St. Louis Cardinals: Finding Value In The MLB Draft

Nov 8, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak during the MLB general managers meeting at the Omni Scottsdale Resort. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 8, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak during the MLB general managers meeting at the Omni Scottsdale Resort. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

This is punishment day for the St. Louis Cardinals. This is where the draft picks will be taken away because of “Hackgate.”

The punishment will not be felt, if felt at all, for a few years. The nature of baseball is that a draftee will take a few years to develop into a Major League contributor.  So while the St. Louis Cardinals will not be active today, giving up their top two picks in the draft may hurt in years to come.

Lucky for the Redbirds, they have built up a good farm system that has the potential to cover up this punishment by itself.  This year, the St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers have been impressive enough to have four players in MLB Pipelines top-100 prospects.

To build this type of success the front office has had to be very smart with their picks. Here you can see who I ranked as the top pick for each year since 2010.

With the draft coming up, teams are going to try and find value in every round throughout the draft.  So let’s see who some of the best value St. Louis Cardinals have taken in the past few years of the MLB June Amateur Draft.

Carson Kelly

Kelly was selected in the second round (86th overall) of the 2012 draft.

It is a hard sell to say that a second round pick has a ton of value as far as a sleeper.  Kelly is one who can sell it.  He is currently the top catcher prospect in the league, and should see some Major League time very soon due to his .301 batting average in triple-A Memphis.

The value of Kelly is the fact that he changed positions and became as potentially good as he did.  He was drafted as a third baseman, but the organization decided to move him to catcher with the understanding he would need time to learn the position.

It is not hard to just pick up the catcher position, especially at a professional level.  But Kelly has done it and become known for his glove.  That is where the second-rounder has proven to be very valuable for the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

Matt Carpenter

Carpenter was selected in the thirteenth round (399th overall) of the 2009 draft.

It is great to get a pick after the tenth round that can be a solid bat in the lineup night-in and night-out.  But to get a cornerstone, top of the lineup bat is something great.  Carpenter has proven to be a great hitter and a versatile fielder.

In 2016, the Cardinals moved him between second and third to fill whichever defensive need was required that night.  Then, in the offseason, he was told he would play first base.  He has also moved around the lineup quite a bit too.  Despite that, he has a .280 batting average and three All-Star appearances in six full seasons.

The kind of consistency through uncertainty from a thirteenth-round pick is one that will be considered a very valuable pick for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Trevor Rosenthal

Rosenthal was selected in the 21st round (639th overall) in the 2009 draft.

The young fireballer has played a huge role in four postseasons since breaking into the Big Leagues in 2012.  He also has collected 113 saves for the St. Louis Cardinals.  He was the closer until injury forced him out of the position.

To find a player who develops into a 100+ MPH fastball in the late rounds is like finding a needle in the haystack.  Especially with how valuable a live fastball is in today’s game.  He is a semi-reliable arm in the bullpen and he seems to be getting better every year.

As a power pitcher, it is hard to talk about anything but his fastball when defining his value.  And that fastball in the 21st round is something to be proud of.

Albert Pujols

Pujols was drafted in the 13th (402 overall) round of the 1999 draft.

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I know 1999 probably can’t count in the “past few years” but it is impossible not to mention a player considered one of the biggest draft steals in history.  Pujols is the most recent member to the 600-homerun club.

He helped the St. Louis Cardinals win two World Series championships.  Pujols had twelve straight seasons of thirty homers, 100 RBIs, and fewer than 100 strikeouts on the season.  He holds that feat with only one other player in baseball history, The Great Bambino himself Babe Ruth.

The kind of production Pujols has consistently produced for St. Louis and Los Angeles is simply unheard of.  In my opinion, Albert Pujols is the single-most valuable pick in MLB Draft history.

2017 Draft

Without the benefit of their top two picks, there is more pressure on the St. Louis Cardinals front office to find picks with value for the future.  It is certainly not impossible by any means, and the team has proven the ability to do it.

Next: The Cardinal Way Is Failing Its Players

So sit back, relax, and see what kind of talent falls to the St. Louis Cardinals in this draft despite the “Hackgate” sanctions.  The future starts today.