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2017 MLB Draft Grades: St. Louis Cardinals

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Best Pure Hitter: St. Louis lacked picks in the first two rounds due to signing Dexter Fowler as a free agent and the hacking scandal of the Astros involving former scouting director Chris Correa. The Cardinals’ first pick, OF Scott Hurst (3), got healthy this spring and broke out for Cal State Fullerton, showing the bat speed and feel for hitting he showed when he starred for USA Baseball’s 18U team (2013) and was the top prospect in the Alaska League (2014). He swung and missed a lot in a productive (.282/.354/.432) debut.

Best Power Hitter: At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, OF Terry Fuller (15) has size and plus-plus raw power from the left side. He’s raw but athletic enough to play center field for now.

Fastest Runner: 3B/OF Donivan Williams (14) received a $300,000 bonus in part due to his plus speed. Hurst is an above-average runner who has a chance to stick in center field.

Best Defensive Player: SS Kramer Robertson (4) succeeded Alex Bregman as Louisiana State’s shortstop and has infield actions and hands. His arm strength, and whether he can improve it, will decide if he can remain at short. Hurst has a plus arm and could shine in right field if he doesn’t stick in center.

Best Athlete: Williams has some strength in his 6-foot, 190-pound frame to go with his speed. He could stick in the infield but played more outfield in his debut.

Best Fastball: RHP Will Latcham (17) can sit 92-96 mph with his fastball. Two years ago he used it to rank fourth in NJCAA with 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings, and he averaged 12 K/9 in his debut.

Best Secondary Pitch: LHP Jacob Patterson (10) already has played the lefty specialist role at Texas Tech and figures to do so as a pro thanks to his solid-average slider, which he commands fairly well.

Best Pro Debut: 3B Evan Mendoza (11) hit just .262 in the spring for North Carolina State but won the short-season New York-Penn League batting title; he hit .370 in 41 games before a promotion to low Class A Peoria. He hit .339/.388/.508 overall with 20 doubles and has great hands at the plate and in the field.

Most Intriguing Background: OF Chase Pinder (7) is the younger brother of Athletics infielder Chad. Robertson’s mother Kim Mulkey won women’s basketball NCAA championships as a player at Louisiana Tech and as a coach at Baylor (2005, ’12) and won an Olympic gold medal in 1984.

Closest To The Majors: Patterson could shoot to the big leagues in a relief role.

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West Coast Conference Preview

The St. Mary’s Gaels are the team to watch in the West Coast Conference.

Best Late-Round Pick: Fuller and Williams signed above-slot deals, helping them stand out as the Cardinals’ primary high school picks. Primarily a position player in high school, RHP Alex Gallegos (35) excited the Cardinals with his 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame and fresh arm.

The One Who Got Away: A smallish catcher with good athleticism, C Adam Kerner (37) opted to attend San Diego.

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