Do the Cardinals Really Know How to Draft Pitchers Better?

by CubsfaninCA

Much has been made over the Cardinals “voodoo” that suddenly takes no-name pitchers and makes them stars. They seem to do the same with some hitters on occasion, but it’s mostly the pitchers that seem to come out of nowhere.

I wondered if it’s luck or voodoo, or do they really just know how to draft and/or develop pitchers better than other teams.  So I went through the last 10 drafts and pulled out the pitchers drafted by 4 teams—the Cards, our Cubs, the Braves (who also seem to have an abundance of young pitching) and the Phillies (who lately as an organization don’t seem to be doing anything well). I listed the pitchers who got to the majors and to eliminate the cup of coffee guys, used 20 Ks as a minimum threshold.   

There were a few interesting anomalies: the Cards drafted Michael Stutes but he didn’t sign and later signed with the Phillies, the Cubs originally signed Sonny Gray but he also didn’t sign, and it was fun seeing our own Brian Schlitter’s name in another team’s column.

Here are the results:


    W L SV K WAR
St. Louis Cardinals 52 32 1 666 9.1
St. Louis Cardinals 31 20 0 361 8.3
St. Louis Cardinals 24 27 32 431 5.8
St. Louis Cardinals 16 7 0 194 5.0
St. Louis Cardinals 43 27 0 484 4.8
St. Louis Cardinals 8 10 4 254 4.6
St. Louis Cardinals 5 12 61 245 3.9
St. Louis Cardinals 22 20 0 263 3.2
St. Louis Cardinals 11 11 4 212 1.8
St. Louis Cardinals 6 5 1 111 1.2
St. Louis Cardinals 13 15 6 233 0.8
St. Louis Cardinals 8 11 0 104 0.4
St. Louis Cardinals 4 2 0 39 0.4
St. Louis Cardinals 3 2 0 64 0.3
St. Louis Cardinals 4 2 0 31 0.1
St. Louis Cardinals 6 11 0 112 -0.2
St. Louis Cardinals 1 3 0 26 -0.8
St. Louis Cardinals 2 8 0 96 -0.8
St. Louis Cardinals 6 10 0 104 -2.4
  20 265 235 109 4030 45.5
    W L SV K WAR
Chicago Cubs 40 50 1 792 7.9
Chicago Cubs 22 33 0 391 4.9
Chicago Cubs 16 9 2 309 3.4
Chicago Cubs 10 17 3 224 1.9
Chicago Cubs 32 33 1 347 0.7
Chicago Cubs 4 9 0 70 0.5
Chicago Cubs 1 0 1 47 0.4
Chicago Cubs 2 3 1 85 0.3
Chicago Cubs 3 3 1 73 0.2
Chicago Cubs 8 13 0 123 -0.9
Chicago Cubs 1 2 0 30 -0.9
Chicago Cubs 10 10 1 165 -1.5
  12 149 182 11 2656 16.9
    W L SV K WAR
Atlanta Braves 15 11 198 502 11.9
Atlanta Braves 34 20 1 434 9.6
Atlanta Braves 49 35 0 648 6.6
Atlanta Braves 17 16 0 285 5.6
Atlanta Braves 38 36 0 566 3.8
Atlanta Braves 9 18 0 142 3.4
Atlanta Braves 9 10 25 211 3.3
Atlanta Braves 5 4 2 185 2.8
Atlanta Braves 8 3 1 89 2.0
Atlanta Braves 9 15 4 188 1.6
Atlanta Braves 6 5 0 60 1.5
Atlanta Braves 4 3 0 77 0.9
Atlanta Braves 1 1 0 34 0.9
Atlanta Braves 21 21 0 295 0.6
Atlanta Braves 7 9 9 130 0.3
Atlanta Braves 1 2 1 23 0.3
Atlanta Braves 2 2 0 23 0.0
Atlanta Braves 3 3 1 68 -0.1
Atlanta Braves 1 0 0 26 -0.2
Atlanta Braves 4 8 0 65 -1.1
  20 243 222 242 4051 53.7
    W L SV K WAR
Philadelphia Phillies 15 15 0 172 5.5
Philadelphia Phillies 29 25 0 366 5.2
Philadelphia Phillies 21 11 0 235 4.3
Philadelphia Phillies 19 19 0 163 3.1
Philadelphia Phillies 16 11 0 226 2.7
Philadelphia Phillies 4 2 1 84 2.0
Philadelphia Phillies 7 5 0 124 1.2
Philadelphia Phillies 5 5 0 72 1.1
Philadelphia Phillies 6 13 0 83 0.6
Philadelphia Phillies 1 0 0 75 0.4
Philadelphia Phillies 9 3 0 72 0.4
Philadelphia Phillies 3 2 0 32 0.0
Philadelphia Phillies 2 2 0 35 0.0
Philadelphia Phillies 8 15 0 121 -0.1
Philadelphia Phillies 3 2 0 52 -0.1
Philadelphia Phillies 5 9 0 59 -0.4
Philadelphia Phillies 0 1 1 42 -0.4
Philadelphia Phillies 7 11 0 200 -0.5
Philadelphia Phillies 4 2 1 52 -0.7
Philadelphia Phillies 1 1 0 33 -0.8
Philadelphia Phillies 4 9 0 71 -0.8
Philadelphia Phillies 2 6 0 42 -0.9
Philadelphia Phillies 6 9 0 80 -0.9
Philadelphia Phillies 25 28 0 229 -1.2
Philadelphia Phillies 7 13 0 117 -1.2
  25 209 219 3 2837 18.5



Based on WAR, the Braves actually have fared the best, Cards 2nd and the Phillies and Cubs are quite a ways behind. The Cardinal names that jump out are Lynn, Miller, Gregerson, Wacha, Garcia, Rosenthal, Kelly and now Marco Gonzales. The Braves have Kimbrel, Medlen, Doolittle, Hanson, Jeff Locke, Alex Wood and Minor—definitely have gotten lucky with closers. The Cubs can at least point to Shark and Cashner, but the best the Phillies can do is Jarred Cosart and Vance Worley. Interesting that they had the most pitchers overall, but few of them amounted to much--i.e. “throw it against the wall and see what sticks.”  Another way of looking at Cards vs. Cubs is this: The Cards have drafted 116 more wins over 10 years than the Cubs, which could explain 12 games of why we’re usually behind them.


And if you’re thinking “That will probably change soon because of the new regime!,” from the 2011 draft they already have Seth Maness in the bigs and our hopes lie with Dillon Maples and the suspended Andrew McKirahan. And while Michael Wacha (picked #19 in 2012) is tearing it up this year, the best we can hope for from 2012 is Pierce Johnson, Paul Blackburn, and Duane Underwood.    


It’s a good thing we’ve been good at drafting hitters.



I think you're second choice, development, is probably the key. For the most part I imagine that teams pretty much have the same general scouting reports on guys, except for that occasional scout that goes all gaga for a guy he just knows is the next Whoever. I have a hunch that if you gave the Cardinals the same set of draft picks the Cubs have made over that time period, you'd end up with about the same number of successes. Time to poach their system and offer them Ricketts money?

Very interesting comp, thanks. Especially with pitchers, I imagine development is more important than scouting, but what do I know.

Maybe even with a lot of hitters, but it can be argued that the very very best of each self develop. Doesn't look like K Bryant has needed a lot of help from anyone.

I just searched the entire history of the Internets, that's the first time Schlitter and fun have appeared in the same sentence. Over time I have come to believe whatever is being evaluated, it's never ever ever just one thing. It occurs to me that some scouts might have a better eye for pitchers rather than hitters. St Louis probably has some of those. Long-term success suggests organizational thinking to me....something the current Cubs regime seems to have instituted with "The Cubs Way" rather than 5 separate levels of stream-of-consciousness coaching and development we were treated to previously. I think there also has to be a potential confounding effect--recent Cards pitchers have pitched in front of the Cards hitters and defense, recent Cubs pitchers have been overly-dependent on the Barney's and Sweeney's and Sappelt's of the world for W's.

I can corroborate that information regarding Schlitter.

This isn't an endorsement for Tribune reporting, but note the difference between one reporter's discussion with Theo and another's. That's the Tribune. Next is Willemeyer with the Suntimes. I'm not going to even link to that. Somehow, he got "Cubs going after Zobrist" out of that same discussion. Since a bunch of other quotes are the same, you can tell that Theo was holding court with beat reporters. I don't see the article on the Suntimes sports page but it showed up on my Flipboard. Maybe they took it down, but holy crap that guy needs an editor.

seriously, though...what would the cubs do with zobrist? turn him from a nice 2nd/SS/LF multi-tool into a boring LF guy? if he doesn't play 2nd/SS as a majority of his playing time he would be rather boring, and the cubs dont have a need there so he's rather boring in that respect. hell, he's not much of a SS anymore...he wasn't sharp there in 2014 and hasn't been healthy enough to snag play there in 2015.

Not that I'm eager for a trade like that, but I think the reasoning is he'd be a bench guy to spell others - gosh I don't really know. But in a long season it would be good to have a guy come in for the infielders once in awhile, even if he's not top grade anymore. I just hope that Cubs fans don't pressure TheoCorp to rush things. We've got three rookies starting every day, and suddenly no bullpen. It's gonna be rough sailing. I don't want them selling the farm to fix this. That's not a wait til next year call, it's just that I'm happy seeing these guys work through their inconsistencies, and see what happens. Eventually Soler is going to be ready for the 4 spot, and that will knock Starlin down to where he needs to be, lower in the lineup. They have no bench, either. So these are pretty big holes. I thought going in that it would be a 6 and out team, meaning you get to the sixth inning with the Cubs and you better be winning, but it hasn't worked out that way so in my mind this is a .500 team, and that's if things don't get any worse. The rookies will keep getting better, good enough, along with Rizzo, to keep things interesting. Unless there's some killer trade on the horizon I'm hoping they just hold fast, although maybe Vogelbomb could bring something nice from an AL team.

his cost vs already having castro/russell/baez in house makes it sketchy to me. OAK didn't give up the farm, but they gave up a cheap C (who got badly injured 1st game he played), an interesting SS prospect, and a utility OF "prospect" in the deal to get zobrist. i'm sure they'd want a fringe prospect at the very least (such as vogelbomb) as a starting point to move him. if the cubs needed a 2nd, i'd be stoked to have that link being made (even though a weak link, as pointed out in the original media critique post). it's nice that the cubs pretty much only have a need in the pen + LF...and one could argue that LF is being adequately covered anyway (especially when deno gets back to support cog). aside from the pen, the biggest holdup is the normal curve of youth development in the bigs...not a bad place to be.

Not sure I'd call Vogelbach a "fringe" prospect just yet, limited to 1B and DH for sure, but he could have a special bat and OBP that would make him very attractive to an AL team. He's one of our best chips and no way I'm trading him for a rental of a 34-yr old utility player. Maybe as part of a package for a rental (Price?) starter but Zobrist isn't that important of an upgrade for us.

the prospect game always has it's outliers. i view him as a fringe guy, others are excited about him to the point of calling him a legit prospect. he's done very little so far in his career to argue with someone who views him as a legit prospect. the holes in his game seem to mostly revolve around his defense now that his weight issue seems to be on the backburner. it's worth mentioning that p.goldschmidt didn't make hardly anyone's top prospect list, though some people saw greatness in him. we know where that stands now. i also agree that zobrist is unneeded on this club given it's excess of talent up the middle, or at the very least a luxury piece. they have needs elsewhere as of now.

righty pitcher, Tayler Scott promoted from Pelicans to Smokies

Re: Weinermeyer, #SunTimes, a close friend of mine was the Union Steward recently, and fortunately found a job after being offered severance (which he took), after having been a writer there for 14 years. The whole "ship" is going down unless a miracle happens and its not a surprise that this guy will say anything to sell a few more papers or get a few more eyeballs. There has been a rumor during the ThoJed regime that the guy purposely is told to be negative by his Editor, but I have never corroborated that.

Whiny-Meyer? The new Paul Sullivan.

Interesting article on pitchers, but remember this -Samardzija/Hammel was flipped for Addison Russell/Billy McKinney/Dan Strailey. -Strailey with Valbuena was traded for Dexter Fowler -Cashner was traded for Anthony Rizzo -James Russell was traded for minor league prospect Victor Cartini So it's not as bad as people may think

and we got Hammel back a few months later.

And James Russell!

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  • bradsbeard 1 hour 25 min ago (view)

    Since the deal isn't official, I wonder if the Cubs will wait until camp opens to finalize the deal and then put him on the 60 day IL as soon as it's available (assuming it's a major league deal). That doesn't really make sense in light of their luxury tax maneuvering though. If he's gonna miss a third of the season they'd probably only offer a minor league deal I guess. 


  • Arizona Phil 4 hours 28 min ago (view)

    Cory Abbott, Ben Hecht, Ryan Lawlor, and Brailyn Marquez were in a separate group on Field #3, so they may be prepping for NRIs to MLB Spring Training.   


  • Arizona Phil 4 hours 29 min ago (view)

    And Max Bain threw (long toss) at Instructs this morning, too. 


  • Arizona Phil 4 hours 29 min ago (view)

    I can positively confirm that Jerrick Suiter (1B-OF selected by Cubs from Pirates in Minor League Phase of last month';s Rule 5 Draft) is indeed being converted to a RHP. I saw him throw long-toss this morning at Instructs. 


  • Arizona Phil 4 hours 29 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have purchased the contract of LHP Adam Choplick from Southern Maryland (Atlantic League) and he has been assigned to AA Tennessee.

    Choplick was the 14th round draft pick of the Texas Rangers out of the U. of Oklahoma in 2015, and he was released by the Rangers at the end of Spring Training 2019 (never got higher than AA). 

    I saw Choplick throw (long-toss) at Instructs this morning and he is one huge dude (6'9 250+). 


  • crunch 5 hours 35 min ago (view)

    the entire cubs offseason has been "wow, this guy was good 2-3 years ago, but didn't play or sucked in recent past."

    houston finished using their trash can and the cubs are rooting around in it looking for players.

    speaking's taken MLB longer to figure out bryant's service time complaint than the entire astros cheating scandal.


  • crunch 7 hours 12 min ago (view)

    "Chicago Cubs selected the contract of LHP Adam Choplick from Southern Maryland Blue Crabs."

    okay.  sure.  congrats and good luck.


  • Charlie 9 hours 56 min ago (view)

    Good for Nick. Good luck to him and the Reds improving his defense. That park should very much play to his offense.

    Interest in Gennett is strange. If you are going to pick up a bench infielder at this point, shouldn't it be someone with SS chops?


  • crunch 10 hours 58 min ago (view)

    nick castellanos to the reds, 4/64m...opt out after 1 year.

    meanwhile, on the cubs front...

    "Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports that the Cubs continue to have interest in free agent Scooter Gennett. "



  • Sonicwind75 15 hours 19 min ago (view)

    There seemed to be a least an tacit understanding between ownership and fans during the rebuild that we as fans should support the organization when it was intentionally underspending and tanking. When it was time to be competitive, you know when the greatest core of Cubs players in my lifetime are in their prime, ownership would make the most of that window. That doesn't appear to be the case with the team shedding around $40 million in salary. 


  • crunch 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    in all honesty, the team is spending a healthy amount that i only jokingly complain was not just fans talking about the extra perks the new revenue streams and tv contract would open.  it was ownership and front office at points in the past bringing it up.


  • George Altman 1 day 2 hours ago (view)

    What's pretty obvious is that the Cubs 2020 salary budget is $208m AAV.  Whatever Theo/Jed can field with that number (existing players, trades, and/or signings). They could generate $100m from Marquee, concerts, Wrigleyville, etc and it's NOT going to translate into more $$$ for players.  Very sad, frustrating, and maddening. 


  • crunch 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    maybe if the cubs can squeeze a 5th in-season concert at wrigley they can sign addison russell.


  • Charlie 1 day 7 hours ago (view)

    Morosi reporting that the Reds are favorites for Castellanos. Seems like a good direction for them if they can deal with his defense in LF. They look to have the best sarting rotation in the division (or close to it) as things stand. If they can squeeze more offense out of the OF and skate by with their bullpen, they could hang reasonably close to the Cards-Brewers-Cubs pack. I'll be curious to see how much money they throw at him if they do sign him. Being younger has to get him more money than Ozuna, right?


  • Charlie 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    Sure would be nice to rehab a player and then have them stick around and help out the team. Fingers crossed for Souza.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: Unfortunately the video doesn't show how his knee looked the day after the workout, whether he can run and take BP two days in a row, if he needs to take pain meds before or after he does physical activity, and/or if he has to have his knee drained every couple of weeks.