* St. Louis Cardinals scouts found Michael Wacha, Yadier Molina, Trevor Rosenthal -- 17 of the 25 players on the post-season roster facing the Los Angeles Dodgers -- plus Carson Kelly and Malik Collymore. ....
By Bob Elliott
St. LOUIS _ Besides Budweiser beer and an arch which is closed, St. Louis has this ball club called the Cardinals.
From managers Red Schoendienst to Whitey Herzog to Tony La Russa, two in Cooperstown, the third on the way.
Men like George Kissell, Hub Kittle and George Sisler formed the college of Cardinals on the development side.
Homegrowns Albert Pujols (a 13th round pick), John Denny (29th) and Keith Hernandez (42nd) helped the Cards to post-season play over the years.
And don’t forget the scouting department which has 17 homegrowns on the 25-man post-season roster, plus three on the disabled list.
Game 2 winner Michael Wacha may be the tip of ice berg, but the Cards also have starters Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller. Add in Jamie Garcia and John Gast and the Cards received 100 starts from their drafted players.
Reliever Kevin Siegrist and closer Trevor Rosenthal, plus position players Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams, Pete Kozma, John Jay and Yadier Molina are homegrowns facing the Dodgers.
“We can save at the big-league level if we add starting pitching through the draft,” said scouting director Dan Kantrovitz on Sunday.
“Starting pitching is the most expensive commodity, so if we can draft pitchers it allows the organization to concentrate in other areas on the free agent market.”
Easier said that done: scout only big-league starters.
“We put emphasis of drafting starters vs. a guy who could become a seventh arm on a staff,” said Kantrovitz. “We try to mitigate and analyze injury risk. That sexy 98 MPH fastball without command? It takes discipline to pass on that.”
St. Louis born-and-bred and fed on Ozzie Smith back flips, Kantrovitz was a 25th round draft choice of his hometown team in 2001. He worked in the Cards scouting department from 2004-2008, worked three years for the Oakland A’s and re-joined the Cards in 2012 as scouting director, replacing Jeff Luhnow, who became GM of the Houston Astros.
Day 1, well his first day in the field, Kantrovitz, Mike Roberts and two other Cards scouts, walked into Blue Bell Park at College Station, Tex. to see Wacha start the season opener against the Illinois-Chicago, as he allowed one hit in 5 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out eight.
“We stayed on him, saw every start, had a number of scouts look at him, did our due diligence,” said Kantrovitz. “We couldn’t have dreamed he’d be there when we picked (19th).”
The Cards ignored a scouting myths myth.
“People thought his breaking ball might hurt his chances to start,” Kantrovitz said. “He had two plus pitches: a fastball and a change. It’s rare to see that profile. Most guys have a plus fastball, plus curve.”
Ralph Garr, Jr. was the area scout who was on Wacha.
“To Ralph’s credit he never once had any hesitancy about Michael’s projection, from day one he said “he’s a horse, a starter,” Kantrovitz said. “People ask about the Cardinal culture. It’s sounds cheesy but it’s our fan base. They have such high expectations. We’re a small town and put 45,000 people in that park almost every night.”
Kantrovitz hired Charles Peterson, from the Major League Scouting Bureau, to scout Canada prior to the last June’s draft, saying “Charles gave us an instant footprint in Canada which we hadn’t had before, you don’t often see that many high profile kids coming out of Canada.”
"They all didn’t sign," he pointed out but the Cards landed Mississauga infielder Malik Collymore in the 10th round.
Meanwhile, high schooler drafted included RF Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, BC) in the third round to the Seattle Mariners; LHP Travis Seabrooke (Peterborough, Ont.) in the fifth to the Baltimore Orioles, Lachlan Fontaine (North Vancouver, BC) in the 12th to the Mariners, RHP Sean Ratcliffe (Ajax, Ont.) in the 18th by the Blue Jays; INF Daniel Pinero (Toronto, Ont.) in the 20th by the Astros; C Morgan Lofstrom (Kelowna, BC) to the Reds in the 20th, RHP Daniel Procopio (Toronto, Ont.) to the Mets in the 22nd, C Owen Spiwak (Mississauga, Ont.) to the Mets and RHP Cal Quantrill (Port Hope Ont.) in the 26th by the New York Yankees.
Carson Kelly, who spent 2006-07 playing for the Markham Mariners is in the system. The Portland, Oregon native went undrafted on Day 1 of 2012 draft going to sleep thinking he’d attend University of Oregon. The next day the Cards drafted him and gave him a $2.4 million bonus. Kelly hit two home runs for Ontario at the Canadian peewee championships against New Brunswick, has 15 homers in his first season and a half of pro ball.
“His maturity level and leadership are off the charts, he’s one of the unique kids you will come across,” said Kantrovitz.
Cards scouts like Joe Rigoli and Roger Smith don't need extra motivation "but it’s a source of pride we have so many drafted players on the roster, they enjoy going to scout an amateur game, then looking at the TV at a restaurant and seeing one of their guys.
“I spoke to Wacha’s parents coming out of the clubhouse Saturday. They were so proud. We’re proud of Michael Wacha.”
2012 RHP Michael Wacha (1st round).
2011 INF Kelton Wong (1st), RP Seth Maness (11th).
2009 RHP Shelby Miller (1st), RHP Joe Kelly (3rd), 2B Matt Carpenter (13th), RP Trevor Rosenthal (23rd), 1B Matt Adams (23rd).
2008 RHP Lance Lynn (1st), LHP Kevin Siegrist (41st).
2007 SS Pete Kozma (1st), SS Daniel Descalso (3rd). C Tony Cruz (26th), OF Adron Chambers (38th).
2006 CF John Jay (2nd), OF Shane Robinson (5th),
2000 C Yadier Molina (4th)
2006 1B Allen Craig (8th)
2005 LHP Jaime Garcia (25th)
2003 RP Jason Motte (23rd)