Image credit: Nolan Gorman (Photo courtesy of Danny Parker)
BEST PURE HITTER: 1B Luken Baker (2) is known as a masher because of his 265-pound size, but he has a patient approach, recognizes pitches and consistently finds the barrel to grade as a solid-average or better hitter.
BEST POWER: 3B Nolan Gorman (1) shows plus-plus power in games and hits it out to all fields, with the potential to grow into 80-grade power at maturity. Baker generates plus power with his sheer strength and 1B Kevin Woodall (10) generates tremendous leverage with his 6-foot-7, 245-pound frame.
FASTEST RUNNER: 2B Brandon Riley (14) is an above-average runner and the fastest in a Cardinals draft class short on speed.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: SS Mateo Gil (3) shows impressive maturity and confidence at shortstop for a teenager to go with soft hands and an above-average arm.
BEST ATHLETE: Gil has impressive body awareness and showed a promising baseline from which to get stronger, faster and more explosive as he reaches physical maturity.
BEST FASTBALL: RHP Griffin Roberts (1s) was up to 97 mph after signing with natural running life out of his low, three-quarter arm slot.
BEST SECONDARY PITCH: Roberts’ slider was considered the best in the draft class and consistently showed plus in his pro debut. LHP Steven Gingery (4) had a borderline plus-plus changeup prior to Tommy John surgery and will try to showcase when he returns.
BEST PRO DEBUT: Gorman hit 17 home runs in 63 games while becoming the just the seventh prep first-rounder to reach low Class A in his draft year this decade. OF Justin Toerner (28) hit .312 with a .410 on-base percentage and 11 stolen bases as he raced through three levels up to high Class A Palm Beach.
MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: RHP Francisco Justo (12) barely played his senior year of high school because he had to get a job to support his family after his father broke his ankle and couldn’t work. Justo moved from New York to the Dominican Republic for six months to train after graduating, returned and landed a spot at Monroe (N.Y.) JC. Gil is the son of former Rangers and Angels utilityman Benji Gil, C Benito Santiago Jr. (34) is the son of the longtime catcher and 2B Cole Kreuter (36) is the son of former MLB catcher Chad Kreuter. RHP Parker Kelly (20) is the younger brother of Cardinals catching prospect Carson Kelly.
CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Roberts’ 94-97 mph fastball and plus slider have him primed to move quickly if he shifts to the bullpen.
BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: Toerner has hit everywhere he’s been and shows above-average speed, solid-average defense in center field and enough arm strength for all three outfield spots.
ONE WHO GOT AWAY: SS Alerick Soularie (29) hit .402 with 10 home runs and flashed tantalizing athleticism at San Jacinto (Texas) JC, but he ended up honoring his commitment to Tennessee.