30. Seth Blair (RHP)
The Cardinals took Seth Blair in the supplemental first round in 2010, but injuries and inconsistency derailed his career. From 2011 to 2014, he failed to record an ERA below 5 in levels ranging from Low-A to Triple-A. He was suspended before the Midwest League playoffs in 2011 and had lapses in his concentration when back on the mound, leading to problems with control and velocity. In 2012, it was revealed that Blair had a benign tumor in the knuckle of his right middle finger, leading to fractures and preventing him from pitching until July.
After 2014, Blair didn’t play for four years, but he gave it another go in 2019 and signed with the San Diego Padres, who assigned him to High-A. After COVID-19 wiped out the minor leagues’ 2020 season, the Boston Red Sox signed him and sent him to Double-A. There, he showed more success than at any other point in his career and received a promotion, but his issues returned after he signed with the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Blair is currently pitching for Aguilas de Mexicali in the Mexican Pacific Winter League.
29. Keith Butler (RHP)
A late-round draft pick out of Wabash Valley Junior College in 2009, Keith Butler rode a very good breaking ball to limit opponents to a .201 average in his first five years in the Cardinals’ system. His command was his bugaboo, as his 3.6 walk rate in the minors indicated before his 2013 promotion. It continued to hurt him in the majors, and he couldn’t record the strikeouts necessary to make up for it, as he had five walks and 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 16 games that year.
Butler received a quick cup of coffee with the Cardinals in 2014 but only appeared in two games. The Cardinals removed him from the roster on Nov. 18, 2014, and he never reached the majors again, finishing his career with an underwhelming 6.12 ERA at Memphis.
28. Mike O’Neill (OF)
Mike O’Neill was the quintessential contact hitter, one who put the ball in play seemingly every at-bat and got on base. But with no power to speak of — he hit only four home runs in his 1,834 minor league at-bats — O’Neill’s game was predicated on singles. In 2012, he led the minor leagues in on-base percentage and was second in batting average, and his batting eye was elite. His average speed stretched him at center field, but his complete lack of pop made him difficult to slot into a corner outfield role.
In 2014, O’Neill’s numbers plummeted. He struck out more often and walked less often than in previous years (although his walk totals still outnumbered his strikeouts), and he hit a career-low .269. He never found his previous on-base success again: In Triple-A in 2015, O’Neill hit only .257, and the Chicago Cubs picked him in the Rule 5 draft. They released him before the season in 2016, and he played for the independent league New Jersey Jackals. O’Neill tried to catch on with the Detroit Tigers before the 2017 season, but he was released before Spring Training began.
27. Maikel Cleto (RHP)
The fastball was what propelled Maikel Cleto through the minor leagues, but his inability to develop a strong second pitch doomed him to the fringes of the major leagues. The New York Mets signed him as an international free agent in 2006, who traded him to the Seattle Mariners in 2008 in a three-team trade. The Mariners flipped Cleto to the Cardinals a day later in exchange for Brendan Ryan.
Cleto debuted with the Cardinals in 2011, pitching 4.1 innings and allowing an unsightly six earned runs and walking four batters. His scorching heat, which touched 102 mph, accompanied a max-effort delivery that put him in the bullpen quickly. He made a couple more appearances with St. Louis in 2012 and 2013, but he never produced good results: His career Cardinals ERA was 10.34 in 15.2 innings. He fared slightly better when the Chicago White Sox claimed him off waivers, and he made a career-high 28 appearances in 2014 and pitched to a 4.60 ERA.
Cleto spend the next eight years pitching in the Mexican League, where he found more of a niche, with an ERA of 2.44 in 107 innings. He was released before the beginning of the 2022 season.
26. John Gast (LHP)
Originally selected by the Texas Rangers in the fifth round out of high school in 2007, John Gast decided to undergo Tommy John surgery and go to college. It ended up hurting him, as the Cardinals took him in the sixth round in 2010. He went 6-0 with a 1.54 ERA in High-A.
Gast had a strong changeup and an outstanding pickoff move that took him to the highest level when he debuted in the major leagues in 2013, but he only made it through two games before a shoulder injury that originally sidelined him in 2012 cost him the rest of 2013 and some of 2014 after he had surgery on a muscle that had detached.
Gast wasn’t able to rediscover his success when he returned from injury. His last fully healthy season had been in 2011, and his 5.03 ERA in Triple-A in 2015 led him to hang up the cleats in January 2016.