, then moved on to adding some position players. They got a potential steal with second-round pick (No. 60 overall) Mike Ferris, a slugging first baseman from Miami University in Ohio.
"Shocked," said assistant general manager and scouting director John Mozeliak, when asked about Ferris' availability. "We contemplated him at 19, to be honest with you. We heard he was even going before us (in the first round) at one point. So it was something that never even crossed my mind at 60. The fact that he was there was a nice surprise and I'm really happy that we got him."
Other notable picks included All-American second baseman Jarrett Hoffpauir from the University of Southern Mississippi (sixth round) and Hoffpauir's double-play mate, shortstop Matt Shepherd (eighth).
The Redbirds selected one player with significant local ties, left-hander Eric Haberer from Southern Illinois University (third). The final selection of the day, shortstop Cameron Blair from Texas Tech, put up excellent numbers against top-caliber competition in the Big 12 conference.
The selections showed a preference for middle infielders. St. Louis drafted five players listed as second basemen and/or shortstops. With Edgar Renteria a free agent after the season and Tony Womack at best a short-term solution at shortstop -- not to mention a dearth of middle infield prospects in the minor leagues -- middle infielders were a definite area of need.
It was not by design that the Redbirds didn't take any high school players, though a preference for college draftees has lingered for some time in St. Louis.
"We still have some work ahead of us," Mozeliak said. "We're a little thin down low, and obviously we went college. Believe it or not, everybody assumed we were gonna do that but that was not the plan. The plan was just to take the best players available. When guys like Ferris fell, we took them because we believed they were that type of quality."
Here are the round-by-round picks, with comments:
Chris Lambert, RHP, Boston College: "He does pitch up. It's an arm-strength guy. When you're picking where we pick, you're not gonna get the perfect polished guy right there because they go higher. But he's someone that when you grade out in terms of upside and tools, he fits that mold." -- Mozeliak.
Mike Ferris, 1B, Miami University: Ferris was ranked as the No. 22 prospect in the draft recently by Baseball America. He's a left-handed hitter with power and a good eye at the plate, and he has the ability to hit to the opposite field.
"He's a strong kid that we believe is gonna hit." -- Mozeliak
Eric Haberer, LHP, Southern Illinois: Haberer has started and pitched in relief at SIU, and is a lifelong Cardinals fan.
"Eric throws 92, 93 mph with unusually good life on his fastball. If he can develop his second and third pitch and throw them consistently, there's always a spot for a guy with that kind of arm." -- Dan Callahan, SIU head coach, as quoted on the school's Web site.
"It's amazing to think that in a few years I might have a chance to pitch at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals have an A-ball team in Peoria, which is just 45 minutes from my hometown." --Haberer, also on the school's site.
Donnie Smith, RHP, Old Dominion: A teammate of No. 2 overall pick Justin Verlander, Smith started and relieved and actually posted a much better ERA than Verlander. He struck out 99 and walked 25 in 86 1/3 innings.
"We really didn't even think he would be there at that point, so we were happy we could do that." -- Mozeliak.
Wes Swackhamer, LF, Tulane: Swackhamer transferred from the University of Florida to Tulane. He is hitting .353 with a .434 on-base percentage and a .535 slugging percentage for a team that will play in the NCAA Super Regionals this coming weekend.
"Swackhamer is an offensive player that we believe is going to hit." -- Mozeliak.
Jarrett Hoffpauir, 2B, Southern Miss: Hoffpauir was a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, as well as a first-team All-Conference USA player and a Sports Weekly second-team All-American.
Buck Cody, LHP, Texas: "A left-handed pitcher with great pitchability. He knows how to pitch and he's aggressive." -- Mozeliak.
Matt Shepherd, SS, Southern Miss: Shepherd, like Hoffpauir, was also a first-time All-Conference selection. He was named a third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball.
"The second baseman profiles out more as an offensive player and the shortstop more as a defensive player." -- Mozeliak, on Hoffpauir and Shepherd respectively.
Michael Parisi, RHP, Manhattan College: "He's an arm-strength guy. He hasn't had a lot of success at this point, but you're betting on the arm." -- Mozeliak.
Brady Toops, C, Arkansas: Toops is best known as a defensive player, and carries a perfect 4.00 GPA that helped land him Academic All-District and 2003 SEC Academic Honor Roll laurels.
Simon Williams, CF, Maine: Williams showed solid on-base ability and excellent speed, stealing 26 bases in 29 tries for the Black Bears.
"A speed guy." -- Mozeliak.
Mark Worrell, RHP, Florida International: No relation to Major Leaguers Tim and Todd Worrell, this Worrell is a transfer from the University of Arizona. He struck out 107 batters in 84 2/3 innings for FIU.
"He has arm strength, a good slider, and was a high-profile kid out of high school." --Mozeliak.
Daniel Nelson, SS, Pierce (Calif.) JC: " A plus athlete all across the board." --Mozeliak.
Jake Mullinax, 2B/3B, Nebraska: Mullinax was a second-team All-Big 12 performer and ranked seventh in the nation in fielding percentage among second basemen. He was also named second-team academic All-Conference.
"I had talked to the Cardinals briefly leading up to the draft, but anything could happen. My dad and brother were listening to the Internet, and called me as soon as I was drafted by St. Louis. It was an awesome feeling and it was nice to be drafted, and that was one of my goals when I came to Nebraska." -- Mullinax, as quoted on NU's official athletic Web site.
Jeremy Zick, RHP, Ole Miss: Zick has been primarily a reliever in college, racking up high strikeout rates for a power program in the SEC.
Matt Scherer, RHP, LeMoyne: Scherer was the staff ace for a team that made the NCAA Regionals, totaling 88 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 103 innings.
Chris Noonan, LHP, Seton Hall: Noonan served as the Pirates' closer in 2003, but moved back into the rotation in 2004.
"His fastball is below average, but he can pitch a little bit and we liked the fact he was left-handed." -- Mozeliak.
Cameron Blair, SS, Texas Tech: Blair was an offensive star for a team that fell just short of making the super regionals. He rapped 37 extra-base hits and slugged .625 for the Red Raiders.
"A tools guy. We were surprised he was there, really. He said he'd sign, and he's a good athlete." -- Mozeliak.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.