Thursday, March 08, 2007
The Phillies drafted Cardenas, who was just eighteen years old, in the first round of the draft out of Monsignor Pace High School in Opa Locka, Florida. The immensely talented Cardenas hit .647 (75-for-116), with eighteen home runs, eighteen doubles, three triples and fourteen stolen bases. Cardenas had a whopping 65 RBIs and 52 runs scored. Cardenas led Monsignor Pace to a victory in the state title game. Baseball America was so amazed by Cardenas performance that they named him the 2006 High School Player of the Year. The Phillies liked him so much they took him with the thirty-seventh pick in the draft, after they took Drabek.
A calm, intelligent player (he graduated in the top ten percent of his class), Cardenas seems to have an outstanding background and poses a low character risk. He moved from high school ball to the Gulf Coast League – rookie league – very well, leading the GCL Phillies in On-Base Percentage (OBP) and Slugging Percentage. Cardenas was clearly the GCL Phillies finest player, placing first on the team in runs scored, RBIs, and stolen bases. He finished fourth in the Gulf Coast League in OBP and was eighth in stolen bases.
It is difficult to evaluate if Cardenas will be a power hitter given that it is difficult to hit many home runs in the GCL (The Tigers rookie team led the league with thirty-five in fifty games), but his two home runs don’t seem to dictate that he’ll be a singles hitter for his entire career. I looked it up and discovered that of all of the balls put into play in the GCL in 2006, 48% of them were ground-balls, 12% were line-drives, and 31% were fly-balls (the rest were pop flies). When Cardenas put the ball into play, he hit grounders 45% of the time, line-drives 17% of the time and 32% were fly-balls. Cardenas .826 OPS is one-hundred and sixty-one points above the GCL average. Generally, I found Cardenas’ numbers to be pretty much average-to-above-average, which suggests to me that he won’t be a singles hitter exclusively. Cardenas will develop a little power to his swing.
Speed isn’t an issue. Cardenas is fast. He attempted sixteen steals in 2006 and was successful thirteen times. He also hit four triples. The triple, which requires a player to round the bases and go 270 feet while the ball is still in play, is the most exciting play in baseball and requires a lot of speed to make happen. Cardenas’ four triples tied him for fourth in the GCL with four other players. He’s got speed to burn.
I looked at Cardenas and it struck me that he resembled Chase Utley a lot, so I looked at Utley’s numbers from when he entered the minors in the summer of 2000. Because Utley played baseball at UCLA he got to skip rookie league ball and advance to short-season Single-A ball in Batavia. The comparisons between Utley and Cardenas are uncanny:
Cardenas / Utley
GPA: .283 / .283
ISO: .124 / .137
Yes, the comparisons aren’t perfect: there are some differences between the GCL circa 2006 and the New York-Penn League (NYPL) circa 2000, but the basic similarities are there. They both hit two home runs in almost the same number of At-Bats (153 for Utley, 154 for Cardenas), they drew nearly the same number of walks (18 for Utley, 17 for Cardenas), and they struck out nearly the same number of times (23 for Utley, Cardenas 28). They profile as nearly the same player.
In the final analysis, I think the Adrian Cardenas has a very, very promising future. He’ll advance swiftly through the minors (expect to see him in Single-A Williamsport or Single-A Lakewood in 2007) and arrive in Philadelphia in 2009 or 2010. He’s an extremely talented player and I will be shocked if he isn’t wearing a Phillies uniform in the future.