5 Biggest Draft Busts in St. Louis Cardinals History

Corey NolesCorrespondent IMay 29, 2013

5 Biggest Draft Busts in St. Louis Cardinals History

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    With the MLB draft just around the corner, all of the focus is on high school and college players. The focus is on hope, potential and a chance for a brighter future.

    With the St. Louis Cardinals, everyone is watching past draft picks as they make their big league arrival and dazzle with their triple-digit fastballs and bottomless curves. However, not all draft picks find themselves in the limelight of a major league baseball team.

    Some suffer early injuries that hamper their development. Others simply struggle to make the transition from high school or college ball to the rat race of professional baseball.

    It’s important to keep in perspective that when we’re talking about big prospects, as many as 30-40 are drafted each year. Even in the best of farm systems, to have two or three per year that actually contribute to the big league team is quite impressive.

    Every team has had their draft blunders over the years. The missed Hall of Famer (see my number one pick) or pitcher who just can’t figure out major league hitters are the rule, not the exception.

    Following are five of the Cardinals top draft busts.

5. Tyler Greene (SS)

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    Year: 2005

    Round/Pick: First Round (30th Overall)

    Cardinals statistics: (.218/.295/.329) 9 HR, 47 RBI, 25 SB

     

    Notes

    Tyler Greene was the Cardinal everyone wanted to see succeed. His talent was touted for years. He had good speed on the bases, was a solid defender and had the potential to become a good hitter.

    He may still, but he won’t do it in a Cardinals uniform.

    The front office cut their losses and moved on in August 2012. Greene has since been released by the Houston Astros and picked up by the Chicago White Sox. So far, he hasn’t become the player many expected.

     

    Noteworthy players drafted after him

    Clay Buchholz (42nd Overall). In later rounds, Jeremy Hellickson, Gaby Sanchez, Doug Fister, Tommy Hanson, Sergio Romo, Alex Avila, Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey.

4. Sean Lowe (RHP)

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    Year: 1992

    Round/Pick: First round (15th Overall)

    Cardinals statistics: 0-5, 10.72 ERA, 10 games, five starts, 27 ER in 38 IP

     

    Notes

    Lowe is a good example of a player who just didn’t make the transition—at least not in St. Louis. Lowe went on to put together three respectable seasons for the Chicago White Sox, but his downslide continued from there.

    Lowe’s “claim to fame” is likely that he is the only pitcher to have surrendered a sacrifice bunt to Albert Pujols.

     

    Noteworthy players drafted after him 

    Jason Kendall (23rd Overall), Johnny Damon (35th Overall). In later rounds, Raul Ibanez, Darin Erstad.

3. Chris Lambert (RHP)

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    Year: 2004

    Round/Pick: First round (19th Overall)

    Cardinals statistics: None

     

    Notes

    Lambert is another example of a player with high hopes who never panned out.  He was on fire when he began his professional career in Single-A Peoria, but he never found consistency with the Cardinals.

    He floated up and down through the minor leagues until he eventually became the “player to be named later” in a trade with the Detroit Tigers that brought Mike Maroth to St. Louis. He finally made his MLB debut, but it was short-lived.

     

    Noteworthy players drafter after him 

    Phil Hughes (23rd Overall). In later rounds, Yovani Gallardo, Hunter Pence, Dustin Pedroia, Mark Trumbo.

2. Aaron Holbert (SS)

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    Year: 1990

    Round/Pick: First round (18th Overall)

    Cardinals statistics: 1 Game, 3 at-bats and zeroes across the board.

     

    Notes

    Holbert was hailed for his defense at the time he was drafted, but his offense kept him from the major leagues. He had a good arm and range. However, in this changing game that was thriving more and more on explosive offense, Holbert found himself with nowhere to play.

    The Cardinals, on the other hand, found themselves with another draft dud.

     

    Noteworthy players drafted after him 

    Mike Mussina (20th Overall), Rondell White (24th Overall). In later rounds, Mike Hampton, Troy Percival, Fernando Vina, Andy Pettitte, Jason Varitek and Jorge Posada were also selected.

1. Paul Coleman (OF)

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    Year: 1989

    Round/Pick: First round (Sixth Overall)

    Cardinals statistics: None

     

    Notes

    There were high hopes for this young outfielder when he was drafted by the Cardinals, but by all standards he was a dud. The Cardinals kept him going through 1993 before he was eventually cut loose. 

    A serious lack of plate discipline made the transition from high school to professional ball all but impossible for the prospect once believed to be a five-tool player with an unlimited ceiling.

     

    Noteworthy players drafted after him in the first round 

    Frank Thomas (next pick), Mo Vaughn (23), Chuck Knoblauch (25).