10. Stephen Piscotty (OF)
The second of the two compensation picks the Cardinals received from the Los Angeles Angels for Albert Pujols, Stephen Piscotty had an advanced sense of the strike zone and looked to be a good bet to pan out as a high-average gap hitter. After a full season at Triple-A Memphis in 2014 where he hit .288, Piscotty received a promotion in 2015 and hit the ground running, batting .305 for the Cardinals. He spent the entire 2016 season with St. Louis, hitting .273 with 22 home runs.
Before the 2017 season, Piscotty signed a six-year extension with the Cardinals but didn’t have the same success, hitting .232 and spending much of the year in the minor leagues to get him straightened out.
In December of 2017, the Cardinals traded Piscotty to the Oakland Athletics in a gesture of goodwill after he requested to be closer to his mother, who had Lou Gehrig’s disease. The Cardinals received Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock in exchange. Piscotty’s first season in Oakland was decent, as he hit .267, but it was downhill from there, as his major league average regressed every year since, bottoming out at .190 in 2022. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds in August but became a free agent after the season.
9. Carson Kelly (C)
Long considered to be the heir apparent to Yadier Molina, Carson Kelly likely didn’t expect Molina to play for another eight years after Kelly was converted to a catcher in 2014. He had a strong, accurate arm that nailed 36% of attempted basestealers in 2015 with High-A Palm Beach, but his bat didn’t come around until 2016 in Double-A, where he hit .287. He flourished even more in Memphis, hitting .292, and he joined the Cardinals briefly near the end of the season.
Kelly was aggressive to a fault early in his career, but his eye at the plate improved as he climbed the ladder. The Cardinals traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the blockbuster Paul Goldschmidt deal in December 2018 to release him from the shackles of the bench behind Molina. There, he hit .245 with 18 home runs in his first extended major league action, tying Miguel Montero for most home runs by a Diamondbacks catcher in a season.
The abridged 2020 season saw Kelly hit .221, but he rebounded the next year to hit .240. His 2022 was a step back, as he hit only .211 with seven home runs.
8. Tyrell Jenkins (RHP)
Tyrell Jenkins turned down the opportunity to play quarterback at Baylor University so he could pursue a baseball career. Shoulder woes in his first three minor league seasons limited him to less than 85 innings in his first three seasons, and in 2013 he finally had surgery to repair his latissimus muscle. He had command issues and fringy secondary pitches for much of his career, but he broke out in 2015 after being traded to the Atlanta Braves with Shelby Miller for Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden.
Jenkins’ 3.00 ERA in Double-A brought about a promotion, and in 2016, Jenkins pitched 83.2 innings to a 2.47 ERA. The Braves promoted him to the majors that year, but he scuffled and lost his improved control, walking 33 batters in 52 innings.
The Braves traded him to the Texas Rangers after the 2016 season, and he later played in the San Diego Padres system but was released in July 2017 after a 7.76 ERA in 82.1 innings.
7. Matt Adams (1B)
Another late draft pick who made it to the major leagues, Matt Adams was a 23rd-round pick out of Slippery Rock University in 2009 who was noted for his light-tower power. He hit .300 or better at every level before receiving his major league promotion in 2012. Adams became the Cardinals’ everyday first baseman in 2014, a year where he hit .288 with 15 home runs. He missed much of 2015 because of an injury, and he returned in 2016 to hit .249.
The Cardinals traded Adams to the Atlanta Braves early in the 2017 season for Juan Yepez. With the Braves in 2017, Adams hit .271, and the Washington Nationals signed him in December. The Cardinals reacquired Adams from waivers for the 2018 stretch run, but he only hit .158.
Washington, Atlanta and the Colorado Rockies were Adams’ last stops on the major league trail, with whom he hit a collective .215, before he signed with the American Association’s Kansas City Monarchs in April 2022.
6. Michael Wacha (RHP)
Michael Wacha made a beeline to the major leagues, reaching the top level in 2013 less than a year after being drafted. His first season saw him weave a 2.78 ERA, with the highlight being 8.2 no-hit innings against the Washington Nationals on Sept. 24. He was the NLCS MVP that year, pitching 13.2 scoreless innings.
A stress reaction in his scapula limited Wacha to 19 starts and kept him off the playoff roster until he appeared in Game 5 of the NLCS, when Wacha was called upon in a head-scratching move from manager Mike Matheny. He surrendered a series-losing walk-off home run to Travis Ishikawa of the San Francisco Giants.
In 2015, Wacha made the All-Star team and finished the season with 17 wins and a 3.38 ERA. He couldn’t replicate that in 2016, as his ERA inflated to 5.09 and health became an issue again. His final three years with St. Louis saw him accumulate a 4.13 ERA, and he signed with the New York Mets in 2020, struggling to a 6.62 ERA. After another tepid showing with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021, Wacha had his best season since 2018, going 11-2 with the Boston Red Sox and owning a 3.32 ERA.