The MLB draft may be the most unpredictable amateur draft in all of professional sports. It's common to look at the top draft selections from past years and see guys who never made it to the big leagues, and in that same draft, have multiple guys drafted in the 4th round or later who become future All-Stars. It's part of the reason a team like the St. Louis Cardinals can be one of the most successful teams at drafting, even though they never get a top pick.
We won't know exactly where the Cardinals are picking until after the draft lottery this offseason, but it's almost a guarantee that they'll be picking in the top 10 for the first time since 1998. While this season has been frustrating for a number of reasons, and the club needs to be focused on getting back into contention in 2024, next year's draft could help the Cardinals get back on track for years to come.
Players the Cardinals have drafted since 2015 have accumulated the second-most WAR amongst all teams in baseball, despite never drafting higher than 18th in any draft during that time. The Astros, the only team that has accumulated more, had two top-five picks in 2015 and drafted both Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker with those selections. Randy Flores and his excellent scouting team will now be in the position to draft the highest-regarded players in the 2024 draft, and if their track record tells us anything, they'll likely make a great pick there.
The Cardinals need pitching badly. They must add that this offseason through free agency and trades. The continued development of prospects like Tink Hence, Tekoah Roby, Gordon Graceffo, and Cooper Hjerpe will help a ton as well. But we aren't talking enough about how the 2024 MLB Draft could shape their future rotation as well.
In recent drafts, more and more pitching prospects are getting to the Major Leagues and making an impact quickly. Look at some of the arms already in the Major Leagues that have been drafted in the first round lately.
2018 - Grayson Rodriguez, Logan Gilbert, Shane McClanahan
2019 - Nick Lodolo, Alek Manoah, Zack Thompson, George Kirby
2020 - Reid Detmers, Bobby Miller
If the Cardinals draft a pitcher in the first round in 2024, it's highly unlikely they will be a significant contributor in 2025, but they could be a major factor for St. Louis in 2026 or beyond. Ultimately, drafting the best player available will matter more than positional fit for the Cardinals, but there are some really intriguing arms in this draft that I could easily see them picking at this rate.
The 2024 MLB Draft is a long way away, and the scouting reports on all of these guys can change between now and then. But as things currently stand, I like what kinds of arms are at the top of the 2024 class for the Cardinals.