PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 10: U.S. Futures All-Star Shelby Miller #19 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches in the third inning during the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on July 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
As Futures Game participation goes, the Cardinals managed to paint a surprisingly representative picture of their minor league rosters with their 2011 picks. The Cardinals' farm system is pitching-heavy and dominated by Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez, and that's exactly what we saw. It doesn't always work like that; sometimes the player who gets chosen is the only guy who could show up, and sometimes there's just nobody in the system who deserves to be there.
With that in mind, the Cardinals' participants since 2001, the first year MLB.com has rosters available:
2001: Josh Pearce, Bill Ortega. This is the perfect storm: An empty minor league system and the wrong guy shows up anyway. Pearce was a prospect-by-default who put up decent minor league numbers, moved quickly, and was never a threat to carve out a permanent role on the Cardinals back when the team combined perennially high expectations with a farm so barren that Brett Tomko and Tony Womack seemed like good ideas.
Was Pearce any worse than some of the players the Cardinals tried out in their rotation in the early aughts? Probably not all of them. But Walt Jocketty was always more willing to trust a reclamation project than a regular project.
Bill Ortega was a Cuban defector who couldn't replicate a solid AA season in two AAA attempts. Of course, the Cardinals would have had a fine Memphis hitter available if Bobby Bonilla had just stayed healthy.
2002: Jimmy Journell. Jimmy Journell!
The Cardinals' top prospect in the Ankiel-Hawksworth interregnum, Journell looked like a respectable top prospect before shoulder problems turned him into a hard-throwing, command-free reliever. Articles about him invariably began, "The Cardinals have a garbage farm system, but hey, this Jimmy Journell kid!"
2003: Chris Narveson. After that sentence, they would add, "And that Narveson kid, he's okay, if you like that sort of thing."
2004: Brad Thompson. That's right. So far this decade the top future Major Leaguer on the Futures Game rolls is our very own Wonderbrad.
Sup Future Rednerds!!!!! Remember that time they put me in the All-Star Game!? I hadn't even pitched in the Majors yet!!!! No way!!!!
2006: Jaime Garcia. Well, Brad, it was a good run.
2008: Bryan Anderson, Jess Todd, Fernando Salas, Jaime Garcia, Colby Rasmus. In a very slightly different universe all five of these guys are on the Cardinals' roster at this very moment. The team has the exact record it does in this universe.
2009: Brett Wallace, Daryl Jones, Francisco Samuel. This might best represent the variety of Futures Game experience. There's a genuine top prospect in Brett Wallace, a guy at or near the peak of his value in Daryl Jones, and a completely inexplicable pick in Francisco Samuel, who is as we speak in the process of another comeback, rehabbing with the GCL Cardinals. If he's ever going to stick in Memphis it will be in the year of the Great Reliever Purge.
2010: Shelby Miller, Eduardo Sanchez. Unfortunately, by 2011 the Cardinals had run out of easily confused right-handed relief prospects to nominate to this thing; all that work to make "Adam Sreifer" his legal name was for nothing, in the end.