6/7/2013 11:47 P.M. ET
Righty Mayers elated to join Cards' organization
Club focuses on pitching on Day 2, starting with Mississippi product
By Chad Thornburg / MLB.com
Mike Mayers was in the ninth box, shooting 3-over-par, when he got the call.
"My golf game wasn't too great after that," Mayers said, his mind preoccupied with his future as the Cardinals' third-round Draft pick. He had taken to the golf course to avoid driving himself, or his family, crazy in anticipation.
Mayers, pronounced like "Meyers," went undrafted out of Grove City (Ohio) High School in 2010, but the right-handed pitcher showed steady improvement in three years at Mississippi -- enough to persuade the Cardinals to take him with the 93rd overall pick, their first selection on Day 2 of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
"It's a pretty amazing experience to be 21 years old and still be living the same dream you've had your whole life," Mayers said. "Just to be drafted by such a great organization, an organization that's respected all around baseball, it's definitely a huge honor."
Mayers isn't a stranger to the Cardinals. He met fellow Ole Miss product Lance Lynn, now a starter for St. Louis, when Lynn worked out in Oxford, Miss., before Spring Training this year.
"I'm excited to not only learn from him and guys like him, but the entire organization," Mayers said. "Every year, it seems like they turn out another great pitcher after great pitcher."
In his first season with the Rebels, he finished with a 5.10 ERA, then last year he had a 3.50 ERA. His junior season, he lowered his ERA even further to 2.98, but an injury forced him to only make 10 starts. A three-sport athlete growing up, Mayers credits his impressive strides to the opportunity to focus on baseball alone at Mississippi.
Mayers also boosted his stock with a solid summer in the Cape Cod League, where he allowed 15 earned runs on 28 hits and seven walks while striking out 42 in 28 innings with the Bourne Braves last year.
He relies on his feel for the craft more than overpowering stuff, and scouts see him as a future Major League starter.
"At Ole Miss you spend a lot of time with Coach [Mike] Bianco working on how to pitch and not necessarily just to throw hard," Mayers said. "It's really taken my game to the next level."
Mayers combines his low-90s fastball with a slider and changeup, which has plus potential. He struck out 141 batters in college.
"I can move my fastball in and out of the zone and kind of use that to set up my offspeed pitches," Mayers said, adding that his changeup is his favorite to throw. "It's fun to sit up there and play with. If you throw a fastball in and you throw a changeup, they think they're on it and it just baffles them."
He has good command of all three of his pitches. Without swing-and-miss stuff, Mayers will have to continue to refine his control in the Minors. He earns high marks for his makeup and poise on the mound.
"He's got a strong track record on top of it and we think he's got really solid pitchability," said scouting director Dan Kantrovitz. "And there's more left in the tank. Maybe in a couple years, he's throwing mid-90s. He's a guy that we're pretty excited about."
With eight pitchers debuting on the Cardinals big league roster this season, St. Louis continued to reload its Minor League ranks with another five hurlers -- in addition to three infielders -- on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft.
"We saw an opportunity to make a run at some pitchers that we really liked that were available at the price we liked and we just tried to take advantage of it," Kantrovitz said. "I think going in, we didn't really plan on picking that many pitchers but the opportunity and the price presented itself and we capitalized on it."
After an aggressive Day 1, Kantrovitz said aside from a few calculated risks and gambles, the Cardinals took a more cost-conscious approach to Day 2, hoping to maintain some flexibility heading into rounds 11-40 on Saturday.
Kantrovitz said the Cardinals are operating close to the $6.9079 million allotted for their first 11 picks. Clubs that spend beyond that will be taxed, and if it's more than 5 percent, the penalty is future picks.
"We needed to be cautious in a couple instances that we didn't overstep the boundaries there," Kantrovitz said. "We certainly don't want to lose a pick next year. We're pretty close to it, but having said that, I think we're also going to have some surprising flexibility tomorrow."
Slugger Katz goes to Cards in Round 4
Mason Katz was a staple in LSU's lineup for four years and moved all over the diamond to keep his powerful bat in the game. On Friday, the Cardinals took him 125th overall.
The best tool Katz possesses is his power, which grades out as average. He is an aggressive hitter and squares balls up well, but scouts wonder if his long swing will be exposed in the Minor Leagues.
Katz doesn't project as an everyday first baseman, but his versatility and feel for the game mean he could be a fit as a super-utility player.
"The Cardinals got a kid who will be a great ambassador for their organization, carry himself with class at all times and will play his heart out for them," said LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri. "He's a very underrated athlete -- steal of the Draft, in my opinion.
"You put him at any position and he's going to do a good job for you," Mainieri said. "When he gets hot at the plate, he's as clutch a hitter as anyone."
Katz hit .318 or better in all four of his seasons with LSU, including a team-leading .383 mark in 2013. Last season, when he hit 13 homers, Katz competed in the College Home Run Derby, finishing as a runner-up to Fresno State's Aaron Judge, who was taken by the Yankees on Thursday in the first round.
"We saw him as one of the top college bats in the Draft," said scouting director Dan Kantrovitz. "We're going to send him on as a second baseman and see how that works and just hope he hits his way throughout our system and hopefully to the Major Leagues."
At pretty much every level he's played, Katz has hit and he has won. He batted .410 in both his junior and senior seasons at Jesuit High School in New Orleans. He reached the 5A State Title game twice, winning it in 2007 as a sophomore.
Clean mechanics will help McKinney progress
Taken 155th overall by the Cardinals, Ian McKinney was a regular on the showcase circuit, where he built a reputation for performing well in big events.
But that won't help something that may be a big factor in his pro career.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, McKinney -- who has committed to play for Central Florida -- has limited projection. As a result, there's been speculation he could end up as a reliever down the road.
As a starter in high school, though, McKinney has had some brilliant games. In early May, he threw a shutout and gave up only four hits.
The left-handed pitcher has a fastball that hovers around 90 mph but normally sits in the high 80s. McKinney's slider is his most effective offspeed pitch, but he also throws a changeup and a curveball.
McKinney's clean, repeatable delivery is something that bodes well for his future. He has a good feel for pitching and solid command.
"We feel confident that we're going to be able to get him signed and that he's going to be pitching this summer," said scouting director Dan Kantrovitz.
Four-year college lefty Reed projects as starter
Jimmy Reed and the other three left-handed pitching prospects the Cardinals drafted Friday not only share a common dominant arm. All four stand at about the same height -- or lack thereof.
When the Cardinals selected Reed with the 185th pick, he became the fourth left-hander at six feet or under picked by St. Louis this Draft. But scouting director Dan Kantrovitz says not to read too much into the height of their shorter-than-usual pitchers.
"These are all guys that can pitch," Kantrovitz said. "I think one of the guys we drafted yesterday might have said it, you don't need to be a certain height to strike people out. That's kind of how we look at it too. There was no rhyme or reason to what height they are, these are all really good pitchers."
The Gaithersburgh, Md., native was drafted by the Yankees in the 21st round last year, but remained at Maryland for his season season where he became the highest Terrapin to be selected since Brett Cecil went in the first round of the 2007 Draft.
"I'm pretty ecstatic right now," Reed said. "The Cardinals are an amazing organization with a proven track record of developing pitchers. It's honestly the best situation for me."
Reed posted a 6-4 record as a senior and finished with the eighth-best ERA in the ACC at 2.33. The second-team All-ACC selection also struck out a career-high 74 batters.
"He's one of those pitchers you just don't like to face," Kantrovitz said. "He's a senior, so he's a veteran for college baseball, but I think he's going to step into our system at a pretty advanced level and do well."
Kantrovitz said the left-hander combines a two-seam fastball and a cutter with a "pretty good" slider and a "really good" changeup, adding that the Cardinals have profiled him as a starter.
Prep star Rivera gives Cards plenty of versatility
Chris Rivera wasn't in the Cardinals' original plans.
It initially appeared that the Fullerton, Calif., prospect was uninterested in signing with a club out of high school, but recently the Cardinals got word from area scout Mike Garciaparra that Rivera's mind had changed. St. Louis selected him in the seventh round, No. 215 overall.
"That wasn't really part of the initial plan, but we felt that it's at a good point to deviate and take what we feel like is a high-ceiling baseball player that has the ability to play a few different positions," said scouting director Dan Kantrovitz.
Rivera, a top talent at El Dorado (Calif.) High School, became "famous" early, playing for USA Baseball's 14 and under team at age 12. He has a simple approach at the plate with a quick, short stroke with gap power, making hard contact to all fields, particularly with fastballs, when he's swinging the bat well. He's a fringy average runner with instincts that allow him to play up on the basepaths; however, with good range and a strong arm, his calling card is his defense.
Kantrovitz called Rivera one of the most versatile prospects they scouted for this Draft, adding that he projects best as a shortstop, but has developed as a catcher and can throw 94 mph from the mound.
"He's got a lot of different tools that we can work with," Kantrovitz said. "It's a pretty exciting package."
Cards draft Pierce for pitching know-how
Selected by the Cardinals with the 245th pick, Andrew Pierce began his college career at Jones County Junior College and transferred to Southern Mississippi for his junior year. He became the Golden Eagles' ace and has pitched well over the last two seasons.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 165 pounds, the right-hander doesn't have ideal size, but he earns high marks for his pitchability. His fastball sits around 90 mph, and he can add cut or sink to it as needed. Pierce also throws a slider and a changeup, and he commands all three of his pitches well.
"One of, it not the top performer in college baseball this year from a pitching standpoint," said scouting director Dan Kantrovitz. "And to have a guy like that, who just mows down the competition all year long, available in the eighth round, is something that we weren't going to walk away from."
Pierce hadn't been drafted before, but he will be a solid senior sign this year.
Cardinals pick Missouri State righty Petree
Nick Petree has certainly proven he's fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.
The Missouri State right-hander, taken by the Cardinals with the 275th overall pick, posted an ERA near 1.00 as a redshirt freshman in 2012. This year, he was just as impressive and silenced any lingering concerns about his right arm.
Petree, 22, was 8-1 with a 1.61 ERA in 14 starts, including two complete games, one of which was a shutout. He also struck out 111 against 19 walks in 100 1/3 innings, while holding batters to a .217 average.
"He's what you could call a pitch maker," said scouting director Dan Kantrovitz. "He doesn't have dominating stuff -- in terms of he doesn't have massive velocity on his fastball or he doesn't have anything secondary that's just his go-to out pitch -- but he knows how to pitch. And he knows how to get guys out. He's got a really solid track record of doing it at Missouri State."
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound hurler has a great feel for pitching, along with good stuff. While his fastball has improved in the past year, his changeup is his best pitch, and it has the chance to develop into a plus offering. He also throws a curveball and a slider.
Collymore's line-drive stroke catches Cards' eye
Canadian infielder Malik Collymore, taken by the Cardinals with the 305th overall pick, was moving up Draft boards a bit as the big day approached. Teams were intrigued by his athleticism and power/speed combination.
"He was on the radar screen for everybody for a while and I think having him still available in the 10th round was a bit of a surprise," scouting director Dan Kantrovitz said. "That was a situation where it definitely wasn't a cost-conscious move, it was more of a 'let's take the high-upside guy that is an excellent athlete on top of it.'"
Collymore has a short, level stroke from the right side, and he possesses good bat speed. He's mostly a line-drive hitter now, but there will be some power for him to tap into as he matures and develops a better approach at the plate. He runs well, but he's still learning to use his speed.
The Missouri commit has some arm strength, but he needs work defensively and could end up at second or the outfield. He gets high marks for his makeup and hustle on the field.
"He'll flash some serious raw power in batting practice as well as the games," Kantrovitz said. "He's got some flashy tools. If he can develop in our system, he's got a really high ceiling."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.