(BaseballStL) -- They're actually so predictable at times that it's borderline funny. But, hey, as the saying goes "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." That's exactly what the Cardinals do when it comes to the annual draft.
The MLB draft is a time for teams to stockpile their farm systems with the best of what our country has to offer at the high school and collegiate levels. And given the way salaries have skyrocketed over the last decade on the free agent market, the draft has never been as important as it is right now.
Maybe 10 or 15 years ago an organization could get away with bombing on their draft picks. That was because if a need arose at the big league level and there was nothing in the farm system that could come up and fill it, all the team had to do was go out on the free agent market and spend some money. All was okay in the world.
Those days are long gone.
Now if there's a need at the big league level and you don't have anyone in your farm system to come up and fill it you still have to go out onto the free agent market. The difference is 10 or 15 years ago the prices were reasonable - or as close to reasonable as you're going to find in professional sports. Today? You're going to have to dish out so much money over so many years your head will be swimming. The more money guaranteed to a player the more risk involved.
The Cardinals prefer to avoid those risks.
That's why they put a ton of emphasis - as many teams are doing nowadays - on the annual draft. And based on their top pick, Gonzaga left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzales, the Cards are sticking to the same formula that has brought them to the level they're at today. A level of having the best minor league system in the game. A level that gives them the reputation of developing prospects better than anyone.
Gonzales profiles as a polished, near big league ready pitcher whose demeanor on the mound is as impressive as his actual stuff. There's a lot of guys that can go out there and throw 95 miles per hour. But not all of them have a bulldog mentality on the mound to the point where they never give in (a la Chris Carpenter). Not all of them have repeatable deliveries which is absolutely mandatory in professional baseball.
The Cardinals were very careful not to compare Gonzales to last year's first round pick Michael Wacha, who is already in the big leagues, but parts of the scouting report on them are virtually identical. Poised on the mound. Dominant change ups. Very safe picks. Close to the majors.
This is the formula that's allowed the Redbirds to be so successful. They scout intangibles. Other teams don't.
And it could lead to even greater success down the road for them.