I may be unusual in this respect, but I find the arc of how major league players make the majors fascinating. Or not make the majors. I like looking at the players the Cardinals drafted, seeing at what point they looked like they may be legitimate MLB players and at what point that stopped being the case. Some players hit well in the low minors and started struggling when they got to the high minors. Some players were okay at every level and kept getting promoted because that's what you do, but that usually doesn't translate to being in the majors either. Some players got injured and were never the same. So I will look at all 50 draft picks from the 2010 draft (so picked because an 18-year-old drafted then would be 25 now - anybody older than that still in the Cardinals system is someone whose story you already know).
#25 Overall - Zack Cox
Most of you know this story. Cox was a very late signee, signing on August 17 for $3.2 million. So far, that's pretty much the highlight of his career. He signed so late that he only played in 4 games for the GCL Cardinals, but he batted .400 with a double, a walk, and three strikeouts in 17 PAs. Due to this, he played in the Arizona Fall League over the winter and basically held his own considering his lack of experience. He wasn't good. He had a .779 OPS, which sounds better than it is because the AFL is a very offensive environment. In 2011, he was the #62 prospect by Baseball America. He was somewhat aggressively promoted to Palm Beach, where he had a 129 wRC+, though the underlying numbers weren't that impressive in this writer's opinion. It came with a .104 ISO, a 6.1 BB%, and a .388 BABIP. Palm Beach is tough on hitters so this was enough reason to promote him to Springfield before the year was over.
So far, so good for a hitter expected to advance quickly with an awesome hit tool. He hit fine at a level where Daniel Descalso dominated, as Springfield seems particularly kind to left-handed hitters. I know I'm playing revisionist here. But he didn't have a lot of power (.139 ISO - Descalso had a .208 ISO in AA) on his way to a 112 wRC+. His best trait was that he struck out a below average amount of the time, because he didn't have much power and he didn't walk too terribly much.
He got promoted to Memphis, where he was AWFUL. His walk rate dropped to 3.8%, his K rate rose to 19.9%, and his BABIP dropped to .295, leading to a wRC+ of 79. Midseason, he was traded for Edward Mujica, which at the time was seen as selling really low. Mujica pitched incredible in the half season after the trade, and because he was still under team control for 2013, he pitched fine in his only full season with the club. Needless to say, getting 0.7 fWAR - and a ridiculous 2.7 RA9 WAR - was just about the best outcome since Cox's terrible 1st half of 2012 proved to be what he was. He's still trying though. For his age 28 season last year, he hit nearly exactly league average for the AAA squad of the Tigers.
Notable 1st round draftees: Bryce Harper (#1), Jameson Taillon (#2), Manny Machado (#3), Drew Pomeranz (#5), Matt Harvey (#7), Delino DeShields (#8), Deck McGuire (#11 - No really this guy was drafted 11th), Yasmani Grandal (#12), Chris Sale (#13), Mike Foltynewicz (#19), Christian Yelich (#23), Cam Bedrosian (#29)
1a supplemental round
#46 overall - Seth Blair
#50 overall - Tyrell Jenkins
Seth Balir never looked like he was going to be an MLB pitcher with the way he pitched in the minor leagues, but made it to AAA because he was a 1st round pick. Some of these players' journeys are interesting, but Blair's is not at all. He didn't pitch after he got drafted, so he started his season in 2011 with Quad Cities. He started 21 games and was not good with 5+ ERA, FIP, and xFIP. Because of injuries, he pitched less than 20 innings total in 2012, and it was the same story as 2011 except this time at Palm Beach. For 2013, the Cardinals promoted him again, this time to Springfield, hoping to get a different result and for the first time, his peripherals were not too bad. He still had a 5.07 ERA, but his FIP was 4.38 and his xFIP was 3.96. Springfield was a hitter's park so that's something. The Cardinals kept in AA for the 2014 season and his numbers collapsed. He walked more than he struck out in 26 games pitched, 11 of them starts. They tried him in relief in AAA for six games, but he nearly walked two times the amount he struck out. He didn't pitch in the majors again.
Tyrell Jenkins was similar to Blair in that his minor league numbers were never really that good. But he had a lot of projection and wasn't necessarily expected to be good right away. Blair was drafted out of Arizona State and was expected to be good immediately. I lied a little. His career did get off to a good start. In his first full season, at the age of 18, he pitched 56 innings with an 8.84 K/9 and 2.09 BB/9, leading to a 3.86 ERA and 3.37 FIP. His performance made him the #94 prospect on Baseball America before the 2012 season. in 2012, he was aggressively promoted to Quad Cities at only 19, where he was fine and even good for his age. But due to injuries, he only started 19 games. Injuries struck again in 2013, allowing him to only throw a combined 59 innings the whole year. He repeated at Quad Cities and his numbers got worse. He struck out less and walked more. He played 10 promising innings at Palm Beach to end the year, where his strikeout numbers fell even further (to 5.40 K/9), but he walked just one batter.
He pretty much did exactly that for a full season at Palm Beach in 2014. Well "full season." He started only 13 games and his numbers turned out fine, though I'll add that it wasn't really the kind of "fine" you want from a prospect. He struck out less than 5 batters an inning and you can't really get worse than that in the MLB. He continued not walking people, leading to a 4.03 xFIP and a 3.28 ERA. The Braves were fooled by this and he was a part of the Shelby Miller-Jason Heyward trade. He kind of repeated the same year at every level for the Braves - technically the numbers came out fine, but he was just not striking anybody out. He got promoted to the MLB in 2016 and he continued not striking anybody out, but he also started walking everybody, leading to a 5.88 ERA and even worse peripherals. The Padres picked him up last year and he was so bad that they dropped him from the AAA before the season was over. The Padres.
Notable Draftees - Aaron Sanchez (#34), Noah Syndergaard (#38), Taijuan Walker (#43), Nick Castellanos (#44)
Gee, would have been nice if one of those three pitchers had dropped to the Cardinals (though there's obviously no guarantee they would have drafted them)
#75 overall - Jordan Swagerty
Here is the second pitcher in a row whereinjuries are the reason for their failure. He was more screwed by injuries than Jenkins though. He signed the same day that Zack Cox did, but he didn't pitch that season. In 2011, he started the year at Quad Cities. He was fantastic. In 5 starts, he struck out 28.9% of batters and walked 1.9%. Yes, you read that right. He quickly got promoted to Palm Beach, where he was less great, but still pretty great. He had a 1.82 ERA and 2.71 FIP. This came with only 7 starts and 15 relief appearances. He pitched 9 bad innings of relief to close out his 2011 season for Springfield. He did not pitch at all in 2012. He pitched 10 total innings in 2013 and didn't pitch in 2014. He attempted to come back in 2015, but he walked 21 batters to 8 strikeouts in 16 innings while allowing 29 runs (22 earned). And that was the end of his career.
Notable Draftees - Sammy Solis (#51), Brett Eibner (#54), Vincent Velasquez (#58), Jedd Gyorko (#59), Jacob Petricka (#63), Drew Smyly (#68), Andrelton Simmons (#70), Jarrett Parker (#74), Chad Bettis (#76), Derek Dietrich (#79)
This seems like a pretty good draft, no?
#106 - Samuel Tuivailala
Given that he is going to spend the year in the MLB bullpen in 2018, I won't say much on him, except to note that he was listed as a SS when drafted. He advanced very quickly through the system as a pitcher obviously. When he made it to AAA and the MLB at only 21, his numbers were pretty consistently great, but to this point he's not really had all that great of numbers at either level since. They have mostly been fine. (His ERA was, uh, considerably lower than his peripherals at both AAA and MLB last season) He also only pitched one inning in 2014, but he did pitch an inning there, so this will be the fifth year where he pitches in the MLB amazingly. He just turned 25.
Notable Draftees - Tony Wolters (#87), Addison Reed (#95), Tyler Thornburg (#96), JT Realmuto (#104), Cameron Rupp (#108)
They missed out on a couple backup catchers they'd never use and an actually good catcher they'd never use, plus two relievers who took awhile to become good. Hopefully, that will sound familiar by next year.
#139 - Cody Stanley
Stanely was drafted out of UNC and signed immediately, because he was able to bat in 234 PAs with a 143 wRC+ at Johnson City before 2010 was over. He started 2011 in Quad Cities and his batting line went significantly down, but his 109 wRC+ still played very well at catcher. He got promoted to Palm Beach before the year was over and he was a below average hitter (94 wRC+). He split 2013 between Palm Beach and Springfield, with the majority coming at Springfield and didn't hit very well at either. At 25, he repeated Springfield and this time did quite well, with a 119 wRC+. In 2015, he had a bad 300 PAs in Memphis, but he was on the 40 man roster so he came up in September, where he had 10 memorable PAs, batting .400 and leaving some with promise as a future backup. And then he got busted for PEDs. It doesn't look like he's played since then.
Notable draftees - AJ Cole (#116), Sam Dyson (#126), James Paxton (#132), Eddie Rosario (#135), Russell Wilson (#140)
Yes, that is the same Russell Wilson who plays for the Seattle Seahawks.
#199 - John Gast
Gast started his minor league career at Batavia in the same year he was drafted, where he pitched 35 strong innings. He skipped Quad Cities and pitched in Palm Beach for 2011 and he was fine, but not good (especially given it's a pitching environment). He still got promoted to Springfield in the middle of the season though and he was not all that good (4.89 FIP). Still, he was a lefty who was drafted the year before and made it to AA. He was the #13 prospect in the Cardinals system by John Sickels, who said he had the stuff of a #3 starter, or could dominate in the pen. He had 8 pretty good starts in Springfield to start 2012, getting promoted to Memphis quickly. He was pretty bad in Memphis. Injuries derailed his 2013 season, but when he pitched, it was encouraging. He had 7 good starts in Memphis, leading him to get a promotion to the big league club. At 24, he started 3 not terrible games (though not good either), but he only pitched 4 innings a start. In 2014, injuries again derailed his season, and this time he was bad in Memphis when he pitched. His 2015 season appears to have been his last, where he pitched the most innings that he'd had since 2012, but he had a 5+ ERA and a 4.61 FIP. Another case where if injuries weren't a factor, you can see an MLB career here fairly easily.
Notable draftees - Scott Alexander (#179), Jesse Hahn (#191), Kevin Guasman (#202)
There were a couple backup catchers I chose to ignore here as well. Gausman was drafted out of high school and did not sign with the Dodgers.
#229 - Greg Garcia
Garcia has a simple story. He walked his way to the big leagues. And he hasn't stopped walking since. (Seriously, this exercise interests me more for the failures - and failures is too harsh a word given the success rate at this point, so I'm basically ignoring the successes)
Notable draftees - Tyler Saladino (#218), Mark Canha (#227),
I actually think Greg Garcia was the best selection of the 7th round. Huh.
#259 - Daniel Bibona
Bibona actually was drafted by the Cardinals as a junior out of UC Irvine in 2009 in the 16th round, but he chose to return to college, and then the Cardinals drafted him again here. His listed height is 6'0, but I remember at the time he was considered shorter because I remember him being considered as a lefty specialist pick. He did start games in the minors though. But not very many at all. He pitched in Quad Cities for 33 innings, where he compiled a 1.91 ERA and 3.12 FIP. Then he pitched 7 innings two years later in Batavia and that was it for his career. We can presume injuries ruined his career.
Notable draftees - Matt Grace (#236), Kole Calhoun (#264)
#289 - Tyler Lyons
Oh hell yeah. The only thing to know now is who else was drafted in this round.
Neck-and-neck race for best pick in this round between Lyons and Merrifield. If Merrifield is for real though, Lyons doesn't stand a chance cause he's a reliever.
#319 - Reginald Williams
Kind of unclear what happened to this guy. He got drafted out of a junior college and started his career in 2010 in Johnson City. He was decent with a 104 wRC+. He then played less than 100 PAs total for the rest of his career, including 39 PAs of 126 wRC+ at Palm Beach in 2011. He repeated Palm Beach in 2012 and was bad, but it was only in 35 PAs. Injuries are the only thing that make sense for the low PA totals.
#349 - Ben Freeman
Drafted out of high school, Freeman pitched 43 solid innings in the Gulf Coast League following the draft in 2010. He got promoted to Johnson City where he pitched a little worse. I'm guessing he had some injury problems because he only pitched 49 innings all year. He did strike out nearly 9 batters an inning. He pitched in Batavia at 20 in 2012 and he was actually quite good. Again, he only pitched 49 innings though. He didn't pitch again after that.
Notable Draftees - Chasen Shreve (#344), Grant Dayton (#347), Adam Duvall (#348), Joc Pederson (#352)
Been a boring few rounds here, but randomly get four players who may be useful MLB players next year.
#379 - Austin Wilson
VEB's favorite draft pick back in 2010 did not end up signing with the Cardinals and never made it past A+. He did end up signing with the Cardinals literally though, getting drafted in the minor league Rule 5, but he was quite bad.
Notable Draftees - Robbie Ray (#356), Kyle Ryan (#373)
Seeing just two MLB players here reminds you why you draft guys you don't expect to sign in this round. Because they may sign!
#409 - Colin Walsh
Well here's an unusual one. Walsh was drafted out of Stanford so he only stayed in Johnson City for 6 games after getting drafted. I assume a spot opened up quickly or they only had room for him at JC at the time because he wasn't really good in those 6 games. Also it was 6 games. In 24 games in Batavia, he destroyed the league with a 149 wRC+. He got further promoted to Quad Cities, where his batting line went all the way down to just being average. But he did this all in the same year he was drafted. He stayed in Quad Cities for the 2011 season and presumably had injury issues because he only played in 69 games (with a 117 wRC+). He played in Quad Cities for the third straight year in 2012, absolutely crushing the league (164 wRC+) and never getting promoted for it. He did play in the AFL later that year, having a batting line of .281/.408/.439.
At 23, he had a 121 wRC+ at Palm Beach in 94 games. This time, he got promoted for his troubles. He was very bad in Springfield though, managing a wRC+ of only 82. The Cardinals said "Fuck this" and released him after the season, which I find curious because that's a quick hook. He got signed as a minor league FA by the Oakland Athletics where he traversed between High A and AAA, being great in High A, decent in AA, and bad in AAA. in 2015, he played the entire season in AA and had a 163 wRC+ at 25. He got drafted in the Rule 5 draft by the Brewers over that offseason, had 63 PAs in 38 games with a 40 wRC+ and got sent back to As, where he was above average in AAA for the rest of the year. In 2017, he had a 164 wRC+ for the Diamondbacks AA team, and then they released him in the middle of the season for the Astros to pick up, where he had a good 85 PAs for the AAA team. It's worth pointing out that this guy had a 23 BB% for the Brewers, along with a 35% K rate. But he had a .021 ISO and .160 BABIP. I don't know, kind of surprised this guy hasn't got more chances. He at least deserved to play in fucking AAA last year for more than 85 PAs.
Notable draftees - Jon Gray (#389), Brandon Drury (#404), Ryan O'Rourke (#405)
Gray was drafted by the Royals out of high school, but did not sign.
#439 - Cesar Aguilar
I just don't think the Cardinals were all that impressed with this high schooler. He took two years to get out of Gulf Coast League where his numbers were below average by peripherals. He made it to Johnson City and pitched 28 decent but unspectacular innings in relief. That was the last time he pitched in the minors.
Notable Draftees - Nick Tepesch (#436)
#469 - Geoffrey Klein
A catcher out of Santa Clara, I'm going to guess this guy did not have the greatest defensive reputation. He had 30 games of 133 wRC+ at Batavia after being drafted to finish out the 2010 season. In 2011, he had a 113 wRC+ at Quad Cities in only 53 games played. He earned a promotion to Palm Beach for the 2012 season, where he was slightly below average in 385 PAs. Going into 2013, he was a 25-year-old who hadn't made AA yet, so I'm guessing the Cardinals released him after 35 bad PAs repeating at Palm Beach and he was never seen again.
Notable Draftees - Michael Bolsinger (#451), Chase Whitley (#475)
I'm stopping here, because as you may have noticed, this post is rather long and I still have 35 rounds to go. I will get the rest of the draft into one more post though, because Rounds 40-50 just aren't that interesting. Part Two to come soon