St. Louis Cardinals history: The 10 worst first-round picks in the 21st century

The Cardinals have found some pristine talent in the first round of some drafts. but they've also had some duds.
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1. Nick Plummer: 23rd pick in the 2015 MLB draft

Our final player, how excited was Cardinal Nation when St. Louis took Plummer back in 2015? He had the potential of being a guy that could hit for average and power, with an ability to steal bases and draw walks, which is why the Cardinals gave him a signing bonus of over 2 million dollars. So what went wrong?

It started okay considering in year one, slashing .228/.379.344 in 51 games for the Cardinals Gulf Coast League team at 18 years old, but he missed the entire 2016 season after undergoing hand surgery. When Plummer got back to full health, he struggled with consistency at the plate. In his two seasons at Peoria (2017-2018), he had a .202/.351/.316 slash line with just 12 home runs and 47 RBI, and he struck out in almost a third of his at-bats in 196 total games. It carried over in 2019 in Palm Beach hitting .177 with a 35.4% K rate in 96 games.

The minor league baseball season was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic which took away another full year from Plummer and his development, his second lost season at just 23 years old. Fortunately for him, 2021 was his breakout year. We finally saw the player that we thought the Cardinals drafted, a guy who could hit for average and power while still getting on base. He became the second Springfield player ever to have a 3-homer game ( Nolan Gorman was the first) which included a walk-off home run, and he broke Springfield's record for most consecutive games reaching base. This success led to Plummer getting called up to Memphis to end the 2021 season, but after the year the Cardinals decided not to put Plummer on the 40-man roster, so he elected for free agency.

After his Cardinals tenure ended, Plummer did make the Major Leagues for 14 games with the Mets in 2022, and he is now a free agent. It wasn't all Plummer's fault by any stretch, dealing with a season-ending injury and losing an entire year for COVID surely affected his development, but ultimately he just didn't hit enough in the Cardinals farm system which led to him never getting called up to St. Louis


When we have shown who the Cardinals have missed out on on some of these busts, but in this case it was literally the next pick. After the Cardinals took Plummer 23rd overall, the Dodgers selected Walker Buehler 24th overall. They also passed on Taylor Ward (26th pick), Mike Soroka (28th pick), Ke'Bryan Hayes (32nd pick), and Ryan Mountcastle (36th pick). Despite this disappointing first pick, 2015 has been a successful draft for St.Louis. They selected Jake Woodford with their competitive balance first-round pick, and they drafted Harrison Bader, Jordan Hicks, Paul DeJong, and Ryan Helsley in the first 4 rounds.

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