Are the Cards cursed when it comes to developing top prospects…

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  • #205761
    stlcard25
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    …or are they poor at the big league development end, or something else?

    I was thinking about this recently and had a little time to dig a bit. Here’s a list of the Cards in the MLB.com top 100 since 2011 (well, top 50 for 2011, not sure why it didn’t show the top 100). I believe this may be end of season lists? I’m not sure. But it gives a good picture.

    Top 100 By Year

    2022

    6 Walker
    51 Winn
    79 Graceffo
    80 Liberatore
    88 Burleson
    91 Hence

    2021

    24 Gorman
    46 Liberatore
    56 Walker

    2020

    14 Carlson
    43 Gorman
    52 Liberatore

    2019

    33 Reyes
    55 Liberatore
    61 Gorman

    2018

    18 Reyes
    38 Flaherty
    46 Kelly
    94 O’Neill

    2017

    6 Reyes
    36 O’Neill
    39 Kelly
    91 Perez

    2016

    13 Reyes
    80 Flaherty

    2015

    None

    2014

    3 Taveras
    58 Wong
    98 Piscotty

    2013

    3 Taveras
    25 Miller
    33 Cmart
    43 Rosenthal
    79 Wong
    83 Wacha

    2012

    5 Miller
    30 Cmart

    2011

    20 Miller

    So that’s 37 instances by 20 different players. And that doesn’t include a handful of guys that I recall being ranked by prospect raters at different times by other services, including Matt Adams, Andrew Knizner, Sandy Alcantara, Randal Grichuk, Harrison Bader, Luke Weaver, Magneuris Sierra, Marco Gonzales, Tyrell Jenkins, etc.

    I realize that rating prospects is a tough thing to do, but in all that time, is there anyone outside the current crop that other teams would really covet as an MLB star, even if you had the foresight to gaze upon their entire career in advance? You could argue maybe Cmart from 2015-18, or Flaherty for a year or two. Otherwise, the Cards have gotten “solid contributor” as the multi year ceiling from their TOP prospects for the last at least 12 years. Wong, Wacha, Piscotty, and O’Neill have been in that category, I’d say.

    In fact, some of the guys who left (Alcantara and Gonzales, maybe Kelly) have probably been some of the better of the bunch. There have been a number of duds there too.

    Anyway, the question is…what’s the reason behind the mediocre (at best) results in producing star talent from the farm for the last decade plus?

    Should we put an extra question mark beside the ceiling of the current group, as exciting as it may seem?? I think it would be fair to do so, given the track record. It also may give us a little more boldness in making a push for a star this off season. We will see.

    Thoughts?

    #205763
    Brian Walton
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    The only way one could say the Cards have been “mediocre (at best)” would be to compare their results to other organizations that also typically draft around no. 20. I am the first to admit I know very little about the other 29 systems – not nearly enough to make that comparison. Many top 100 prospects don’t become stars – from every organization, I bet.

    One of the downsides of competing for the playoffs every year (like the Cardinals do), is never getting to draft in the top 10 (and almost never in the top 15 and only rarely in the top 20).

    #205765
    bccran
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    Agree 100% with Brian. The bottom half of the 1st round will probably get you a solid future major league player, but normally not a star. If you look at that list, most of them have had some success at the major league level.

    #205766
    stlcard25
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    I realize these teams are sort of the gold standard of development, but here’s the top 5 by year for some other teams:

    Dodgers

    2019-A Verdugo, K Ruiz, D May, G Lux, T Gonsolin
    2018-W Buehler, A Verdugo, K Ruiz, M White, Y Diaz
    2017-C Bellinger, Yadier Alverez, A Verdugo, W Calhoun, W Buehler
    2016-C Seager, J Urias, J De Leon, G Holmes, F Montas
    2015-C Seager, J Urias, J Pederson, G Holmes, A Verdugo

    Yankees

    2019-E Florial, J Losoiaga, A Abreu, D Garcia, C Schmidt
    2018-G Torres, E Florial, J Sheffield, M Andujar, A Abreu
    2017-G Torres, J Frazier, B Rutherford, A Judge, J Mateo
    2016-J Mateo, A Judge, G Sanchez, K Kaprielian, W Garcia
    2015-L Severino, A Judge, J Mateo, G Bird, R Refsnyder

    Astros

    2019-F Whitley, K Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, J James, C Martin
    2018-F Whitley, K Tucker, J Bukauskas, Yordan Alvarez, F Nova
    2017-F Martes, K Tucker, D Paulino, D Fisher, F Whitley
    2016-A Bregman, A Reed, F Martes, K Tucker, D Cameron
    2015-C Correa, M Appel, D Santana, V Velasquez, M Feliz

    Braves

    2019-M Soroka, K Weight, I Anderson, C Pache, A Riley
    2018-R Acuna, K Wright, M Soroka, L Gohara, I Anderson
    2017-D Swanson, O Albies, K Maitan, K Allard, M Soroka
    2016-D Swanson, S Newcombe, O Albies, A Blair, K Allard
    2015-J Peraza, M Folty, C Bethancourt, L Sims, M Fried

    Indians

    2019-T McKenzie, N Jones, T Freeman, B Naylor, G Valera
    2018-F Mejia, T McKenzie, B Bradley, N Jones, W Castro
    2017-B Zimmer, F Mejia, T McKenzie, B Bradley, B Aiken
    2016-B Zimmer, J Frazier, B Bradley, B Aiken, J Sheffield
    2015-F Lindor, J Frazier, B Zimmer, G Urshela, T Naquin

    Obviously no one is perfect, but every one of those teams has produced one, usually at least two and sometimes three or more legit stars from their top prospects over that 5 year span. Many of them used their top prospects to acquire other stars.

    The Cards have done ok at acquiring talent via trades, but haven’t developed a home grown (read: cheap) star in ages. That absolutely has to change. One of Walker, Winn, Gorman, Hence, Graceffo, etc needs to become a top 20 player in MLB or the Cards will be stuck in the same cycle of trading for just past prime talent and hoping to squeeze a couple more great years out of them. So far it has yielded no wins in the pennant series in 8 full years. Hard to see that changing without a hit on some top talent.

    #205767
    Brian Walton
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    Some of those orgs may be good comps, but not the Astros. They tanked from 2011-2014. Correa was the first pick overall in 2012. Bregman was second pick overall in 2015, etc…

    The Indians’ one star is Lindor, taken eighth overall in 2012. Again, the Cards never pick that early.

    A future star the Cards did miss on (as did everyone else) was the Yankees’ Judge, taken 32nd overall in 2013. Another miss was Buehler, the 24th overall pick by the Dodgers in 2015.

    I’ve seen studies in the past that look at total WAR developed by farm systems and the Cards typically come out very well. However, that can be spread across any number of players. Instead, I understand the focus here is on “stars”, however that is defined.

    #205768
    stlcard25
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    Picking a random top 100 list in that span, say 2018 where the Cards had four top 100 guys. Any of these guys sound like they’d help?

    1 Ohtani
    2 Acuna
    3 Guerrero Jr
    8 Tatis Jr
    10 Kopech
    13 Buehler
    14 Bichette
    17 Tucker
    22 Adams
    24 McKenzie
    26 Sanchez
    28 Robert
    29 Soto
    30 K Wright
    34 Verdugo
    36 Urias
    37 JP Crawford
    40 Quantrill
    41 McMahon
    50 Morejon
    51 I Anderson
    61 Cease
    69 Burnes
    70 K Lewis
    72 J Mateo
    82 Winker
    83 Fried
    84 Mahle
    96 Woodruff
    97 Riley

    Of course there are misses in this list too…and some of the Cards would fit into that list. Yet, if we are being fair there are probably over a dozen players there who we’d take over any player on our list until 2022. The draft position accounts for some disparity, but the Cards aren’t the only team that’s been stuck with that “handicap.” Maybe the Cards simply aim at lower ceiling types and it’s been bad luck that none of the high ceiling guys have made it big?

    #205769
    1toughdominican
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    Water’s wet, dogs bark, and of course the Cardinals are cursed…What bothers me most is that Johnny won’t persuade his boss to free up the funds necessary to retain the services of a top of the rotation shaman to mitigate the ill effects of this never ending scourge. Until he does, expect trouble…

    #205771
    1toughdominican
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    stlcard25…That’s an impressive list, but I wouldn’t take any 3 of those guys over Albert Pujols…Make it 4.

    #205772
    stlcard25
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    I’ve seen studies in the past that look at total WAR developed by farm systems and the Cards typically come out very well. However, that can be spread across any number of players. Instead, I understand the focus here is on “stars”, however that is defined.

    I agree that the Cards do well overall. I’m not suggesting that they are a badly run organization. I’m simply curious as to why they have not been able to develop any home grown star (I’d call that multi year, All Star/5+ WAR) talent lately? It seems like the top prospects have not produced, pretty much across the board.

    I don’t think it can be denied that the inability to do so has led them to have to use extra resources (trades, money) to acquire things that other teams on their level have managed to do. Is it luck of the cycle? I don’t know. I don’t think it can all be chalked up to draft position or money.

    #205773
    stlcard25
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    stlcard25…That’s an impressive list, but I wouldn’t take any 3 of those guys over Albert Pujols…Make it 4.

    Well, Pujols might have made the pre 2001 list…and he’s a special case of course. I would maintain that the Cards have developed a false sense of how to build a World Series winning team solely because of his presence from 2001-2011. Since they lost the ability of the greatest right handed hitter of all time to bail them out of games and series, they’ve not exactly torn the post season up (yes, I know they were successful in 2012-14 to some degree, thanks to shrewd spending with the money they saved on him leaving).

    I know the WAR totals say what they may, but he was worth a lot more in value on the field, and a lot more $$ than the Cards paid him in that time. Holliday, Berkman and Beltran were very solid for a time and you added Carp to that, but they’ve been chasing the MV3 feeling ever since the days of Pujols (who was really like two great players in one), Edmonds and Rolen.

    #205775
    1toughdominican
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    stlcard25…I’d say it’s luck of the cycle and the odds are about the same as winning the Irish lottery. Other than Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, I can only come up with Hernandez, Simmons, Carlton, Gibson and McCarver who were multi year AS’s who were drafted and developed in the Cardinal system. Five of those guys are HOF’ers and four of them were cast off via trades.

    #205776
    1toughdominican
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    I know this is off topic, but is anyone else bummed out that game 3 is a washout tonight? I took a late afternoon nap and then had a cup or two of coffee to perk up for the game before I noticed it’d been postponed. Now, I’ll be bouncing off the walls until 2 a.m….Haha!

    #205778
    1toughdominican
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    stlcard25…I took the easy out by mentioning Pujols. The fact is, he’s a one in a million shot. Make it 5 million…

    #205780
    bicyclemike
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    These games stretching in to late October and early November risk a lot of postponements.

    As for developing prospects, there is so much uncertainty in the process that teams could be considered “cursed”, or better termed unlucky, or maybe the odds have not gone their way. There is so much randomness in the system – determining who will succeed and who won’t is what, a 50/50 chance in the first couple of rounds? There will always find teams that have gone awhile without producing a top tier player. Especially once you get past around number 10. But even in the top 10 it is tough.

    Wasn’t Grichuk chosen ahead of Trout? I recall back in the day the Reds chose Bernie Carbo as their first pick, then Johnny Bench as their second.

    When you look at rosters around the league, it seems the Cardinals are pretty good in having star players drafted by them.

    #205781
    1toughdominican
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    BikeMike…I’d be curious to know how many draft choices out of a thousand even make an appearance at the Big League level? As for a top-tier player, I’d have to say that the odds are up there in the stratosphere. But yeah, there’s most definitely some sort of curse that’s having an awful effect on the Cardinals. IF positioning sometimes has something to do with it…

    #205787
    Euro Dandy
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    There’s no such thing as a “can’t miss” prospect. Prospects don’t excite me until I see them perform at MLB level — Peter Principle and all. Too many variables.

    I became a skeptic of prospect hyping way back in the 70s, just a few years after I started following the Cards, when the ballyhooed David Clyde was drafted overall #1 by the Rangers. I was amazed at all the press coverage on Clyde and thought this guy must be tremendous. He was the “next Koufax”, “phenom”, “sensation”, etc. Many scouts said he was “the best pitching prospect I’ve ever seen.” His #1 status was as consensus as it gets. When he signed with the Rangers, Clyde said his goal was to be the best pitcher ever. He pitched his last high school game in 1973, then 20 days later started his first major league game. By 1976, the Rangers gave up on him and left him unprotected in the expansion draft. Nobody drafted him. Clyde is not an anomaly. Most don’t make it.

    #205788
    Euro Dandy
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    I’d be curious to know how many draft choices out of a thousand even make an appearance at the Big League level?

    1td, it’s close to 2/3 for 1st round picks. However, that includes guys like Nick Plummer, Tyrell Jenkins and Rob Kaminsky, guys who barely scratched. 2nd round picks go down to slightly below 50%. When you get down to the double digit rounds, it’s about 1 in 10 and continues to go lower as you get deeper in the draft.

    #205789
    Bob Reed
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    “Other than Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, I can only come up with Hernandez, Simmons, Carlton, Gibson and McCarver who were multi-year AS’s who were drafted and developed in the Cardinal system.”

    Top of my head, there’s also Dan Haren, Matt Carpenter, Sandy Alcantara, Lance Lynn, and Carlos Martinez. (Fellow old-timers may recall that Haren is one of the few pitchers to start the All-Star game for both the N.L. and Junior Circuit.) There’s probably a couple more, but I’m too lazy to do the research right now.

    Anyway the premise of the thread, the general lament re recent Cardinal top prospects, is not unfair exactly. But it’s incomplete I think. Because so many NON-elite Redbird prospects, i.e., never on anybody’s top 100 list, have excelled over the past decade or so, providing star-level contributions for a year or two or more. I’m thinking of the aforementioned Lynn & Carpenter, as well as Zac Gallen, Harry Bader, Paul DeJong, and Tommys Pham and Edman. I guess you could throw in Aledmys Diaz’ rookie campaign as well.

    At any rate, the Cardinal farm has been very productive over the past decade and figures to continue that way — though I gotta say the most recent Redbird draft was extremely frustrating, fixating as it did on a very narrow draftee demographic. Best Player Available…or Best Collegiate Left-Handed Starting Pitcher Available? Which seems like the better strategy, fellow fans?

    #205790
    blingboy
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    When you are observing and evaluation the potential of youngsters, mostly in the 18-21 age range, a lot of them are pretty similar. Attributes have to be quantified to be input into the analytics system so the algorithms can crunch the numbers. This tool is a 55, that one is a 50, etc. There is a lot of hair splitting. But I think intangibles are what differentiate a potential star from a solid contributor, and how do you quantify that so that it can be input into the system? And how does the algo factor it in?

    My guess is we produce contributors because that is what the system is able to identify with the input fed into it.

    #205795
    stlcard25
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    There’s no such thing as a “can’t miss” prospect. Prospects don’t excite me until I see them perform at MLB level — Peter Principle and all. Too many variables.

    I agree. What I’m curious about is why the Cards have missed on nearly every top prospect for a dozen years. It’s those guys who, primarily, make up the upper echelon of MLB players. I realize that they’ve gotten greater than “expected” value out of a number of guys, but it’s extremely tough to win today without a home grown star or two. Making 1 win expectations become 2 or 3 wins is useful, but making 4 win expectations become 7 or 8 wins is a lot more useful.

    #205796
    stlcard25
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    Anyway the premise of the thread, the general lament re recent Cardinal top prospects, is not unfair exactly. But it’s incomplete I think. Because so many NON-elite Redbird prospects, i.e., never on anybody’s top 100 list, have excelled over the past decade or so, providing star-level contributions for a year or two or more. I’m thinking of the aforementioned Lynn & Carpenter, as well as Zac Gallen, Harry Bader, Paul DeJong, and Tommys Pham and Edman. I guess you could throw in Aledmys Diaz’ rookie campaign as well.

    Bob, I am in agreement that St Louis has done a great job identifying the sort of under the radar talent that has All Star potential for a year or two. Sort of the 40 grade tools, 55-60 results approach. That has a lot of value in today’s game. My concern is that the guys with the tools to be consistent stars are not panning out, or if they do, it’s for another team. Guys with 55-60 tools (or greater) sometimes turn into 70+ players. That’s something we’ve not had in a long time here.

    My point is…we need one of Walker, Winn, Carlson, Gorman, etc to become that guy or it’s going to get really tough to compete here soon. It’s not exactly predictable, but it’s really needed.

    #205799
    Brian Walton
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    stlcard25 said:

    I don’t think it can all be chalked up to draft position or money.

    On the money point, look at your random top 100. The best four players right on top were all big bucks international signees, as are multiple others on the list. That isn’t an area the Cards typically enter – and the capped international bonuses over the past few years have changed that dynamic.

    #205802
    KylMss
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    I think a couple things go into this. One, stars are just difficult to find in baseball. So much development has to happen after they are acquired. College players that have star potential rarely last long in the draft and the high school guys or international signs are too young to really gauge their potential. Mike Trout was selected 25th overall and he’s been the best player the game has seen in like 30 years. deGrom was selected in the 9th round. Goldschmidt was selected in the 8th. Arenado in the 2nd. There is just a randomness to how players develop.

    The other factor I will throw out there is the competing interests between competing for titles and developing talent. There is a reason why doing both at the same time rarely works. Young players need time and opportunities to develop, which means a team is going to have some potential holes in the roster while a kid figures out the level. It is extremely rare to find a guy like Pujols or Julio Rodriguez who can just enter the big leagues and start contributing immediately with few low points. Most guys need time and patience to work through new challenges and many times that can mean a string of losses.

    In the Cardinals case, I think they end up developing some pretty good players up into Triple A and then they sort of get stuck because they have nowhere left to go. Nolan Gorman is a prime example. He had nothing left to really prove at Triple A this season, but he also wasn’t hitting well enough to play on a team that was trying to win the division. So, he ends up either on the bench in St. Louis or toiling away in Memphis. Ultimately, nothing productive can really be done with him and his development kind of stalls. You look at guys like Goldschmidt and Arenado, they both played on some bad teams and had nothing but time and opportunity to work through their issues as young players. I think most guys function that way and that’s where you find the stars who are stuck on bad teams.

    #205805
    stlcard25
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    On the money point, look at your random top 100. The best four players right on top were all big bucks international signees, as are multiple others on the list. That isn’t an area the Cards typically enter – and the capped international bonuses over the past few years have changed that dynamic.

    I get that. I’d also say that they were runner up for Robert, and Tatis Jr seemed like he was the Cards’ if they had wanted him. I wonder if the bets on upside since Flores came along have been related to the understanding that they’re typically oversafe on the international market?

    #205806
    bccran
    Participant

    Cards have had a history of drafting for pitching, and trading that pitching for high end position players as necessary.
    Holliday, Ozuna, Goldy, Arenado, etc. They finally have some high end position players in the queue internally –
    Gorman, Yepez, Burleson, Walker, Winn, Gomez, Baez, Cho, etc. Let’s hope at least some of them reach their full potential.

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