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A Brief Look at Luhnow, List-Like

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Good game tonight; nice to see Jaime bounce back in such a big way. I will admit, I was kind of hoping the Cards would tack on a few runs toward the end there, just so we might have a chance to see Shelby Miller make his major league debut. Oh, well. I'm sure we'll see him in the next few days anyway.

Speaking of Shelby, I wrote a brief column yesterday discussing his arrival in the big leagues, and in doing so I mentioned how good the 2009 draft has been for the Cardinals already. Which got me to thinking about the Jeff Luhnow era in general as scouting director, and the enormous strides the Cards' farm system made, going from perennial barrel-bottom scraper to a powerhouse system that should rank in the top three in baseball this offseason.

And so, in the interest of getting something up early in the morning -- it's a noon game today -- I thought I would take a very quick look back at the drafts Luhnow ran for the Cardinals. Warning: I'm not going into depth, just throwing out some notable names from each year.

The 2005 draft was Luhnow's first as head of the Cardinals' scouting and drafting operations; he was involved in the 2004 disaster (Ghost of Chris Lambert just tried to pop in, but I called the Wes Anderson Ghostbusters and had him escorted from my computer in slow motion while the Kinks' "Big Sky" played in the background), which the organisation ran with a skeletal group of scouts and virtually no cross-checkers as they attempted to transition to a new group, but was not yet the man in charge.

Both of the first rounders from that 2005 class are now gone; Colby Rasmus (28th overall), was shipped out late last season, and Tyler Greene (30th overall), left us just recently. And, to be honest, what looked for awhile like a brilliant draft for the Cards has turned out pretty mediocre as they years have worn on. Still, there were plenty of notable names. Jaime Garcia looks as if he may turn out to be the prize of the group, if he can stay healthy long enough to have the career his talent suggests he could.

2005

  • Colby Rasmus (1)
  • Tyler Greene (1)
  • Bryan Anderson (4)
  • Mitchell Boggs (5)
  • Nick Stavinoha (7)
  • Jaime Garcia (22)

Once upon a time, this looked to be a pretty incredible group. Anderson never really developed past about the age of 20 (power never showed up), Tyler and Colby both struggled to find consistency in the big leagues, and Stavinoha became a kind of bacterial infection VEBers were terrified of getting. Boggs and Garcia largely carry the torch for this group, which isn't to say that's a bad thing necessarily. There were plenty of other interesting names, guys like Mark McCormick, Daryl Jones, and Tyler Herron who didn't pan out for one reason or another.

2006

  • Adam Ottavino (1)
  • Chris Perez (1s)
  • Jon Jay (2)
  • Mark Hamilton (2)
  • Allen Craig (8)
  • David Carpenter (11)
  • Luke Gregerson (28)
  • Nick Additon (47)

A really nice group here, with the prizes obviously being the continually overachieving Jay and the continually slugging Allen Craig. Perez has turned into a very nice closer for the Indians, while Nick Additon is only 24 and could still end up seeing the big leagues at some point. Seeing Luke Gregerson on this list makes me sad; he isn't one of the best relievers in baseball currently the way he was for a bit there (or at least the best reliever no one had heard of), but he has still been a solid pitcher, and the Cards got Khalil Greene in return. Sigh. The big missed opportunity in my mind of this draft was picking a college lefty by the name of Brad Furnish over Brett Anderson. (Though Anderson has clearly had difficulties staying on the field in his short career.)

2007

  • Pete Kozma (1)
  • Clayton Mortensen (1s)
  • Jess Todd (3)
  • Daniel Descalso (4)
  • D.J. Hooker (8)
  • Adam Reifer (12)
  • Sam Freeman (24)
  • Adron Chambers (38)

Yikes. Kind of a rough group here. Mortensen helped nab Matt Holliday, and Jess Todd went with Chris Perez in the David DeJesus deal. Adam Reifer looked like a future closer until hurting his knee last year and struggling to return this season. When Dan Descalso is the cream of the crop (and this is nothing against Descalso), you know the pickings were a little slim.

2008

  • Brett Wallace (1)
  • Lance Lynn (1s)
  • Shane Peterson (2)
  • Scott Gorgen (4)
  • Alex Castellanos (10)
  • Sam Freeman (actually signed this time)
  • Danny Miranda (50; went to Miami instead and was redrafted by the Cards later)

Shane Peterson and Castellanos were used as trade pieces; Castellanos to grab Rafael Furcal last year and Peterson as part of the Holliday deal which was headlined by Brett Wallace. Lance Lynn turned out pretty awesome, though he looks a little tired here lately. Not a great group overall.

2009

  • Shelby Miller (1)
  • Robert Stock (2)
  • Joe Kelly (3)
  • Ryan Jackson (5)
  • Hector Hernandez (10)
  • Matt Carpenter (13)
  • Anthony Garcia (18)
  • Trevor Rosenthal (21)
  • Matt Adams (23)
  • Keith Butler (24)

Holy shit. That's one hell of a haul. Of course, we thought that about the '05 class for awhile too, and this group will likely go through the same sort of attrition over the next couple seasons. But even so, this is the sort of class that can jump a farm system up to the top of the heap in a hurry.

2010

  • Zack Cox (1)
  • Seth Blair (1s)
  • Tyrell Jenkins (1s)
  • Jordan Swagerty (2)
  • Cody Stanley (4)
  • John Gast (6)
  • Greg Garcia (7)
  • Tyler Lyons (9)
  • Austin Wilson (13, single tear)
  • Boone Whiting (19)
  • Mike O'Neil (31)
  • Justin Wright (47)

Interesting group here, with a couple names that really stand out. Tyrell Jenkins is one of the organisation's top pitching prospects, though he mostly treaded water this season, and Jordan Swagerty looked like an excellent short relief prospect before Tommy John this year. The lefties Gast and Lyons both look like future big leaguers of one sort or another, and Greg Garcia has been surprisingly good in pro ball. Austin Wilson went to Stanford and has been quite good for the (wrong) Cardinal. The other guys on this list are all intriguing for one reason or another, though this class is so recent it looks much better than it will end up in all likelihood.

2011

  • Kolten Wong (1)
  • Charlie Tilson (2)
  • C.J. McElroy (3)
  • Adam Ehrlich (6)
  • Danny Miranda (remember him from above?)
  • Lance Jeffries (10)
  • Seth Manness (11)

I could actually list a dozen or more names from this draft who belong in the Persons of Interest category, but the fact is we just don't know enough about this draft yet. Wong looks good (tee-hee), if not quite as close to the big leagues as we thought six months ago, and Tilson was very impressive in extended spring training this year before a nasty shoulder injury blew his season up. It was an odd draft overall, heavy on athleticism and speed, which prompted some to wonder aloud if speedy outfielders represented some new kind of Moneyball attempt by the Cardinals.

Jeff Luhnow ran seven drafts for the Cardinals before he was spirited away by the Astros; at the moment the '06 and '09 classes are the two that really stand out as exceptional. Only the 2007 draft looks like a real dog, and even then the Cards came up with a few useful pieces. (More than anything, '07 was just a rotten year in general. Go look at the full first round that year. It's brutal.)

I'm scheduling this for three in the morning, and then it's day baseball. Have a nice Wednesday, everyone.