St. Louis Cardinals 2021 MLB Draft Report Card
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Best Pure Hitter: Outfielder Ryan Holgate (3) did nothing but hit during his three-year career with Arizona (.314/.409/.523) which is why his pro debut was a bit surprising to see. Holgate struggled with Low-A Palm Beach, hitting just .193/.279/.289 with a 35.7% strikeout rate. St. Louis is confident Holgate will be able to make the necessary adjustments—specifically with his lower half—and make more contact moving forward.
Best Power Hitter: Northeast outfielder Joshua Baez (2) possessed some of the biggest raw power in the 2021 prep class—stacking up with Nationals shortstop Brady House and Padres outfielder James Wood. He tallied just two homers in 23 games in the Florida Complex League, but has all the bat speed necessary to catch up to velocity and should tap into that power more as he continues to learn the professional strike zone.
Fastest Runner: The Cardinals signed outfielder Mike Antico (8) for just $20,000 as an older money saving pick, but he has a real tool in his 70-grade speed. He stole 41 bags in 46 attempts (89.1%) for Texas this spring and went 8-for-9 (88.9%) in his professional debut with Low-A Palm Beach.
Best Defensive Player: Baez has a massive arm that gives him a weapon in the outfield, but the Cardinals are excited about the defensive ability that shortstop Mack Chambers (11) has shown, even though he made 13 errors in 34 games at shortstop with Low-A Palm Beach in his pro debut. In college he showed a tendency to make spectacular plays at times and scuffle on routine plays during others.
Best Fastball: Righthander Austin Love (3) transitioned from a reliever to a starter in his time with North Carolina. His fastball has sat in the 91-94 mph range as a starter but he’s been regularly in the upper-90s in the past as a reliever and St. Louis likes the vertical ride of the offering.
Best Secondary Pitch: Righthander Michael McGreevy (1) was one of the better pure command pitchers in the 2021 draft class, but his slider has gotten good reviews—particularly how the pitch pairs with his mid-90s sinker.
Best Pro Debut: Righthander Gordon Graceffo (5) threw 26 innings mostly out of the bullpen for Low-A Palm Beach and looked quite good with an ability to throw strikes with a four-pitch mix. He posted a 1.73 ERA while striking out 37 and walking nine, and his velocity ticked up into the 93-97 mph range after topping out around 94 with Villanova.
Best Athlete: Baez was a standout athlete in a high school class littered with impressive athletes. He’s not a classic burner in the outfield, but his athleticism and ball-chasing skills do give him a chance to play center field, on top of his impressive bat speed, power and arm strength—he touched 98 mph from the mound in high school.
Most Intriguing Background: First baseman Thomas Francisco (19) comes from the same Abingdon, Va., town as the scout who signed him: TC Calhoun. On top of that, Francisco set the all-time Virginia high school hits record (150) which is impressive in its own right, but even more so when you consider some of the names to come out of the state: Michael Cuddyer, David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman and both Justin and Melvin Upton.
Closest To The Majors: As one of the most polished strike throwers in the class, McGreevy doesn’t need to improve much about his game to move quickly through the system. He didn’t have a great debut (9.39 ERA) in just 7.2 innings of work but is as polished a pitcher as you will find in this draft class.
Best Late-Round Pick (Or NDFA): Righthander Andre Granillo (14) was a walk-on at UC Riverside who threw just 55.2 innings in college after the covid season and missing a few months during his draft year with a hand injury. His pro debut with the Cardinals was impressive, however, as Granillo posted a 1.50 ERA in 18 inning, with 23 strikeouts and nine walks.
The One Who Got Away: Texas high school Third baseman Xavier Casserilla (20) was the only player the Cardinals didn’t sign this year.