Mo's Cardinals Drafts

Dustin Mattison looks back at the St. Louis Cardinals' 2003 and 2004 draft classes, led by their new general manager, John Mozeliak.

The St. Louis Cardinals recently named John Mozeliak as the twelfth General Manager in the team's history. Through the years, Mozeliak has filled a variety of roles for the Cardinals, such as heading up the draft in 2003 and 2004.


Jeff Luhnow is now leading the Cardinals' drafts, but we will review the last two drafts under Mozeliak.   With the Cardinals rededication to the farm system and player development, a look at those two could be educational as well as entertaining. 


2003 - What Might Have Been


This draft had the potential to really change the course of a farm system that has struggled mightily to develop pitching. The Cardinals were unable to come to terms with prep right-handers and future first rounders, Ian Kennedy, Brett Sinkbeil, and Max Scherzer. This draft though has produced some depth and two players that have held the distinction as the top prospect in the system.  But with the loss of three prep pitchers, this draft is more likely to be looked at as what might have been. 


The Cardinals were thought to have over drafted high school catcher Daric Barton. Many industry insiders thought he would still be available in the second round, but the Cardinals' scouts loved his left-handed bat and didn't want to take any chances. Barton quickly established himself as the best hitting prospect in the system but he was moved out from behind the plate and tried as an outfielder. 


The Cardinals then traded him along with Dan Haren and Kiko Calero in December of 2004 for Mark Mulder. Barton has gone on to establish himself as one of the better prospects in all of baseball and he will have a chance to make the A's as their starting first baseman in 2008.


Second round pick Stuart Pomeranz was also drafted out of high school and struggled in his first taste of professional baseball. He quickly paid dividends for the Cardinals though, with a 12-4 record in his first full professional season at low Class A Peoria in 2004. 


Pomeranz was moving steadily through the system until a shoulder problem sidelined him for most of 2007. Pomeranz has since bounced back with an impressive performance early on in the Arizona Fall League. He could definitely contribute as a mid to back of the rotation starter or a steady middle reliever.


Skipping ahead to the 15th round, the Cardinals took a chance on an oft-injured pitcher out of the University of Southern California, Anthony Reyes. A late sign, Reyes did not see his first professional action until 2004 and found himself in St. Louis in 2005. Reyes had established himself as the top prospect in a thin system and even though he has shown flashes of brilliance, he has had philosophy clashes with Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan. The jury is still out as to whether or not he will be back in 2008.


Dennis Dove was selected out of Georgia Southern in the third round. Dove's results never matched his overpowering fastball so the Cardinals converted him to the bullpen in 2006. The switch clicked and he found himself temporarily in St. Louis in 2007. He struggled in only three appearances and was shut down due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. If healthy, Dove should hopefully contribute in 2008. 


Seventh-round pick Brendan Ryan was one of the biggest surprises for the 2007 Cardinals. Called up due to an injury to shortstop David Eckstein, Ryan had played too well to send back down once Eckstein returned. Ryan has firmly established himself as a part of the Cardinals' future and could possibly go to spring training as the starting shortstop depending on the upcoming off-season.


19th round selection Jason Motte was a solid defensive, but questionable hitting catcher out of Iona College. Management held out hopes that he would eventually show some progress with his bat but when he did not, the Cardinals converted him to a relief pitcher in 2006. 


With a mid-nineties fastball, Motte has been fast-tracked through the system, appearing in 45 games for Double-A Springfield in 2007. Early results from the Arizona Fall League have been promising.  He should start the year at Triple-A Memphis.


As mentioned above, 14th round pick Ian Kennedy was unable to come to an agreement with the Cardinals and went on to star at Southern California and Team U.S.A. He is now in the Yankees system and made his New York debut in 2007 after being a first round pick in 2006.  He has a very good chance to be in the Yankees' starting rotation in 2008.  


38th round pick Brett Sinkbeil failed to come to terms and went on to be the highest drafted player in the history of the Missouri State baseball program. The Florida Marlins drafted Sinkbeil with the 19th overall pick and he pitched for high Class A Jupiter in 2007.


43rd round pick Max Scherzer was drafted out of Parkway Central High School in St. Louis. The local product went on to star at the University of Missouri and became the highest drafted player in that program's history, eleventh overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Scherzer did not sign until just before the 2007 draft but found himself in Double-A Mobile by the end of the season.


2004 - "Moneyball"


Widely panned throughout the industry, the Cardinals drafted almost entirely college players.  The team stuck with the "Moneyball" philosophy, selecting stat-heavy college players instead of high-upside high school talent.  The final count was 43 college players drafted compared to only four high school players.


Three and a half years later, this draft still makes most draftniks cringe.  The Cardinals' top selection never panned out and is with another organization.  75% of those drafted no longer are members of the Cardinals minor league system.  The organization can only hope for a possible utility infielder, a back of the rotation starter, and a few intriguing bullpen arms. 


Jarrett Hoffpauir, a sixth round selection, seems to be the only player drafted that has a chance of being an everyday player.  An afterthought for most of his professional career, Hoffpauir broke out in 2007.  Starting the year at Double-A Springfield, he was named a Texas League All-Star.  He was then promoted to Memphis where his numbers were not nearly as impressive but he did hold his own. 


The 24 year-old was rewarded for his excellent season with a trip to the Arizona Fall League.  Due to lack of depth in the middle infield, Hoffpauir could have a shot at the second base job for the Cardinals but he projects more as a utility infielder.   Think Aaron Miles with a little more pop. 


The Cardinals selected Chris Lambert of Boston College in the first round in 2004.  The Cardinals were enamored with his arm strength even though he was inexperienced as a pitcher.  The only high point during his tenure with the Cardinals was a 7-1 record at high Class A Palm Beach in 2005. 


He had a lot of trouble with command and the Cardinals moved him to the bullpen.  Lambert still struggled to find any consistency and was the player to be named later in the Mike Maroth trade with Detroit. 


Of the starters chosen, ninth-round pick Mike Parisi seems to be the only pitcher capable of helping the rotation and he is coming off a 13-loss season at Memphis.  The 24-year-old does possess a heavy sinker enabling him to induce quite a few ground outs, a big plus with the current regime. 


Second-round pick Mike Ferris was selected out of Miami, Ohio.  A pretty good defensive first baseman, Ferris has failed to hit with any consistency.  He made it to Triple-A Memphis due to need, not performance.  Unless there is a huge break out in his future, this is most likely where he caps out. 


Third-round selection Eric Haberer has struggled with command for most of his career.  The former Southern Illinois pitcher has started for most of his Minor League career but may better suited out of the bullpen.  The southpaw allowed only a .197 average against lefties in 2007. 


Twelfth round selection Mark Worrell and 21st round pick Mike Sillman are side-winding relievers who have had success in relief throughout their Minor League careers.  Worrell seems to have a little more upside and might pan out as a situational right-hander. 


The best that can be said about these two drafts are the results are mixed.  If the team could have come to terms with the three prep right-handers, this organization would be set with starting pitching for years to come.  Instead, this team is struggling to find options for its rotation. 


Let's hope that Mozeliak overseeing the entire organization in the future pays bigger dividends than these two drafts have provided.



Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at


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