How to Avoid Committing a Cardinal Sin on Draft Day

draft 2013

When it comes to drafting players at the annual MLB Amateur Draft, it’s no surprise that some teams are better at drafting than others. For some teams Draft Day can be a HUGE success. The ability to stockpile prospects in the minors in the hopes of contending in the future, or perhaps flip some of that youthful talent for a “missing piece” that may help your team contend today. For others, Draft Day can be just another step in the “right” direction, or if you’re the Padres or Astros, just another Draft Day disappointment.

For annual cellar dwellers like the Padres and Astros, the Draft can be the lone bright spot of an otherwise dismal season. It’s a bad teams chance to stockpile young, upcoming talent in the hopes that they will contribute to your team’s success further on down the road. Unfortunately for fans of these teams, their teams Draft day blunders and busts have set them back years in development and potential contention. The Padres have easily been the poster boys for how NOT to approach a draft. Their track record in the First round since 2000 speaks for itself:

Draft Year • Draft Slot • Player Selected • GP For Padres • Highest Level Played • Where Are They Now? • Player(s) They Missed Out On

2000 • 9th • Mark Phillips • LHP • 0 • High A • Out of Baseball • Chase Utley (15th)

2001 • 14th • Jake Gautreau • 3B • 0 • AAA • Out of Baseball • David Wright (38th)

2002 • 13th • Khalil Greene • SS • 659 • MLB • Out of Baseball • Nick Swisher (16th), Cole Hamels (17th)

2003 • 4th • Tim Stauffer • RHP • 104 • MLB • Injured • Nick Markakis (7th), Aaron Hill (13th)

2004 • 1st • Matt Bush • SS • 0 • AA • Out of Baseball/ Jail • Justin Verlander (2nd) or Jered Weaver (12th)

2005 • 18th • Cesar Carillo • RHP • 3 • MLB • Suspended (PED) • Jacoby Ellsbury (23rd)

2006 • 17th • Matt Antonelli • 3B • 21 • MLB • Minors with Indians • Kyle Drabek (18th)

2007 • 23rd • Nick Schmidt • LHP • 0 • AA • Minors with Rockies • Rick Porcello (27th) or Ben Revere (28th)

2008 • 23rd • Allan Dykstra • 1B • 0 • AA • Minors with Mets • Lance Lynn (39th) or Wade Miley (43rd)

2009 • 3rd • Donovan Tate • OF • 0 • High A • Baseball Sabbatical • Mike Minor (7th), Shelby Miller (19th), or Mike Trout

2010 • 9th • Karsten Whitson • RHP • 0 • Never Signed • College/Injured • Yasmani Grandal (12th) or Chris Sale (13th)

2011 • 10th • Cory Spangenberg • 2B • 0 • High A • Minors • NA

Not pretty at all. Of those twelve names, only four have made it to the Major Leagues with the Padres. Sadder still is the fact that of those four players, only two (Khalil Greene and Tim Stauffer) have made any kind of significant impact on the Padres, and even that is a stretch. Khalil Greene is sadly the best draft pick of the lot. Although Greene only played five full seasons for the Friars, he is still the all-time Padres leader in HR’s as a SS with 84 and was the runner up for Rookie of the Year honours in 2004. Greene was an exciting defensive SS, who was no slouch at the dish. His best season offensive season was in 2007 when he hit .245/27/97. Sadly Greene would suffer from a Social Anxiety Disorder that would ultimately force him to retire from the game.

Tim Stauffer has logged over 450+ innings as a pitcher in the MLB; all with the San Diego Padres. His career record stands at 23-31 with a 3.93 ERA in 104 games. Although he is not a “classic” bust case, his record and performance are hardly what you would expect out of someone drafted 4th overall. Although the only other notable pitchers drafted in 2003 worth mentioning are Paul Maholm (8th) and Chad Billingsley (24th)… so maybe the Stauffer selection isn’t that terrible.

matt-bush The biggest disappointment to date has to be Matt Bush. Bush was infamously drafted 1st overall ahead of Old Dominion RHP Justin Verlander, and is hands down the biggest draft bust in MLB history. Verlander on the other hand is the furthest thing there is from a bust. He won the Rookie of the Year in 2006, as well as the Cy Young an AL MVP in 2011, and is regarded as (ARGUABLY) the best starting pitcher in the game today. Bush was a local kid who played SS for Mission Bay H.S in San Diego; he was also an above average pitcher who could hit the mid 90’s. The Padres drafted him solely because they could afford him. Bush was actually the Padres third choice in the draft behind Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver. However, the Padres did not want to give in to Weaver and Drew’s agent (Scott Boras) contract demand; hence the selection of Bush. Matt Bush would gain more publicity for his off field antics, than he would for his actual play. Before his career even started, he was served a suspension stemming from a bar fight in Arizona.

Through six seasons as a hitter, Bush hit for a career .219/3/70. During spring training in 2006 he broke his ankle and missed half a season. In 2007 with his offensive numbers going down the drain, Bush made the decision to convert to a pitcher. His fastball was capable of hitting 98 mph, and he had prior experience as a pitcher. Unfortunately he would blow out his UCL after a promising start in Rookie League; he would miss half of 2007 and all of 2008 rehabbing from Tommy John.

Injuries were not the cause for Bush becoming a bust, the issue was Bush himself. As mentioned above he was suspended before even playing in 2004. He was arrested again in 2009 after assaulting a high school student with a golf club while exclaiming “I’m Matt F****** Bush!!” all of which was caught on videotape. Even after the Padres designated him for assignment in 2009, and he was traded to the Blue Jays for cash considerations; his legal troubles still continued. The Blue Jays had given Bush a “Zero Tolerance” policy stemming from his past legal history. Not even two month later the Jays would release Bush following ANOTHER incident at a party where Bush allegedly threw a ball at a woman’s head, and banged on her car windows, after she had apparently drawn on his face.

Following a 2009 season with no baseball, Bush managed to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010 as a pitcher. Matt would have success in the Tampa organization, even making it to AAA Durham in 2011. He was slated to start 2012 with the Durham Bulls, but instead decided to receive a DUI after running over a 72 year old man during Spring Training. Bush decided that it was best to leave the scene following the accident and ended up at a strip club, which he later was removed from.

Bush was arrested and charged with DUI causing bodily harm, driving with a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident with an injury, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident where property was damaged; he’s also a suspect in two other hit and runs. Bush accepted a plea bargain in December 2012, and was sentenced to 51 months in jail. His expected release date is May 25th, 2016.

Now if the Padres are an example of how you shouldn’t draft, than the Cardinals are a prime example on how a team should draft. Of the current 25 players on the Cardinals active roster, 17 of them have been drafted and developed by the Cardinals organization. That list includes:

Player • Position Played • Draft Year • Round Drafted • MLB Debut

Yadier Molina • C • 2000 • 4th (113th overall) • June 3rd, 2004

Jon Jay • OF • 2006 • 2nd (74th overall) • April 26, 2010

Shane Robinson • OF • 2006 • 5th (166th overall) • May 7th, 2009

Allen Craig • SS • 2006 • 8th (256th overall) • April 8th, 2010

Pete Kozma • SS • 2007 • 1st (18th overall) • May 18th, 2011

Daniel Descalso • IF • 2007 • 3rd (112th overall) • Sept. 18th, 2010

Tony Cruz • C • 2007 • 26th (802nd overall) • May 24th, 2011

Lance Lynn • SP • 2008 • 1st (39th overall) • June 2nd, 2011

Shelby Miller • SP • 2009 • 1st (19th overall) • Sept. 5th, 2012

Joe Kelly • SP • 2009 • 3rd (98th overall) • June 10th, 2012

Matt Carpenter • 3B/IF • 2009 • 13th (399th overall) • June 4th, 2011

Trevor Rosenthal • P • 2009 • 21st (639th overall) • July 18th, 2012

Matt Adams • 1B/OF • 2009 • 23rd (699th overall) • May 20th, 2012

Keith Butler • P • 2009 • 24th (729th overall) • June 1st, 2013

Tyler Lyons • P • 2010 • 9th (289th overall) • May 22nd, 2012

Seth Maness • P • 2011 • 11th (350th overall) • May 3rd, 2013

Michael Wacha • SP • 2012 • 1st (19th overall) • May 30th, 2013

Not too shabby at all. The Cardinals have been one of, if not, the best teams as far as how they approach drafting and developing young players. The Cardinals minor league system is one of the best in baseball, as they are constantly producing Major League ready talent on a yearly basis. Cardinals’ fans have no need to worry if a player goes down with an injury, or if and when a potential free agent may fly the coop. The reason for that is their strong minor league system, and player development.

At the start of the 2013 season it was revealed that Chris Carpenter’s career may be over with (another) major shoulder injury. Factor in the free agent loss of Kyle Lohse, and the uncertainty of Jamie Garica’s left arm, and the Cardinals were in tough situation when it came to their starting rotation. The Cardinals weren’t too worried though as they had a collection of high impact arms to choose from. The Cardinals looked at Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, and Carlos Martinez to help them with the starting pitching load. Of those four, only Miller, Kelly, and Rosenthal had made their major league debuts, but had only pitched in a relief role out of the bullpen. The innings they worked were critical in helping lead the Cardinals back to October baseball. Rosenthal had the best fastball, but Miller and Kelly were the most polished of the three, and therefore had the best chance of winning the 5th rotation spot.

Throughout spring training both Kelly and Miller received multiple starts, with Miller eventually winning the final rotation spot. To say that Miller has done a sufficient job would be an understatement. Going into today he owns a 6-3 record to go along with a 1.82 ERA and 72 K’s in 69 innings pitched. He has been an absolute stud on the mound! His best performance to date came against the Rockies where he threw a one-hit, complete game shutout; fanning 13 batters along the way.

Just because Miller has been lights out as a starter, does not mean that the others have been disappointments. Trevor Rosenthal has been one of the best 8th inning guys in the league this year with 15 holds to date, to go along with 1.86 ERA, and 42 K’s in 29 innings pitched. Joe Kelley made his MLB starters debut on June 5th, 2013 against the Diamondbacks. Kelly pitched well through 5 innings, only giving up an earned run on four hits.

The biggest surprise in the rotation this year may be 2012 first round pick Michael Wacha. Wacha was called up to take Jake Westbrooks spot in the rotation while he was on the DL. Wacha became the second player from the 2012 draft to make his debut following Kevin Gausman. In his debut against the Royals, Wacha would be perfect through 5 innings, eventually leaving following the 7th inning; he took a no decision and struck out 7. The Cardinals knew that Wacha was one of the more polished pitchers in the draft, but didn’t believe that he would slip to them in the 19th spot. They couldn’t have been happier when he did. Barring injuries, or Rick Ankielitis, Wacha projects as a front end starter in the major league rotation for a long time to come.

The Cardinals don’t even have to keep the players they draft in order for them to have an impact on the organization. One of the better examples was when they dealt former first round pick Colby Rasmus to the Blue Jays in 2011 for Mark Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, and Corey Patterson. Although Rasmus was once a highly touted prospect, he had fallen out of favour with the Cards organization and Tony LaRussa, and was made expendable by the immergence of Jon Jay. The Cardinals coveted bullpen and rotation help, and didn’t hesitate in pulling the trigger on a deal that brought them a surplus of arms. The former Blue Jays pitchers would prove to be crucial in helping the Cardinals get back into the post season, and win their first title since 2006.

This was nothing new for the Cardinals though. In 2009, they traded their former 1st round pick in the 2008 Draft, Brett Wallace, to the Oakland A’s in a package that landed them slugger Matt Holiday. Even last season the Cardinals were at it again when they shipped 2010 first round pick Zack Cox to the Marlins in exchange for Edward Mujica. Mujica was brought in for bullpen depth in, but has been an absolute revelation this year for the Cards since taking over the closers role. Mujica was given the opportunity following Jason Motte’s disabled trip with a shoulder injury, and Mitchell Boggs forgetting how to hit the broadside of a barn. Mujica currently has 17 saves for the Cardinals.

One of the best examples of how their farm system has paid off for them is how they went about replacing Albert Pujols. Pujols was drafted by the cards in the 13th round of the 1999 draft, and was the face of their franchise for the better part of a decade, not to mention the fact that he was the best player in baseball during that run. Pujols left the Cards following their 2011 World Series championship and signed a LUCRATIVE contract with the Angels to the tune of 10years/$240 million.You can’t just simply sign someone to fill Albert Pujols boots; it’s impossible.

Instead the Cards re-upped the oft-injured Lance Berkman for another season, and platooned him with Allen Craig, a player whom they had no natural position for. Berkman had performed more than admirably for the Cards in 2011; he would be named an NL All-Star going .301/31/94. However Berkman had played predominantly RF for the Cards and was now expected to shift to 1B to fill the void left by Pujols; Craig would play RF. Berkman would only play in 32 games for the Cardinals in 2012 before going down with an injury. Thankfully the Cardinals had Allen Craig just waiting in the wings and moved him to 1B from RF. In 2012, Allen Craig would play over 90 games at first base for the Cardinals and he would show them what his ultimate value was. Craig would hit .307/22/92 in 119 games for the Cardinals in 2012, and give them another cornerstone player to build around.

The only issue for the Cardinals now is trying to find an everyday spot for up and coming mash artist Matt Adams. Adams plays 1B and Corner OF, but the Cards have Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran, and Matt Holiday entrenched in those positions. Luckily the Cards are geniuses at getting players in the everyday lineup; just ask Matt Carpenter. Carpenter is another one of those super utilitymen that the Cardinals have at their disposal. Carpenter can play any infield positon, as well as both corner outfield positions. Im sure if they could… they would already have him training to catch behind Yadier Molina.

Even with the graduation of top prospects Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, and Michael Wacha, the Cardinals farm system is FAR from bare. In fact, the Cardinals still have plenty of high end talent still in the minors.

The best one of those prospects still on the farm is Oscar Taveras. Taveras is a 20 year old centerfielder who projects as a five tool player, and is regarded as one of the best prospects in the game today; he sits at #3 on mlb.com Top 100 Prospects of 2013. Taveras would already be up with the Cards if he was not road blocked by Jon Jay, Matt Holiday, and Carlos Beltran. There was speculation at near the start of the season that the Cardinals and Rangers may make a straight up, Jurrickson Profar for Oscar Taveras trade. The Rangers need a CF, and the Cardinals want a franchise SS; especially with the injury to Rafael Furcal and uncertainty of Pete Kozma. Although it was just baseball hearsay, you can’t deny that it would be a rare win/win for both teams involved.

The Cardinals also eagerly await the day that they can unleash Carlos Martinez on the MLB world. Maritinez has been dubbed “Little Pedro” because of his diminutive stature and his upper 90’s fastball, which he accompanies with a plus 12-6 curve, and budding circle change. Martinez is currently in the MLB with the Cardinals in the bullpen and has pitched well in a small sample size. The next positional player to get the call could be 2011 first round pick Kolten Wong. Wong jumped straight to AA after signing with the Cardinals. He is not the most patient hitter, but he doesn’t strikeout a ton either, he has extra base power, and hits the ball hard to all fields. Wong as a very reliable and solid defender at the 2B position, he also has slightly above average speed on the base paths. It’s only a matter of time, or an injury away, until Wong gets the call to Busch Field.

So with the MLB Amateur Player Draft commencing tonight at 6pm Eastern Time, one has to wonder how many of these young players are actually going to make it to the MLB and contribute to the team that drafted them? Just because you are drafting in the top 3 does not guarantee that you are going to walk away with a franchise player. Just because your team calls a player’s name does not mean that they will sign with that team (see. Beede, Tyler or Loux, Barrett). Sometimes taking the “sexy” pick ends up blowing up in your face, and you walk away with a compensation pick in the next year’s draft. With all the advanced scouting, and social media (twitter) it’s a lot easier to avoid potential “head cases” and players with “make up” issues before they get drafted. With that being said, I doubt that there will be any Matt Bush 2.0’s out there… but you never know when you’ll end up drafting a Ricky Romero over a Troy Tulowitzki, or wind up with Jeff Clement 2.0.

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