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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ST. LOUIS, MO – SEPTEMBER 1: Andy Van Slyke of the St. Louis Cardinals tracks down a ball during a game in September 1983 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by St. Louis Cardinals, LLC/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO – SEPTEMBER 1: Andy Van Slyke of the St. Louis Cardinals tracks down a ball during a game in September 1983 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by St. Louis Cardinals, LLC/Getty Images) /

1975 MLB draft

Top pick: David Johnson, LHP (N/A)

(Round 1, Pick 16)

David Johnson had an ERA of 3.93 in Double-A, his highest point in the minor leagues. He was traded to the Houston Astros’ farm system in 1981, where he concluded his career that year after pitching six innings and surrendering seven runs.

WAR leader: Al Olmsted, LHP (0.8)

(Round 13, Pick 304)

A September promotion, Al Olmsted came on strong, pitching 9.1 shutout innings in his first major league appearance in 1980. He would pitch in only four more games after that and was traded to the San Diego Padres after the season. A few months after that, the Padres returned him to the Cardinals in the Ozzie Smith deal, and Olmsted played for Triple-A Louisville for a year before retiring.

Other signed draftees who made the major leagues

Andy Replogle, RHP (0.7); Jim Lentine, OF (0.3); Kelly Paris, 3B/1B/2B (-1.0); Mike Ramsey, 2B/SS/3B (-1.3)

1976 MLB draft

Top pick/WAR leader: Leon Durham, 1B/OF (16.3)

(Round 1, Pick 15)

Leon Durham debuted with the Cardinals and hit .271 but was traded after his rookie year in 1980 to the Chicago Cubs in a deal bringing Bruce Sutter to St. Louis. The two-time All-Star had his best year in 1982, hitting .312 with 22 home runs and winning the Silver Slugger Award. The Cubs traded him to the Cincinnati Reds in 1988, but he missed much of that season while in drug rehabilitation treatment. The Cardinals signed Durham as a free agent in 1989, but a drug suspension caused him to miss much of that season, his final year, as well.

Other signed draftees who made the major leagues

Ray Searage, LHP (4.6); Gene Roof, OF (0.5); John Littlefield, RHP (-0.1)

1977 MLB draft

Top pick/WAR leader: Terry Kennedy, C (21.6)

(Round 1, Pick 6)

Stuck backing up Ted Simmons during his years with the Cardinals, Terry Kennedy flourished with the San Diego Padres when he was released from Simmons’ shadow. He was an All-Star in his first season with San Diego in 1981, hitting .301, and the following year, he was second in the National League with 42 doubles, making him the first catcher to hit 40 doubles in a season. In 1983, Kennedy won the NL Silver Slugger Award for catchers.

Kennedy was never elite defensively, which was a concern for Padres manager Dick Williams. Kennedy was shipped to the Baltimore Orioles before the 1989 season, where he had one more All-Star year. He retired in 1991.

Other signed draftees who made the major leagues

Jim Gott, RHP (10.5); Andy Rincon, RHP (2.0); Joe DeSa, 1B/OF (0.0); Neil Fiala, 2B (0.0); Jeff Doyle, 2B (-0.3)

1978 MLB draft

Top pick: Bob Hicks, OF (N/A)

(Round 1, Pick 15)

Bob Hicks had trouble achieving anything above A-ball, as he hit only .191 in his brief sniff of Double-A in 1983 with the Texas Rangers organization. He was out of the league a year later.

WAR leader: George Bjorkman, C (0.3)

(Round 4, Pick 93)

George Bjorkman was the only player the Cardinals drafted in 1978 to make it to the major leagues. The San Francisco Giants took him in the 1980 Rule 5 draft, but they returned him to the Cardinals, who traded him three years later to the Houston Astros, where he saw his one year of major league experience. Bjorkman hit .227 in 75 at-bats with the Astros in 1983 and retired in 1985 after time with Houston’s and Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliates.

Other signed draftees who made the major leagues

N/A

1979 MLB draft

Top pick/WAR leader: Andy Van Slyke, OF/1B/3B (41.3)

(Round 1, Pick 6)

While he never lived up to Cardinals fans’ hopes of being the next Willie McGee, Andy Van Slyke nonetheless enjoyed a respectable career. However, most of his success came with the Pittsburgh Pirates after being the main prize in the Tony Pena deal. In Pittsburgh, he was a three-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger and five-time Gold Glover. He led the major leagues in triples with 15 in 1988 and topped the senior circuit in hits and doubles in 1992. He won all five of his Gold Gloves in consecutive years, from 1988 to 1992. Van Slyke retired after 1995 and later worked on staff for the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners.

Other signed draftees who made the major leagues

Mark Salas, C (2.0); Tom Dozier, RHP (-0.2); Terry Clark, RHP (-0.3)

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