One of my favorite things about baseball being back is that the Cardinals MLB Draft is coming up soon. I always love looking into who the Cardinals should look into selecting, so let’s start on that track now.
The St. Louis Cardinals will have their highest non-compensatory first-round pick since 2009 when they selected Shelby Miller. So, it will be incredibly important for the Cardinals’ MLB Draft to get off to a strong start in the first round and take advantage of the high pick.
I want to take a look at a couple of things in this preview. I first want to take a look at where the Cardinals need is currently and preview one of the players that fill that need.
Where is the need
The number one need for the St. Louis Cardinals system right now is infielders. When you take a look at Fangraphs’ Top 23 Cardinals’ Prospects from Eric Longenhagen, you see that there is just one infielder in the top 10 in Yairo Munoz. Munoz has good potential for sure, but I am not sure how many other teams would have him in their top ten. Out of the top 23, there are only three more prospects who play on the infield and two of them are SS.
It’s well known that first base has been a revolving door/problem since the absence of Albert Pujols in 2011. While first base would seem to be a position that they could move any prospect to, it is not the easiest position to play like some think it is. There is not one top prospect currently playing this position in the system. While Jose Martinez and Matt Carpenter seem to be holding this position down now, they won’t be around forever.
Not only is first base a position of need, but the other position missing in the top 23 is a 3B. While it is possible Delvin Perez and or Edmundo Sosa could move to 3B, neither have a bat that profiles at that position currently. So, it is a position that the team will look at in the draft.
First Round Options
Height/Weight: 6’4″ 220 lb
School: Wichita State (Junior)
Greyson Jenista is a fascinating option for the Cardinals in the first round. Everything about him screams Cardinals. Jenista is in his junior year at Wichita State and attended high school in Eudora Kansas. So, he’s already a midwestern boy.
As far as his ability goes, he’s an established college hitter that has played first base and in the outfield. He is an established outfielder and is athletic enough to stay there. However, the Cardinals would likely use him at a corner infield spot as the outfield is quite full currently.
Jenista is an established college hitter with power that should be available to the Cardinals in the first round. He has a career slash line of .323/.421/.493 with 38 extra-base hits (22 Doubles, 2 Triples, 14 Homers).
READ: Where’s Yadi’s Power Coming From?
One reason to like his chances of being drafted by the Cardinals is that he was the MVP of the Cape Cod league last summer. In the past, the Cardinals have really favored players who have played in the Cape Cod league.
Players like Kolten Wong, Stephen Piscotty, Austin Wilson, Harrison Bader, Luke Voit, Zach Kirtley, and even Manager Mike Matheny all played in the Cape Cod league. Back in 2012, SB Nation even wrote about the Cape Cod ties within the Cardinals organization.
Everything I read about Jenista states that he is your stereotypical corner outfielder/corner infielder. He’s not super athletic, but it’s not like he is not athletic enough to play baseball. He has adequate athleticism to be a very good baseball player, he’s just not going to be a Tommy Pham.
Perhaps the best description of Jenista’s ability at the plate is done by A.E. Schafer of Viva El Birdos. Schafer compares him to Eric Hosmer and says,
“The plate discipline is a plus, and Jenista manages to put up fairly low strikeout rates. He’s not a big power guy now, but certainly has the size to suggest he could be. Even if left alone, though, this is a polished, mature hitter with an approach that would seem ready to translate into the pros without too much trouble.”
Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs currently have him ranked as the 11th best prospect. Their profile of him is “Jenista is a deceptively good athlete for his size (listed at 6-foot-4, 240) with average speed and a carrying tool in his easy plus raw power from the left side.”
The bad thing about Jenista (if you can call it that) is there’s not one thing that really jumps out about him. When you watch him hit, it’s not like the ball exceptionally jumps off of his bat or that he has exceptional bat speed.
Tim Hue of thezygote50 (reader beware: this is a Cubs blog) has this to say about Jenista, “He is of more value in the AL, regardless how his defense is. I have no reason to believe he’s a butcher defensively. However, the numbers game catches up to 1B in the NL”. The reason Hue mentions this is that Jenista likely will move to first for the long haul. For the Cubs, it wouldn’t make sense to draft a first baseman in the first round.
For the Cardinals (a First Base lacking club) Jenista is worth the pick. While he can play the OF, his ability there will be questioned by clubs concerned about his future versatility. So, that will likely keep him in the bottom half of the draft like most mocks have him.
I really feel like Jenista is a great option for the Cardinals here. While he may not have the power of others in this draft, that may come with time. He’s also not your power only kind of guy. The Hosmer comp seems spot on. Despite my offseason opinion of Hosmer, if he can become that kind of player for the Cardinals he is well worth the pick.
That will do it for the first of our Cardinals MLB Draft Preview. Keep an eye out as we continue to profile players the Cardinals could look at in the upcoming MLB Draft.