The Cardinals entered the first-year player draft this year with a mid-tier farm system, so John Mozeliak and director of scouting Randy Flores look to provide a boost and sign some future major league contributors. Let’s take a look at some of their selections from day 1.

Round 1 Pick 23: Delvin Perez (SS) – Puerto Rico

With their first pick, the Cardinals went with the “best available” approach in drafting the toolsy shortstop out of Puerto Rico. Despite a recent positive test for performance-enhancing drugs dropping his draft stock, the Cards decided his talent outweighed the risk and made the 17-year-old their first pick.

Scouts have praised his soft, quick hands on defense, while noting that his bat will come along as he matures. The pick may come as a surprise to some fans, as Aledmys Diaz seems to have established himself as the shortstop of the future, but the truth is it’s still a small sample size, and a guy like Perez won’t be ready for the bigs for at least a handful of seasons.

Round 1 Pick 33: Dylan Carlson (OF) – Elk Grove HS

With the compensation pick for John Lackey signing with the Cubs, the Cards took another high school hitter. Carlson is a switch-hitting outfielder, but his larger stature means a move to first base could be in the cards. In the mean time, he’ll man the corner outfield spots for the Cardinals’ minor league affiliates. Carlson checks in at 6’3″ 195 lbs, and scouts say that he’s a professional hitter. We’ve seen the Cards stick a guy like Matt Holliday in left field despite his defensive shortcomings, so Carlson shouldn’t have a problem working his way into their major league plans in the future.

Round 1 Pick 34: Dakota Hudson (RHP) – Mississippi State

The Cards’ very next pick also came from the Cubs, this time as compensation for Jason Heyward’s offseason departure. Dakota Hudson represents a shift in draft strategy from the first couple of picks, as the righty pitcher for the Mississippi State Bulldogs just finished his Junior year. It’s not out of the question for an advanced college guy like Hudson to be on the fast track to the majors in a relief role.¬†Hudson is said to sit in the low-to-mid 90’s with his fastball, although he can occasionally touch 97. His slider is his go-to out pitch on the mound, while he also throws a cutter and is still developing a changeup.

Round 2 Pick 70: Connor Jones (RHP) – Virginia

With their last pick of day 1, the Cards selected another college arm in Connor Jones. The big righty was the Friday night starter for the Cavaliers this season, so he’s no stranger to pitching on a big stage. He thrived in this role, too, going 11-1 with a 2.34 ERA in 2016.

While some showed concern at his drop in strikeout rate from 2015 to 2016, the flip side of that is that his ground ball rate has spiked. His sinking fastball sits 90-94 and is what helps to generate most of the ground balls. Scouts have said that his off speed pitches still need time to develop, which may help improve his strikeout numbers down to road.

Photo Captured by Jason Vinlove – USA TODAY Sports