Cards tab pair of prep outfielders on Day 2
Third-rounder comes from family with long baseball history
ST. LOUIS--The Cardinals continued a recent Draft trend on Tuesday, selecting athletic but undersized players on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft.
The Cards' third-round pick (No. 109), center fielder C.J. McElroy, was a two-sport athlete at Clear Creek High in League City, Texas, where he excelled on the baseball diamond and on the gridiron as a wide receiver. McElroy's football and baseball coaches in high school both agree that the speedy center fielder is the best athlete ever to come out of the area. That's exactly the type of thing Cards vice president of player development Jeff Luhnow looks for in a player.
"Athletic players mean that they're capable of doing a lot of things, so we always look towards athletic players," Luhnow said. "You have to have athleticism, but you have to be able to play baseball. If you can't play this game, it almost doesn't matter how good of an athlete you are. We want guys that can play baseball."
McElroy can play baseball; it's in his blood.
While the Cards were impressed by McElroy's athleticism and speed, his baseball bloodline is even more noteworthy. His father, Chuck, pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues for nine clubs. His uncle, Cecil Cooper, starred for the Brewers and managed the Astros, while his grandfather, Sylvester Cooper, was a catcher in the Negro Leagues and once caught for Hall of Famer Satchel Paige. McElroy grew up around Major League clubhouses and even spent time in the batting cage with Cal Ripken Jr. when his father pitched for the Orioles.
McElroy is committed to play both football and baseball at the University of Houston. But he said it's been a lifelong dream of his to play professional baseball and acknowledged he would sign with the Cardinals for the right price.
St. Louis used its second-round pick (No. 79) on another athletic centerfielder, selecting Chicago native Charlie Tilson out of New Trier High School. Tilson was also a two-sport athlete in high school and is committed to play baseball at the University of Illinois.
Both McElroy (5-foot-10, 180-pounds) and Tilson (5-foot-11, 175-pounds) are a bit undersized, but have the versatility and athletic ability the Cardinals covet. The same can be said about the Cards' fourth-round pick (No. 140), shortstop Kenneth Peoples-Walls. Walls is another pure athlete with speed who projects to move to second base in the Minors. The California native, who attended Westchester High School in Los Angeles, has a knack for making contact but is still raw as a player.
Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at 11 a.m. CT Wednesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
St. Louis drafted four center fielders on Day 2 of the Draft, with all four measuring in at under six feet -- the club also picked Kansas State's Nick Martini (5-foot-11, pick No. 230) and Lance Jeffries (5-foot-9, pick No. 320) of McClure High School in nearby Florissant, Mo.
The Cardinals also selected 16 pitchers on Tuesday, including eight left-handers, but continued to address the club's need for more position player depth in the Minors.
"As a whole, we would like to build our depth in position players," Luhnow said. "We feel like our pitching depth is ahead of our position player depth."
Here's a look at the Cardinals' Day 2 picks:
Round 2, Charlie Tilson, CF, New Trier (Ill.) HS
Tilson, a two-sport athlete, is an opposite-field hitter with a smooth swing and above-average speed. The lefty hit .406 with 28 stolen bases as a senior and is committed to Illinois. He's drawn comparisons to Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
Round 3, C.J. McElroy, CF, Clear Creek (Texas) HS
McElroy is a tremendous athlete with blazing speed and a big league background. He's committed to play both football and baseball at the University of Houston but said he will sign for the right price.
Round 4, Kenneth Peoples-Walls, SS, Westchester (Calif.) HS
Peoples-Walls is a pure athlete with speed and a knack for making contact. Scouts envision him transitioning to second base in the future. Other notable players drafted at No. 140 include Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks and Marlins right-hander Javier Vazquez.
Round 5, Sam Gaviglio, RHP, Oregon State
Gaviglio knows how to pitch and uses command rather than speed to his advantage. He throws a sinking fastball and switches speeds to keep hitters off balance. Gaviglio was selected by Tampa Bay in the 40th round of the 2008 Draft but did not sign.
Round 6, Adam Ehrlich, C, Campbell Hall (Calif.) HS
Ehrlich is a left-handed-hitting catcher with a solid 6-foot, 185-pound frame. He has a strong arm and makes fielding his position look easy.
Round 7, Nick Martini, CF, Kansas State
Martini was the Big 12 Player of the Year as a sophomore, when he led the conference in hitting. The lefty batted .326 this year and stole 24 bases in 28 attempts. Martini reached base in 93 straight games, a NCAA Division I record.
Round 8, Danny Miranda, LHP, University of Miami
Miranda was the Hurricanes' closer in 2011, picking up 15 saves while striking out 37 in 30 1/3 innings. The Cards selected the left-hander in the 50th round of the 2008 Draft, but he opted for school.
Round 9, Tyler Mills, RHP, University of Michigan
Mills is a draft-eligible sophomore and was recruited to Michigan as an outfielder. The converted pitcher has a mid-90s fastball and projects to be a reliever.
Round 10, Lance Jeffries, CF, McClure (Mo.) HS
Jeffries is a local product from Florissant, Mo., with tantalizing speed. He has gap-to-gap power and is a terror on the basepaths. He's also undersized, though, listed at 5-foot-9.
Round 11, Michael Maness, RHP, East Carolina
Maness went 10-3 with a 1.71 ERA in 15 starts as a senior. The right-hander is a four-pitch hurler and was named Conference USA's Pitcher of the Year as a junior.
Round 12, Danny Stienstra, 1B, San Jose State
Stienstra led the Spartans with a .349 average and 54 RBIs in 2011. He can hit for power and has a knack for getting on base.
Round 13, Kolby Byrd, C, Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) CC
Byrd was a three-sport athlete in high school and is the second left-handed-hitting catcher drafted by the Cardinals this year. He's a solid all-around catcher and power hitter.
Round 14, Kevin Medrano, 2B, Missouri State
Medrano was a three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference selection and hit .325 this season. The Missouri native has shown he can hit with a wood bat and was the starting second baseman for the West Division in last summer's Cape Cod League All-Star Game.
Round 15, Matthew Williams, SS, Liberty University
Williams hit .336 as a junior and led his team with nine home runs, 17 doubles, a .549 slugging percentage and a .405 on-base percentage. The power-hitting shortstop was a three-year starter, but at 5-foot-10, is another undersized Cardinals draftee.
Round 16, Travis Miller, RHP, University of Miami
Miller is the second Hurricanes pitcher drafted by the Cardinals this year. He was a reliever for his entire college career, compiling a 6-3 record in 48 appearances.
Round 17, Dutch Deol, RF, Aliso Niguel (Calif.) HS
Deol is another two-sport athlete drafted by the Cards more for his potential than his statistics. He hit .280, had 19 RBIs and scored 19 runs during his senior campaign.
Round 18, Kyle Hald, LHP, Old Dominion University
Hald is known more for his slider and curveball than his fastball, which stays in the upper 80s. Hald is a strikeout pitcher; he fanned 108 in 95 2/3 innings as a senior and was named the conference's Co-Pitcher of the Year in 2011 after leading the league in strikeouts for a second straight season.
Round 19, Nick Gillung, LHP, Mercyhurst College
Gillung lead his team with 102 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings en route to an 8-2 record and 2.60 ERA as a senior. The lefty also tossed four complete games, including two shutouts. He helps fill the Cardinals' need for left-handed pitching in the Minors.
Round 20, Aramis Garcia, C, Pembroke Pines (Fla.) Charter HS
Garcia is the third catcher selected by the Cards and also the youngest. The right-hander has some pop; he had seven homers, 23 RBIs and 13 doubles in 65 at-bats as a senior. Garcia is committed to Florida International University.
Round 21, Christopher Kirsch, LHP, Lackawanna College
Kirsch was a 13th-round pick of the Pirates in the 2010 Draft but did not sign, opting instead for junior college ball. He will add another young, left-handed arm to the Cards' farm system.
Round 22, William Kamplain, LHP, Walker (Ala.) HS
Kamplain pitched a pair of perfect games as a senior and also had 17 strikeouts in a seven-inning outing. He could be tough sign, though, because the lefty recently signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Alabama, his "dream school."
Round 23, Patrick Deese, RHP, Western Carolina
Deese was a reliever in college, making 13 appearances this season and compiling a 3.31 ERA. Opponents hit .125 against him in 2011 and he fanned 22 in 16 1/3 innings.
Round 24, Jonathan Cornelius, LHP, Florida Tech
Cornelius was a two-sport athlete in high school and led his college team with 95 strikeouts in 90 2/3 innings this year, the second-best mark in the Sunshine State Conference.
Round 25, Todd McInnis, RHP, Southern Mississippi
McInnis was a third-team All-America selection as a senior and pitched two complete games in 15 starts this year. His 2.65 ERA was tops among the club's starting rotation. He was named the Conference USA Pitcher of the Year as a redshirt sophomore.
Round 26, Brett Graves, RHP, Francis Howell (Mo.) HS
Graves is two-sport athlete and excelled as a quarterback on the gridiron, but baseball is his calling and he's committed to pitch at Missouri. His fastball reaches the low 90s, but he could be a tough sign.
Round 27, Gary Apelian, RF, Santa Ana (Calif.) College
Apelian is listed at 6-foot-4 and led his junior college team with a .382 average, 10 home runs, 47 RBIs, 19 doubles and a .656 slugging percentage. He reached base at a .443 clip and committed one error in 44 games.
Round 28, Ryan Sherriff, LHP, West Los Angeles College
Sherriff tossed two complete games in seven starts and struck out 50 in 47 innings. He was a 33rd-round pick of the Nationals in the 2010 Draft.
Round 29, Christopher Matulis, LHP, Central Florida
Matulis was a 47th-round selection of the Rays in the 2008 Draft but opted instead for college. He sat out the entire 2011 season after transferring from Louisiana State. In two seasons at LSU, the lefty went 11-5. Matulis is known for his savvy on the mound.
Round 30, David Bergin, RHP, Tennessee Wesleyan College
Bergin was 9-2 with a 3.63 ERA in 17 appearances, making 15 starts and hurling one complete game in 2011.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.