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.
St. Louis Cardinals Photo Day
St. Louis Cardinals Photo Day / Benjamin Rusnak/GettyImages
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6. Shortstop Delvin Perez: 23rd pick in the 2016 MLB draft

Perez seemed to have stardom in his future when he was drafted by St.Louis in '16, but he never came close to those big expectations. What hurt Perez right off the bat was he was a controversial pick, as he was coming off a positive test for Performance Enhancing Drugs. The whole situation was difficult for all parties involved. But it definitely was the reason why he fell to 23rd in the draft, he was projected to go in the top 10 until he was caught juicing. What everybody thinks about players taking steroids and what the MLB has done to try to increase punishments for those that do, seeing a player drafted in the first round immediately after taking steroids, was seen as polarizing around baseball.

The hitting part of Perez's game took some time to develop, as he barely stayed above the Mendoza Line in his first professional season bouncing between the Appalachian and Coast leagues. He was an All-Star for Peoria in 2019 when he hit .262 and stole 22 bases, but after just hitting one home run, Perez looked to bulk up and add some weight to see if that led to improvements at the plate. In 2021 Perez saw slight improvements to his numbers, but it wasn't drastic. After the 2022 season, the Cardinals seemed to realize that with shortstop Masyn Winn making a rapid rise through the system, there would not be a spot for Perez with the big club any time soon, he was not re-signed.

The Cardinals knew that Perez was a high-risk, high-reward pick, and they never got the reward. But the '16 draft class looks bleak, to say the least, it looks like this season, Dodgers catcher Will Smith will be the first of the 1st round picks in 2016 to make an All-Star team. But the Cardinals thought they were getting a steal, they were wrong. His career is not quite over yet, Perez is now in the Yankees system and he is only 24 years old, there is still a chance he could make it to the big leagues someday.