25. Tim Cooney (LHP)
Tim Cooney’s first major league appearance was in replacement of an injured Adam Wainwright. Unfortunately, Cooney was unable to craft the sort of legacy Wainwright has. A Cardinals third-round pick in 2012, Cooney rocketed up the minor league ladder thanks to injuries at higher levels, and he proved he belonged, owning an ERA of 3.47 in his first year at Triple-A and shaving it to 2.74 in his second go-around in 2015.
Cooney pitched part of 2015 and displayed strong control, his hallmark since his college days, but he missed the rest of the season after an appendectomy in July. The Cardinals hoped he could make the rotation in 2016, but a shoulder injury in Spring Training eventually led to surgery and a missed season. The Cleveland Indians claimed Cooney off waivers after the 2016 season, but injuries hit again and limited him to four Rookie league games. He was released in November 2017 and never caught on with another team.
24. Jorge Rondon (RHP)
A flamethrower in the mold of several other Cardinals prospects at this time, Rondon averaged 95 mph with his fastball in 2012. It was a slow rise through the system: He debuted with the Rookie league team in 2006 and reached Memphis in 2012 after seeming to figure something out that year. He had a 3.44 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 34 innings with Double-A Springfield and eventually served as the team’s closer.
Rondon only pitched in one game for the Cardinals, which was in 2014, going one inning and walking a batter. The Colorado Rockies claimed him off waivers on Nov. 3, 2014, and he was annihilated in two games with them; his nadir involved him giving up five hits and seven earned runs without recording an out in a game against the San Diego Padres.
Rondon proceeded to play for a few other teams, receiving scant major league time. After the Chicago White Sox released him, Rondon signed with Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball. He spent 2021 and 2022 in the Mexican League.
23. Seth Maness (RHP)
Seth Maness was a low-risk signing in the 11th round as a college senior. He boasted keen control, going 42 innings in High-A Palm Beach before walking a batter, and he led the minor leagues in 2012 with 0.5 walks per nine innings. The Cardinals were having issues with their bullpen to begin the 2013 season, and Maness received a promotion to the major leagues on April 29.
After respectable 2014 and 2015 seasons that saw Maness pitch 143.2 innings to a 3.51 ERA and walk only 24 batters, he underwent Tommy John surgery in mid-2016, and the Cardinals non-tendered him after the season. He signed with the Kansas City Royals before 2017 and spent most of the season in the minor leagues, where he had a bloated 6.13 ERA.
The Royals released Maness in May 2018, and he signed with the independent league High Point Rockers, with whom he only pitched in one game before the Texas Rangers purchased his contract and assigned him to Triple-A. He was named a league All-Star, but after becoming a free agent after the season, he retired. Maness is currently working as a coach at Florida State University.
22. Sam Freeman (LHP)
An athletic two-way player at North Central Texas Community College, Sam Freeman transferred to the University of Kansas in 2008 and became a full-time pitcher. The Cardinals took him in the 24th round in the 2007 draft, and he rose quickly, reaching Double-A in his first full season and holding his own with a 3.03 ERA.
After Tommy John surgery in 2010 that sidelined him for almost two years, Freeman debuted in the major leagues. Never a command artist, Freeman still managed to overpower hitters with his 95 mph fastball despite his diminutive 5-foot-11 stature. In 2014, he appeared in 44 games and had a 2.61 ERA. Before the 2015 season, the Cardinals traded him to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later.
Freeman’s best season was in 2017 with the Atlanta Braves, where his ERA was 2.55 in 60 innings and he had a career-low 4.1 walks per nine innings. He couldn’t replicate that success the next year, and he had stints with the Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals before pitching for the Kansas City Royals’ Triple-A organization in 2022 before his release in August.
21. Eric Fornatero (RHP)
2008 sixth-round pick Eric Fornatero was a bit old for a prospect when he jumped on the map at age 24, as his numbers in the minor league rotation were fairly pedestrian. When he was converted to the bullpen in 2012, he found more success, as a 2.39 ERA in 67.2 innings in 2012 illustrated. Fornatero was promoted to Memphis, where he had trouble in his first go-around but righted the ship in 2014 to earn a cup of coffee with the Cardinals.
Fornatero was a fireballer who could hit 99 mph and complemented that with a power curveball, but his eight games in the major leagues would prove to be his peak, as his stuff didn’t match up to hitters at the highest level, achieving only three strikeouts in 9.2 innings.
After his brief tenure with the big league club, the Washington Nationals claimed him off waivers, but his numbers never reached his minor league heights. He closed out his career in the Atlantic League in 2016.