Cardinals Drafts: The Ones That Got Away

A look at the picks the St. Louis Cardinals failed to sign after the 2006 and 2007 First-Year Player Drafts.

The St. Louis Cardinals continue to bolster their player development process via the amateur player draft. During the 2006 and 2007 drafts, the organization added talents such as Chris Perez and Clayton Mortensen. Both pitchers made quite an impression during spring training and saw action in big league games.

Here at The Birdhouse, we look a lot at the players in the Cardinals' system and how they are progressing up the minor league ladder. But here we will look at those draftees the Cardinals failed to sign.

The names are divided between the 2007 and 2006 drafts followed by the round in which the player was selected.

2007 Draft

Kyle Russell (4)

One of the most popular names on Cardinals-themed message boards all over the worldwide web last summer, the slugging outfielder decided not to take the Cardinals' offer (rumored to be around $900,000) to instead to try improve his draft status by returning to the University of Texas. So far that seems to have been the wrong choice. As of March 22, Russell is hitting only .236/.456/.345 with one home run in 18 games. Compare that with his 2007 totals of .336/.456/.807 and 28 home runs. Russell has struck out in 35% of his at bats.

Mike Stutes (9)

This pitcher priced himself out of the ninth round as he played a big part in the Oregon State Beavers' second College World Series title. Stutes was the winning pitcher in the title game against North Carolina. In 2008, he, along with the rest of the team, is really struggling. As of March 22, Stutes is 1-3 with a 6.12 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 25 innings.

Sam Freeman (24)

Drafted out of North Central Texas Community College, Freeman chose to transfer to the University of Kansas instead of signing with the Cardinals. Pitching out of the Jayhawk bullpen, Freeman is 3-0 with a 5.50 ERA. In his final season at North Central Texas, the lefty posted a record of 10-1 with a 3.20 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 50.2 innings.

C.J. Ziegler (37)

The first baseman chose to return to an Arizona Wildcats team that ranks as one of the nation's best. As of March 23, Ziegler is hitting .309/.429/.779 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs in 18 games.

Justin Dalles (40)

The catcher returned to St. Petersburg Junior College for his sophomore season. Dalles committed during the early signing period to play baseball for the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2009. He was also selected in the 15th round of the 2006 draft by the New York Mets.

Dan Thomas (44)

Thomas chose to return to the University of South Florida to improve his draft status after an injury ended his 2007 early. So far this season, Thomas has made three starts and posted an ERA of 2.81 in 16 innings. The 22-year-old has notched 22 strikeouts to go along with five walks.

Jason King (48)

Coming out of high school in Ohio, King was named that state's Player of the Year where he was also a power pitcher. For the Kansas State Wildcats, the freshman has appeared in 18 games, 12 of them starts. As of March 23, he is hitting .277/.345/.404 with a home run and 10 runs batted in.

Stephen McCray (50)

After being selected with the Cardinals' last pick, McCray chose to return to Young Harris Community College. As a two-way player, he has appeared in 26 games including 25 starts. As a pitcher, McCray has made nine starts posting a record of 6-2 with a 2.80 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 54 innings. As a hitter, he has posted a line of .259 with two home runs and 21 RBIs.

2006 Draft

Blair Erickson (10)

During the 2007 draft, Erickson was once again drafted in the 10th round, but this time he was selected by the Minnesota Twins. He finished his career as the all-time college saves leader but struggled with his command and lost his closer's role during his senior season. In his professional debut, Erickson logged 11 saves with a 1.53 ERA for Elizabethton of the Pioneer League. He notched 17 strikeouts in 17.2 innings while finishing with a WHIP below one.

Lance Zawadzki (15) (right)

After not being able to come to terms with the Cardinals, Zawadzki transferred from San Diego State to an NAIA school, Lee. The move paid off as the San Diego Padres selected him in the fourth round. Zawadzki got off to a hot start in the Arizona League, hitting .433/.485/.633 in ten games. He was then promoted to Eugene where he hit .267/.339/.386 in 25 games.

Brandon Cooney (20)

Cooney decided to run to Florida Atlantic instead of signing with the Cardinals. He should have signed as he fell to the Baltimore Orioles in the 30th round of the 2007 draft. For the Bluefield Orioles, Cooney posted a 4.58 ERA over 53 innings.

Roberto Gomez (24)

Gomez had sat out the 2006 season due to injuries but was still drafted by the Cardinals out of the University of Texas-Pan American. He played the 2007 season at Alvin Community College in Texas but was unselected in this past year's draft.

Ross Smith (32)

After a superb Georgia prep career, Smith chose to attend Auburn University over starting his professional career. As a freshman, Smith made 51 starts while posting a line of .288/.364/.397 with 11 stolen bases. The sophomore will miss the 2008 season due to a knee injury. Smith is scheduled to play for the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod League.

Adrian Alaniz (36)

Returning to the University of Texas paid off as Alaniz improved his draft status dramatically. The Washington Nationals selected the native Texan in the eighth round of the 2007 draft. During his final season at Texas, Alaniz was named a second-team All-American by multiple outlets. He paced Texas' pitching staff with a 12-3 record and a 2.59 ERA to earn Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and All-Big 12 First Team. During his professional debut, the polished collegian went 8-2 with a 2.39 ERA for Vermont in the New York-Penn League.

Tyler Mach (40)

Mach opted to return to the Oklahoma State Cowboys and enjoyed a tremendous season at Stillwater. Mach hit .386 with 16 home runs and 81 RBIs. He also led OSU in hits, doubles and total bases as well as RBIs. After his final season at OSU, he was a first-team All Big 12 selection as well as being named a second-team All-American by both the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the American Baseball Coaches Association. He earned third-team status from Louisville Slugger and Baseball America. The Philadelphia Phillies selected Mach in the fourth round and assigned him to Williamsport where he hit .287 with five home runs and 38 RBIs in 65 games. The's PhillyBaseball News ranked him as the number 20 prospect in the Phillies system.

Mitch Canham (41) (right)

Canham returned to Oregon State and led the Beavers to another College World Series Championship. The San Diego Padres selected Canham in the supplemental first round of the 2007 draft. The Padres assigned him to Eugene where he hit .293/.379/.397. rated him as the number 14 prospect in the Padres' system.

Gabe Torres (43)

The Cardinals picked Torres out of St. Peter's Prep in New Jersey with plans for him to attend junior college as a draft and follow. That didn't work out and Torres is now enrolled at Brookdale Community College in his home state.

Cameron Grant (44)

Selected out of high school in Virginia, Grant chose to stay at home and attend Lynchburg College. As of March 18, he was hitting .364/.457/.534 and has been successful on all seven of his stolen base attempts. During his freshman season, Grant hit .290 in 138 at bats.

John Goodman (45)

Goodman turned down the Cardinals to return to Georgia Tech. For the Ramblin' Wreck, he struggled, finishing with an ERA of 5.40 in only six appearances. After a history of elbow and shoulder problems, Goodman re-injured his shoulder in April and did not return to the mound.

Robert Woodard (46)

Woodard returned to North Carolina where he anchored the Tar Heel staff with a record of 11-2 with a 3.30 ERA. He finished his career at Carolina with a 34-5 record becoming the winningest pitcher in that school's history. Woodard went on to be drafted in the 20th round by the San Diego Padres in the 2007 draft. In his professional debut, Woodard went 3-2 with two saves and a 3.89 ERA over 23 games for the Eugene Emeralds.

Gary Thomas (48)

Played the 2007 season at Texarkana College where he posted an ERA over five in 25 innings.

Austin Taylor (49)

Taylor hit .346 with 50 RBIs during his two seasons at Holmes Community College. The Mississippi native then transferred to the University of Alabama-Birmingham. As of March 23, he is hitting .246/.354/.333 in 18 games for the Blazers.

Charles Matthews (50)

Matthews chose to attend Spartanburg Methodist College where the team finished third at the National Junior College World Series in 2007.

Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at

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