After reading the title of this thread you might be thinking to yourself "doesn't this post belong in The Sports Rag blog?" Well what these two players have in common has a lot to do with the Cardinals. More specifically their draft strategy.
For those who don't know, Blake Beavan was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 1st round of the 2007 draft. He was taken one pick before the Cardinals selected Peter Kozma. Aaron Hicks was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 1st round of the 2008 daft. He was taken one pick after the Cardinals selected Brett Wallace. Both players were high school draftees.
With the college season and soon the high school season getting under way, much discussion about the 2009 draft has begun. With the 19th pick, the Cardinals once again have a good opportunity to add a quality player to their farm system. However, there are many wondering which direction the Cardinals will go and if that direction will lead them to the best available prospect.
I have seen many folks predicting Mike Leake, a RHP from Arizona State, or Mike Minor, a LHP from Vanderbilt, to be a likely selection. Those who make this prediction sight the low risk associated with both players and most off all their college standing as appealing to the Cards. Mainly because they have tended to put a higher value on these types of players than riskier, more rewarding players in past drafts.
While I would agree that Leake and Minor could very well be high on the Cardinals draft board come June, a recent quote from Derrick Goold's Birdland blog has me questioning whether or not I really have any clue what the Cardinals will do in the 2009 draft. Here's the quote:
"Four of the players picked ahead of Wallace ranked behind Wallace on the Top 100, and the only player to leapfrog him from the draft — Hicks — was the Cardinals’ fallback pick at No. 13 if Wallace went a few spots earlier, like to Oakland."
This may have been said a short time after the 2008 draft, and I think it was, but as long as it is being brought up again I just want to point out that the Cardinals would have taken Aaron Hicks, the raw outfielder from a California high school, with the 13th pick had Brett Wallace not been there. Interesting indeed.
This was actually the second time in as many years that the Cardinals had mentioned that they would have taken a high school player had they been at the top of their board of remaining draft prospects. Following the 2007 draft, a member of the Cardinals staff said that they were ready to take Blake Beavan in the 1st round until the Rangers took him. The Birds did wind up taking a high school player but it was one who was said to be polished and a fairly safe high school selection.
So in the past two drafts the Cardinals were fully prepared to select the always risky high school pitcher and a raw, toolsy prep star.
All of the sudden I'm befuddled. I can see the Cardinals going after Beavan if they were to go after a high school pitcher in the past. He had a good fastball and threw strikes. Many saw him at least being a reliever if he couldn't improve his offspeed stuff. So the risk factor wasn't as high as you might expect for a high school arm but he wasn't a totally polished pitcher and some had some questions about his mechanics.
To hear that Aaron Hicks was the backup option in the 2008 draft, though, is very surprising. Many considered Hicks to be a raw talent. In fact some teams, and the Cardinals may have been included, liked him more on the mound where he had some trouble with command but flashed two plus pitches. Either way, Hicks was far from the usual 1st round selection the Cardinals have made since Jeff Luhnow took over.
So as you put together your list for who you want the Cardinals to take with the 19th pick, I ask that you remember Aaron Hicks and Blake Beavan and don't be afraid to hope for the selection to be Jacob Turner or Keyvius Sampson, a pair of high ceiling, high school right-handers. Well as long as they are still on the board and worth the pick(and not asking for over slot money...oops).
The fact that Beavan and Hicks were both almost Cardinals tells us that Jeff Luhnow is not afraid to go after the raw and risky high school player early on in the draft.