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Dodgers, Phillies and Cardinals go #MizzouMade on MLB Draft’s last day

Three Tigers — including two juniors — round out the 2019 draft class.

Twitter: @MizzouBaseball

Jacob Cantleberry

Notable Numbers: Posted career-high strikeout numbers (97 total, 3.2 K/BB) in first SEC season; 2nd on 2019 team in games started and innings pitched

Outlook: Cantleberry wasn’t exactly a world-beater in his first year of SEC ball, but you have to be impressed with the progression of his numbers. The lefty totaled more strikeouts and fewer walks in fewer innings pitched than either of his first two seasons at San Jacinto CC. He was also the second starter in a Missouri staff that was one of the best in the country... regardless of his numbers, those are pretty impressive feats for a first-time D1 ballplayer.

As a college junior chosen after the 10th round — where teams will be hard-pressed to stretch their bonus pool money — Cantleberry has a decision to make. He has the opportunity to return to Missouri and further improve upon his numbers, likely raising his stock into the Top 10 rounds and earning himself some more money. However, he runs the risk of having a down year, likely scaring teams away with the fear of being a one-hit wonder. It will all depend on how much the Dodgers want him, and whether or not they’re able to get a little bit of their pool money back from the early rounds.

If Cantleberry does decide to stay with LA, he’ll likely face a few years in the low minors. He has a good fastball that sits in the low 90s and a changeup that flashes plus potential. However, he can’t be counted on as a starter if he doesn’t develop a consistent third pitch, which will likely be the focus of those first few development years. Cantleberry’s career trajectory suggests he’s coming into his ability as he gets older, so it will be up to him to decide whether or not he’s willing to gamble on himself in one more year at Mizzou or take the money and go to work in one of baseball’s best franchises.

Chris Cornelius

Notable Numbers: Started all 55 games in the 2019 season, posting a career-best .326/.385/.471 slash line; career-highs in home runs, walks, total bases, extra base hits, and isolated slugging percentage in 2019

Outlook: The Vianney product is another example of a player who has steadily improved throughout his college career, turning himself into a light-hitting middle infielder to one of the Tigers’ most consistent bats in a lineup that often hurt for offense. Steve Bieser has clearly been a good influence on him.

Cornelius’ college stats don’t exactly stand out, but he’s sure-handed with the glove and has shown some untapped power potential and on-base ability. He’s not as much of a threat on the bases as you may want to see from a middle-infielder, so he’ll need to continue developing his hit and power tools to really solidify his spot in the Phillies organization. The other thing to follow is his position, which will likely need to change. While shortstop has long been a defense-first position, the times have changed — many of the league’s best shortstops are now do-it-all players who provide either big power or elite on-base skill to match stellar defense. Cornelius’ size and tools suggest he is probably a second baseman in the upper minor leagues unless he’s able to really unleash his power stroke.

Like Cantleberry, Cornelius has the option to return to school for one more year and could choose to spend another year learning under Bieser. After the 10th round of the draft, it’s pretty much a crapshoot at who can stick in the majors, but Cornelius can look to his hometown team if he wants some future inspiration — Cardinal shortstop Paul DeJong was an unheralded prospect without any elite tools, yet has morphed into one of the league’s five best shortstops. Whether or not Cornelius begins his professional journey this year or next will come down, once again, to how much he wants to bet on himself in a potential senior year in Columbia.

Cameron Dulle

Notable Numbers: 1.43 ERA in 37.2 innings pitched in 2019; 0 home runs allowed, wild pitches or hit batters in his senior season

Outlook: First things first — and I know many of you will either not care or be loathe to hear this sort of commentary — but this has to feel extra cool for Dulle, assuming he’s a Cardinals fan. This is the sort of thing every young ballplayer dreams about growing up, but in a city completely focused on the Cardinals for the past 50 years, it takes on special significance to young St. Louisans. Not to mention, he’s an alumnus of one of the recent St. Louis sports heroes. Big summer for the Oakville crowd!

Now, to be honest, I padded the front of this preview with positivity because there’s not much to say about Dulle. He’s a very good reliever, and very good relievers tend to be fast risers in the minor leagues... but he’s also a 30th round pick, meaning his chances of making it to the bigs are low. That is by no means a condemnation of his game. It’s just that late-round picks are all a roll of the dice... you just have to hope he hits.