Draft and development is the best way to build a strong baseball team. The St. Louis Cardinals have become the best organization in Major League Baseball. Not because they go out and snag high priced talent, but because so many of their draft choices make it to the big leagues. On their current roster they have several budding stars that were drafted in the later rounds like Matt Carpenter, Trevor Rosenthal, and Matt Adams. The team has also struck gold on many of their top draft choices in the first round, too. During the past decade, they have had many first round draft picks who have turned into stars or have been used as trade bait to get big stars. Here is a look at the last decade’s worth of first round (non-supplemental round`) picks.
Drafted with the 19th pick of the 2004 draft, Chris Lambert is one of the few Cardinal first round busts. After coming to the Cardinals with high accolades as a member of team USA and Boston College’s leader in ERA and strikeouts, Lambert struggled to put in all together as a Cardinals prospect. He slid down in the prospect ranks until he was finally traded to the Detroit Tigers for Mike Maroth. Lambert never did pitch for the Cardinals and only appeared in 14 career games.
2005-Colby Rasmus and Tyler Greene
Colby Rasmus was selected with the 28th pick of the 2005 draft. He quickly rose up the ranks with the Cardinals and as MLB.com stated he was viewed as “an elite centerfielder who can do it all.” As a minor leaguer, Rasmus was able to have very successful seasons, and was even rated as the #3 prospect by Baseball America in 2009. When finally called up to the Cardinals, Rasmus was initially successful, but a rocky relationship between his father and manager Tony Larussa led to his eventual departure via trade. When the Cardinals traded Rasmus in 2011, they were able to land pitchers Edwin Jackson and Marc Rzepczynski who were able to lead them to a 2011 World Championship.
Tyler Greene was also selected in the first round and never fulfilled his prophesized talent as a first rounder. As a first-team All American in college, Greene was never able to consistently hit big league pitching. Although he was a member to the clubs 2011 World Championship team, Greene was traded the next season to the Astros. Currently, is looking to get back to the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves.
Adam Ottavino, the 30th pick of the 2006 draft never worked out the way the team had hoped. Ottavino suffered through injuries and never pitched like a first round draft pick with the team. He pitched in only five career games with the Cardinals, and is currently a member of the Colorado Rockies bullpen where he has appeared in 50 plus games each of the past two seasons.
In 2007, the St. Louis Cardinals selected Peter Kozma with the 18th pick of the draft. While he has not put up top flight numbers, Kozma’s above average glove earned the starting job at short last season. Kozma struggled at the plate during his first full season last year, batting .214 and creating a hole in the stacked Cardinal lineup. With the addition of Jhonny Peralta, Kozma will become a defensive upgrade off of the bench.
When the Cardinals selected Brett Wallace out of Arizona State University, his bat quickly made him a top prospect. Baseball America quickly ranked him in their top 50 prospect list after his impressive debut where he hit .337 through two minor league levels. He was expected to be a powerful slugger, who would consistently get on base. But, instead of earning a call-up Wallace was a key piece in a trade with the Oakland Athletics that allowed the Cardinals to acquire Matt Holliday, who has been a vital part of the team’s championship runs.
Eventually, Wallace was again traded to Houston. He is currently a part time player with the Astros, who hit a career high 13 homeruns last season. However, he has not shown the same consistency with his pedestrian .221 batting average last season.
This draft also gave the club Lance Lynn in the first round with the 39th pick in compensation for the loss of Troy Percival.
The fire-balling Shelby Miller was selected with the 19th pick of the 2009 draft out of high school. The hard throwing right hander was immediately viewed as a top prospect by Baseball America. In his minor league career, Miller showed his strikeout prowess by averaging 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
Last season, Miller entered his first full big league season and completely lived up to his billing as a future ace. In his 31 starts last season, the 23 year old right hander went 15-9 and was able to finish third in the Rookie of the Year voting. In many starts, like his one hit seven inning performance against Milwaukee on April 2nd and his one hit complete game victory against Colorado on May 10th, Miller was flat out dominant. While he was surprisingly left out of the playoff rotation this past October, Miller’s dazzling arsenal of pitches should be a mainstay in the Cardinals rotation for a long time.
Zack Cox had a very successful start to his minor league career, hitting .335 at high A Palm Springs in 2011. But struggled when he reached AA. Though 2011 and 2012 he was part of Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list, but never lived up to the billing. Cox was eventually traded for the 2013 all-star closer, Edward Mujica, who was very important piece of the Cardinals 2013 bullpen. Cox on the other hand, never played in a big league game.
Kolten Wong was selected with the 22nd pick of the 2011 draft. The second baseman out of Hawaii showed immediately that he could hit. He posted a .335 batting average during 44 games in the Midwest league. His bat continued to stay hot during the rest of his minor league time which eventually led to his late call-up last season. During this offseason, former third baseman, David Fresse was traded and Matt Carpenter was moved to third base to make room for Wong. While his glove and his steady bat will be his calling card in the major leagues, many analysts project Wong to have a solid major league career and a possible Rookie of the Year season.
2012-Michael Wacha and James Ramsey
In compensation for losing Albert Pujols, the Cardinals selected Michael Wacha with the 19th pick of the 2012 draft. Last spring Wacha did not make the Cardinals roster but he certainly made an impression. When he finally was called-up he dominated the competition. In 64.2 innings pitched, Wacha struck out a batter per inning, and put together a WHIP of 1.098. He pitched even better in the post season, where he was able to win four games and post a WHIP of under one. Although he was just a 21 year old rookie, he looked like a seasoned veteran on the hill during each October start.
With their own pick, the Cardinals selected outfielder James Ramsey out of Florida State University. During his first full big league season last year, Ramsey jumped three levels all the way to AAA Memphis while having a strong .373 on-base percentage. Former scout, Bernie Pleskoff likes Ramsey’s (HYPERLINK FROM IPAD) “speed and quickness and that he takes the pitch where it is thrown.” The only problem noted with Ramsey, is there’s no room for him in the Cardinals outfield. It seems that Ramsey will be shuffled around the diamond much like other Cardinals to make himself a more valuable utility player.
2013-Marco Gonzales and Rob Kaminsky
The 2013 first round draft pick, Marco Gonzales grew up around baseball with his father as a coach in the Colorado Rockies organization. Although he only pitched 16.2 innings in the Florida State League last season, the 22 year old left hander could quickly move up the ladder of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching goldmine.
In compensation for Kyle Loshe, the Cardinals also selected Rob Kaminsky with the 28th pick of the draft. Kaminsky is a hard throwing lefty selected out of a New Jersey high school. MLB.com reports that his fast ball can touch 95 mph. Already he is ranked as the club’s eighth best prospect and a strong first full season can help him move up even higher.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference
References: Cardinals First Round Draft Choices
Other Similar Articles by Author: Brewers First Round Draft Picks