Drafted but Unsigned Cardinal: Dan Plesac

MLB Network commentator Dan Plesac did not sign after being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980.

In this article, we introduce the fourth of the top 10 players once drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, but signed elsewhere and performed well. The covered period runs from the start of the modern draft in 1965 through 1980.

The newest honoree is a man perhaps best known today as the MLB Network commentator with the zany endorsements of Boston’s Kung Fu Panda, Pablo Sandoval. Yet the reason Dan Plesac is on the television in the first place is his successful 18-year career with the Milwaukee Brewers and five other clubs from 1986 until 2003. During that period, the left-handed reliever amassed 17.2 bWAR.

Of course, the reason Plesac is appearing here is that he was first taken by the Cardinals, in the second round of the 1980 First-Year Player Draft, but did not sign with St. Louis.

The Indiana native spurned the Cardinals, instead becoming a Hall of Famer at North Carolina State. Following the 1983 season, he was Milwaukee’s first pick that June, 26th overall and signed with the Brewers.

A durable and effective reliever, Plesac reached the majors in 1986. Soon taking over as the Brewers’ closer, he earned American League All-Star berths in each of the next three seasons (1987-1989). In 1991-1992, the 6-foot-5, 215-pounder made the only 14 starts of his career – to go with 1,050 relief appearances.

By the time he left Milwaukee as a free agent following the 1992 season, Plesac had become the team’s all-time leader in games pitched (365), saves (133) and ERA (3.21), over a minimum of 500 innings pitched – records that remain today.

Plesac then bounced around to the Cubs, Pirates, Blue Jays and was a member of the 1999 National League West champion Arizona Diamondbacks – his only post-season action. After a return to Toronto, Plesac was dealt to Philadelphia, where he was the last Phillies pitcher to pitch at Veterans Stadium – as he closed out his 18-year MLB career in 2003.

Plesac's 1,064 games pitched rank sixth in baseball history and he amassed 158 career saves with a 3.64 lifetime ERA and 17.2 bWAR.

Stay tuned as the final six members of this team are named, in career bWAR order. For more details on the All-Drafted, but Unsigned Team, click here.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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