With the 2007 and 2008 drafts covered, today we’ll look back at the 2009 MLB First-Year Draft. From top to bottom, it was one of the most successful drafts (in terms of draftees making the big-league scene) the Cardinals have had.
St. Louis’s first selection of the draft was right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller out of Brownwood High School in Texas. Miller rose quickly through the Minors, reaching Triple-A — and eventually the Majors — by the 2012 season. Miller served as a full-time starter for the Cardinals in 2013 and 2014, starting 31 games in each of those seasons.
In 2013, Miller worked to a 2.4 WAR in 173 1⁄3 frames. Miller finished in third place for the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year Award behind Miami Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. To follow up a stellar 2013, Miller held batters to a collective .232 batting average in 183 innings of work in 2014.
The Cardinals traded Miller to the Atlanta Braves in December of 2014 as part of their acquisition of outfielder Jason Heyward. Miller later moved on to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the trade involving former first-round pick Dansby Swanson. Miller underwent Tommy John surgery back in May and is expected to return by the middle of 2018.
Right-hander Joe Kelly was drafted by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2009 draft. Kelly, a University of California-Riverside alumni, reached the Majors by 2012, when he appeared in 24 games — including 16 starts — for St. Louis.
In 2013, Kelly emerged as a very versatile pitcher for the Cardinals, logging 124 innings pitched in 37 games - 15 of them being starts. Kelly posted a 2.69 ERA in his 2013 campaign and limited his opponents to 0.73 HR/9.
After making just seven starts in the first few months of the 2014 season, the Cardinals sent Kelly along with Allen Craig to the Boston Red Sox for starter John Lackey and reliever Corey Littrell. In 2017, Kelly pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for the Red Sox and was very successful. Kelly pitched in 54 games for Boston, punching out 52 batters and allowing only three home runs in 58 frames.
Matt Carpenter was taken by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 2009 draft, the 399th overall pick out of Texas Christian University. Carpenter, a left-handed-hitting infielder, made it to St. Louis by 2011, and it’s been pretty uphill ever since.
Carpenter slashed .294/.365/.463 in 114 games for the Cardinals in 2012 and shattered those numbers with his 2013 performance. In 157 games, Carpenter maintained a 146 wRC+ and a 6.9 WAR with 55 doubles and 11 home runs. Carpenter led the team with 126 runs scored and 72 walks, and his .318 batting mark trailed only Yadier Molina (.319) for the team lead.
In 2015, Carpenter displayed a surge of power that wasn’t evident in the past: the Cardinals’ leadoff hitter led the club with 28 long balls and a .505 slugging percentage. The power has continued through the 2017 season, as the 31-year-old Carpenter blasted 21 homers in 2016 and 23 more in ‘17.
The Cardinals’ 21st round pick was right-hander and Missouri native Trevor Rosenthal. The powerful hurler reached Double-A, Triple-A, and the Majors all in 2012 and held a bullpen spot in each season since.
Rosenthal worked to a 12.9 K/9 rate in 75 1⁄3 innings out of the bullpen in 2013 and dazzled enough to earn the closer’s job for the 2014 season. Rosenthal saved 45 games in 2014, and he saved another 48 in 2015 - the year of his first All-Star selection. He lost the title of ‘closer’ to Seung Hwan Oh for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, yet still saved 25 games between the two years.
His 2017 campaign was cut short, however, as it was announced in late August that the elbow discomfort he had been experiencing was linked to his need for Tommy John surgery. Rosenthal underwent the procedure in late August and is expected to miss the entire 2018 season.
In turn, the Cardinals granted Rosenthal his unconditional release earlier in November.
The final player we’ll scout from the 2009 draft was taken just a pick removed from Rosenthal; that player is Matt Adams, a left-handed slugger out of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.
Adams made his big-league debut in 2012 and played in 108 games for St. Louis in 2013. His 2014 season was perhaps best for the Cardinals, as Adams slashed .288/.321/.457 with 15 home runs and a 116 wRC+ in 142 games at first base. His 2014 season - and his whole St. Louis career, frankly - will be highlighted by his improbable, go-ahead home run off Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw in the postseason.
Injury limited Adams in the 2015 season, and he struck out 24.8 percent of the time in 2016 to go with a .249 batting mark in 118 games. With his playing time scarce in the Gateway City, Adams was traded to the Atlanta Braves in May of 2017 for infield prospect Juan Yepez.
Adams finished 2017 batting .271 with 19 homers in 100 games for the Braves.
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