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The three biggest Cardinals draft busts in the last decade

MiLB: JUN 24 Memphis Redbirds at Indianapolis Indians

The MLB Draft is coming up next week. All fans, myself included, struggle with thinking the prospect their team drafts is going to become a future star. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that as it seems like more picks wind up being busts instead of stars. For every three Jordan Walker and Nolan Arenado’s it seems like there are three first rounders who never even make it to the show. As a result, the Cardinals have their fair share of busts, three of whom we will discuss below.

1. SS - Delvin Perez - 2016 - Round 1 pick 23

Highest level - AAA - Cardinals in 2022

Current team and level - New York Yankees - AA

Before being drafted there was a lot of promise around Delvin Perez. There were rumors his potential four plus tool ability was going to get him selected as high as the top 5 picks in the 2016 draft. But a failed PED test ended that possibility and saw him slip all the way to 23 for the Cardinals. At the time of the selection, it seemed like a pick that could wind up being the steal of the first round as he was ranked 9th on MLBPipeline’s top 100 prospects. Perez though never found his footings in the minors. After his debut season he never hit above .270, had one year with five or more homers and he didn’t draw nearly enough walks. Perez currently is in the Yankees organization but he’s hitting just .154 on the season.

2. OF - Nick Plummer - 2015 - Round 1 pick 23

Highest level - MLB - Mets in 2022

Current team and level - Free agent

Plummer did make it to the bigs, but I still have to consider him a bust. After struggling since being drafted, 2021 looked like a potential breakout season for him as he hit .280 with 15 homers and 13 stolen bases across AA and AAA in the Cards organization. That was his last season with them though as he elected free agency that offseason and signed with the Mets. He took a massive step back with his OPS dropping from .894 in 2021 to .708 in 2022, but it was still enough to get called up to the Mets that season where he hit .194 in 29 at bats. He became a free agent again last offseason before signing with the Reds in February who then released him a month later.

3. RHP - Griffin Roberts - 2018 - Round 1 pick 43

Highest level - AA - Cardinals in 2022

Current team and level - Free agent

Injuries and bad luck seemed to stunt Roberts development as he lost his 2020 season due to Covid-19 and then was only able to pitch in 1 ⅓ innings in 2021 as he missed the majority of the season due to injury. In 2022, he suffered from more of the same luck as he was placed on the injured list in early April and was not activated until July. When he did play last season, he struggled mightily across three levels pitching to a 9.25 ERA with a 1.89 WHIP and 26 walks to 37 strikeouts in 24 ⅓ innings. As things stand Roberts is a free agent and with his injury history and struggles in 2022 it would be a bit surprising to see him signed by another team.