Evaluating the St. Louis Cardinals’ draft classes (1965-1984)

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ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 1: Ted Simmons of the St. Louis Cardinals appeals to the first base umpire for a call during a game of the 1974 season at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by St. Louis Cardinals, LLC/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 1: Ted Simmons of the St. Louis Cardinals appeals to the first base umpire for a call during a game of the 1974 season at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by St. Louis Cardinals, LLC/Getty Images) /
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MILWAUKEE, WI – OCTOBER 1982: Keith Hernandez of the St. Louis Cardinals stands in the batter’s box during a game of the 1982 World Series at Country Stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Cardinals went on to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers four games to three. (Photo by St. Louis Cardinals, LLC/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI – OCTOBER 1982: Keith Hernandez of the St. Louis Cardinals stands in the batter’s box during a game of the 1982 World Series at Country Stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Cardinals went on to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers four games to three. (Photo by St. Louis Cardinals, LLC/Getty Images) /

1970 MLB draft

Top pick: Jim Browning, RHP (N/A)

(Round 1, Pick 11)

Jim Browning spent six seasons in the minor leagues, peaking at Double-A in 1972-1973 with the Philadelphia Phillies organization. He had a career 3.64 ERA and retired after 1975.

WAR leader: John Denny, RHP (32.2)

(Round 29, Pick 679)

John Denny won 51 games in five seasons with the Cardinals He enjoyed his best Cardinals season in 1976, when he led the National League with a 2.52 ERA but went only 11-9 because of poor run support. The Cardinals traded him to the Cleveland Indians after 1979 in the Bobby Bonds deal. Denny’s strongest year was 1983 with the Phillies, where he won the National League Cy Young Award with a 2.37 ERA and a league-high 19 games won. Injuries befell him later in his career, and he retired after an 11-win year with the Cincinnati Reds in 1986.

Other signed draftees who made the major leagues

Bake McBride, OF (22.6); Marc Hill, C (2.3); Greg Terlecky, RHP (0.1); Don Durham, RHP (-0.9)

1971 MLB draft

Top pick: Ed Kurpiel, 1B/OF (N/A)

(Round 1, Pick 8)

Ed Kurpiel never appeared in a major league game, although he was called up briefly in 1974. He played in Triple-A for five years, his last two with the New York Mets organization, hitting .252 with 100 home runs. He played the last two years of his career in Mexico.

WAR leader: Keith Hernandez, 1B (60.3)

(Round 42, Pick 785)

One of the greatest defensive first basemen of all time, Keith Hernandez, an 11-time Gold Glover, became a very good hitter in 1979, leading the major leagues with a .344 average and sharing the National League MVP Award with Willie Stargell. After a career Cardinals average of .299 from 1974 to 1983, Hernandez was traded to the New York Mets because of squabbles with management, much of which involved cocaine use.

He continued to perform very well with New York and played a large part in their 1986 World Series championship, hitting .310 that year. While slightly more productive with the Cardinals than the Mets, Hernandez is more closely affiliated with the latter team, likely in part because of the cocaine controversy and his unceremonious exit from St. Louis. Hernandez is currently a TV broadcaster for the Mets.

Other signed draftees who made the major leagues

Jerry Mumphrey, OF (22.3); Larry Herndon, OF (15.2); Jim Dwyer, OF/1B (6.0)

1972 MLB draft

Top pick: Dan Larson, RHP (-0.8)

(Round 1, Pick 21)

The Cardinals traded Dan Larson to the Houston Astros two years after drafting him, while he was still in the minor leagues. Larson’s first year with Houston, in 1976, saw him go 5-8 with a 3.02 ERA. After a subpar 1977 season where he struggled to a 5.81 ERA, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies and bounced between the majors and minors for the rest of his career, ending in 1982.

WAR leader: Mike Proly, RHP (8.6)

(Round 9, Pick 213)

Mike Proly had a 3.71 ERA in 17 innings out of the bullpen with the Cardinals in his rookie year of 1976. The Minnesota Twins took him from the Cardinals in the 1976 Rule 5 draft, and he was a serviceable relief pitcher for most of his career, with an ERA of 3.23 between the Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs.

Other signed draftees who made the major leagues

N/A

1973 MLB draft

Top pick: Joe Edelen, RHP (-0.9)

(Round 1, Pick 12)

Joe Edelen pitched in the minor leagues from 1975 to 1981 and had very little success when he reached the major leagues, surrendering 18 runs in 17.1 innings for the Cardinals. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in September and finished the season well there, giving up only 1 run in 12.2 innings, but his issues returned in 1982 with an 8.80 ERA, and he was out of baseball shortly after.

WAR leader: Eric Rasmussen, RHP (5.0)

(Round 32, Pick 676)

Eric Rasmussen threw a shutout in his major league debut with the Cardinals in 1975 and had his best year in 1977, with an ERA of 3.48 but an 11-17 record. He was traded to the San Diego Padres for George Hendrick in 1978 and pitched mostly out of the bullpen.

Later in his career, Rasmussen pitched in the Mexican League and an independent league and returned to the Cardinals in 1983, but the Cardinals found little use for him. Rasmussen retired in 1987 and now works as a minor league pitching coordinator for the Minnesota Twins.

Other signed draftees who made the major leagues

Randy Wiles, LHP (-0.2); John Tamargo, C (-0.3)

1974 MLB draft

Top pick/WAR leader: Garry Templeton, SS (27.8)

(Round 1, Pick 13)

Probably best known in Cardinals circles as the main player traded to the San Diego Padres for Ozzie Smith, Templeton was nevertheless a solid contributor for the Cardinals in his six years with St. Louis. He hit .305 during his tenure and made the All-Star team twice. In 1979, he collected 100 hits from both sides of the plate, the first switch-hitter to earn this distinction. His defense was a mixed bag, as he often finished at or near the top of the league in errors, but his range factor showed him to be elite.

Templeton’s threat to sit out the season if he were not given a raise and an incident in 1981 where he flipped off the home fans led to a strained relationship between him and the fanbase, and Templeton was traded after the 1981 season. For the rest of his career, Templeton battled knee injuries and underwent seven operations on one of his knees, but he did make another All-Star appearance with San Diego in 1985. Thirty years later, he was inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame. Templeton managed several minor league and independent league teams from 1998 to 2011.

Other signed draftees who made the major leagues

Bill Caudill, RHP (11.1)

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