photo: Yadier Molina (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)
The foundation of the St. Louis Cardinals’ four World Series appearances this century came from their drafts.
With the addition of Albert Pujols in the 1999 draft, the St. Louis Cardinals had the first cornerstone piece in what became one of the most successful runs in the Major League Baseball history. No National League team won more games, appeared in more postseasons, had more consecutive League Championship appearances nor participated in more World Series between 2000 and 2020. Only two teams have won more Commissioner’s Trophies than the Redbirds since the turn of the century.
Yadier Molina joined the Cardinals organization as their fourth-round pick to begin the 2000’s. The mainstay behind the plate has been a part of all four St. Louis World Series appearances since 2004.
Selected 72nd overall in the 2001 draft, Dan Haren arrived in time to pitch in the 2004 World Series. Utility man and a fan favorite Skip Schumaker was selected in 2001’s round five and spent eight seasons in a St. Louis uniform. He appeared in all seven games of the 2011 World Series.
Kyle McClellan, a St. Louis native, joined the Cardinals organization in 2002. His most successful season was 2011 when he was both a starter in place of the injured Adam Wainwright and then a reliever starting in August after the Cardinals acquired starter Edwin Jackson. In that latter role, McClellan logged more innings than any reliever in baseball while allowing just one run and helping the Cardinals into the postseason. A result of his career high in innings pitched, arm fatigue caused him to be left off the Divisional and World Series rosters.
In 2003, 11 of the Cardinals 47 picks made it to the majors -although not all with the hometown team. Chesterfield, Mo native Max Scherzer (currently one of MLB’s top pitchers) and Ian Kennedy were both selected by St. Louis but went on to college and were eventually drafted again by another organization. An anomaly also took place in 2003 as the Cardinals signed their first 10 picks with six making it to the big time, including three wearing the Birds on the Bat. Perhaps the most notable pick of 2003 was Iona College catcher Jason Motte in the 19th round. Later, Motte converted to pitching and he delivered a 42 save effort in 2012.
After an off year in 2004, the Cardinals added a stable of players in Colby Rasmus, Tyler Greene, Nick Stavinoha, Mitchell Boggs and Jaime Garcia in the 2005 draft.
A year later, right-handers Adam Ottavino and Chris Perez joined the mix along with Shane Robinson, John Jay, Allen Craig and high schooler Tommy Pham.
The final three years of the opening decade of the 2000’s marked the addition of pitchers Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal. Add to that group Pete Kozma, Daniel Descalso, Matt Adams and Matt Carpenter, and the Cardinals built a foundation of players who provided key contributions in the success of the next decade of St. Louis baseball.
With that base in place, Cardinals scouts continued to deliver. They expanded and enhanced the franchise’s success over the next five years beginning with second baseman Kolten Wong in 2011. Over the next four years, the arms of Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Jake Woodford and Jordan Hicks were added while the bats of Stephen Piscotty, Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong have all been integral to St. Louis’ continuing legacy.
Although not every player mentioned has had the same level of success at the major league level in the hometown uniform, the Cardinals have found ways to ways to bring out the best in each. They continue to grow a farm system that delivers time and again to a faithful following that knows when the Cardinals say, “Next man up,” it is going to be someone with talent and promise.
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