It is always exciting as a fan to see a player make his major league debut, regardless of the age of that player. But what makes it more impressive is seeing a player quickly rise through the minor league system, or skip the minor leagues entirely and get to the big leagues at such a young age.
Having young talent is as important as it has ever been in the history of baseball, and continuing to develop young players can either help a team stay relevant or help a team evaluate who they can build their franchise around to have long-term success.
Looking back at the history of the St. Louis Browns/Cardinals, there have been several players who debuted with the team while still in their teens. Some players were regulars, some were late-season call-ups, and a handful were seen as " emergency replacements " to play just for maybe a day or two before Minor League Baseball was created. In the early days of baseball, players would be signed from independent leagues and teams and there would be no other option than give them to another team or release them.
Thanks to Branch Rickey, major league teams were able to purchase minor league teams so that they could create their own minor league development systems. Rickey was with the Cardinals at the time, and his doing this allowed the Cardinals to have multiple lower-level teams for developing players so they could be ready to come to the big leagues when they were needed. This led to instant success for the Cardinals, as they won their first World Series championship shortly after purchasing minor league teams in 1926.
Before teams were buying minor league teams, and before the minor leagues were invented, it was common to see very young players play for Major League teams in the bright and early days of baseball. Here were the 5 youngest players who appeared for the then St.Louis Browns during the seasons spanning from 1882-1899.