Though the St. Louis Cardinals did not enjoy five selections in the first round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft as they did in 2012, they did have four in the first two rounds among those taken Thursday night.
To go with their own selection at 27th overall, the 34th overall pick was awarded to the Cardinals in compensation for the loss of Carlos Beltran as a free agent. St. Louis was also granted a competitive balance pick B at number 71, following their second round selection at number 68.
The Cardinals chose four right-handed pitchers, starting with Luke Weaver, a junior from Florida State University at 27 and Jack Flaherty from Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City, California at 34.
St. Louis had two first-round draft picks for three consecutive seasons, selecting RHP Michael Wacha #19 and OF James Ramsey (also from FSU) #23 in 2012 and LHP's Marco Gonzales and Rob Kaminsky #19 and #28 overall in 2013.
In the first segment of the 2014 Draft on Thursday evening, the 30 MLB clubs made their first and second round selections plus two competitive balance rounds.
The draft will resume at 1 PM Eastern on Friday with rounds 3-10 to be chosen. The final group of players in rounds 11 through 40 will be named in lightning-round manner on Saturday afternoon.
Luke Weaver, RHP (Round 1/Overall selection 27)
Weaver, 20, went 8-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 16 games for the Florida State Seminoles this season, striking out 85 batters in his 106 1/3 innings pitched while walking just 23 and holding opponents to a .226 batting average.
A First Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference player in 2014, Weaver's eight wins paced Florida State and tied for third in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while his innings pitched tied for second among all ACC pitchers. He had a stretch of 19 2/3 innings pitched this season without allowing a run, spanning parts of four starts from May 3 through May 24.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound DeLand, Florida, native was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 19th round of the 2011 MLB draft from Deland High school.
"We love Luke's stuff, his makeup and his potential," stated St. Louis Scouting Director, Dan Kantrovitz. "He has a fastball he can spot on both sides of the plate and an ‘out' pitch that is effective to both lefties and righties. His change-up is his go-to out pitch and his breaking ball is also a quality pitch."
The pool amount for this pick is $1,843,000.
Scouting reports from Kiley McDaniel: Scout.com's national draft expert had Weaver ranked as the #55 player in the draft.
"Weaver had a low profile entering his sophomore season but gained some buzz halfway through his sophomore year as he reportedly hit 96 mph with an above average changeup, moving into the rotation late in the season for the Seminoles.
"The rumors were true as Weaver hit 97 mph with Team USA with his velocity spiking later in the summer, sitting 91-95 mph throughout outings. His best off-speed pitch is his 92-94 changeup that is above average to plus at its best but his 78-81 mph slurve is the concern, mostly fringy with average potential at times.
"Weaver isn't huge or very projectable but shows mid-rotation potential and is one of the younger players in the college class."
By his junior year, the slider or slurve had improved.
"Weaver's 90-94 mph heater was enough given his other skills. Weaver has solid-average command, and above average to plus changeup and a slider that improved this fall from fringy to flashing above average potential."
Friday morning update from Kiley:
"Weaver fits the Cardinals style of pitcher perfectly: an athletic righty with above average velocity, changeup and command. The concerns are his slight build and below average breaking ball but Weaver has no injury history and has thrown a good breaking ball at times, so you'd think a good pitching coach could coax it out of him. Many think the Cardinals have some of the best pitching development in the game, so this one makes sense and there were other savvy teams like Oakland and Boston sniffing around on Weaver in this area."
Projected Bonus: $1.50 million
Jack Flaherty, RHP (Round 1/Overall selection 34)
Flaherty, 18, the 2014 California Gatorade Player of the Year, went a perfect 10-0 this season with a 0.63 ERA. The Burbank Calif., native hasn't lost a game since 2012, after finishing 13-0 during the 2013 campaign. The 6-foot-3, 217-pound righty opened his Harvard-Westlake High School team's playoff rounds by pitching a no-hitter.
"Jack is an exciting talent," Kantrovitz stated. "As he goes from a two-way high school player to exclusively a pitcher, we think he will thrive in our system. He has life on his fastball that can run up to 93-94 mph. The thing that separates him is that he has three quality secondary pitches he can throw for strikes."
Flaherty has signed a letter of intent with North Carolina and is considered by some to be a challenging sign. The pool amount for this pick is $1,650,400.
Scouting report from Kiley McDaniel: Scout.com's national draft expert had Flaherty ranked as the #52 player in the draft.
"Continuing out in California, North Carolina commit 3B/RHP Jack Flaherty has made the transition this spring to being more of a pitcher, at least as a pro prospect.
"Flaherty was one of the big names in the class early in the summer, flashing elite long speed (but more like above average speed on the bases) and feel to hit from a projectable 6'4 frame that would likely fit best at the hot corner. He regressed a bit and looked more awkward in general late in the summer, making him more of a 3rd round pick, pitching only sparingly.
"I saw him last spring at the NHSI and his delivery was just okay, he sat 87-91 and threw a lot of sliders that were about average. The stuff is a little better this spring, peaking at 93 mph with good plane and solid-average stuff from a good plane at times, though he's still a 2nd-3rd round fit."
Ronnie Williams, RHP (Round 2/Overall selection 68)
Williams, 18, helped lead his American High School baseball team to its first Florida State championship in school history by pitching his team into the title game. He went 8-2 during the season with a 0.97 ERA, pitching 65.0 innings in 11 games. The right-hander struck out 72 while walking 22.
Considered to have considerable upside despite being undersized at 6-feet, 180-pounds, Williams is a Florida A&M commit. The pool amount for this pick is $833,900.
Kiley McDaniel, Scout.com's national draft expert had Williams ranked as the #59 player in the draft. He earlier reported on the Cardinals' interest in a player who came into prominence just this spring after increasing velocity from 87-91 to 91-95. Williams off-speed stuff is just average at this point, but he has athleticism and a feel for pitching.
Exclusive insider video of Williams:
Andrew Morales, RHP (Round 2/Overall selection 71)
Morales, 21, is a senior at UC-Irvine. The right-hander is ranked fourth in the country with 17 starts and 128 strikeouts. He won his 10th game of the season against the UNLV Rebels during the NCAA Regionals.
The 6-foot-0, 195-pounder is 10-2 with a 1.64 ERA for Irvine and has held hitters to a .182 batting average. He is expected to start Saturday's game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Stillwater Super Regional.
From Covina, California, Morales pitched two years for Rio Hondo Community College before finishing his collegiate career at UC-Irvine.
As a senior picked earlier than projected, Morales is expected to sign for considerably less than the pool amount for this pick, which is $796,100. That money could be used to sign Flaherty, for example.
Kiley McDanel, Scout.com's national draft expert, did not have Morales ranked among his top 291 players in the draft.
Link to the Scout.com 2014 Draft Board, where an extensive library of draft materials, including scouting reports, mock drafts, interviews and much more awaits.
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Head over to our Message Board for draft-related discussion with some of the most knowledgeable individuals about the St. Louis Cardinals and their minor league system.
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