A follow-on action I outlined was to document the all-star selections over a longer period of time, thereby putting 2008 and 2009 into clearer perspective. In doing so, 2004 was about as far back as I could go to be sure of having an apples-to-apples comparison considering franchise and league changes.
This window allows a view of three seasons prior to Jeff Luhnow ascending to the farm director’s role, which occurred in September, 2006, and three after. He had assumed full responsibility for the Cardinals drafts starting in 2005.
The top six primary farm clubs are included in the following analysis.
Cardinals minor league all-stars, 2004-2009
As the data indicates, the total level of all-stars was basically constant from 2004 through 2006. However, looking deeper, one can see the beginnings of growth in the short-season A New York-Penn League in 2005. That also marked the year considered by many to have been the first turnaround draft for the system.
In 2006, the yearly increases were taking root in A and A-Advanced and by 2007, the bulge arrived at Double-A along with continued growth at A-Advanced. The huge expansion in total all-stars that occurred in 2007 was almost totally fueled by the Double-A success.
Key names from the 2005 draft that helped drive the changes in the system in 2006 and 2007 were Colby Rasmus (first round), Bryan Anderson (fourth round) and Jaime Garcia (22nd round). All three were all-stars in the 2006 Midwest League and in the Double-A Texas League the following season.
In terms of total all-stars and by-level distribution, 2008 remained consistent with the high-water point in 2007.
The second wave of multi-year all-stars that helped sustain that level, a year behind the aforementioned group, include 2006 draftees Allen Craig (pictured – eighth round) and Luke Gregerson (28nd round). Both were A-Advanced all-stars in 2007 and Double-A stars in 2008.
This past summer’s overall decline in all-stars represented a return to the previous 2004-2006 level. The quantity of all-stars at the highest levels of the system was flat in 2009 compared to 2008, while there was a considerable drop at the class A levels. Players at those levels are younger, sourced from the most recent drafts.
Unless there is a significant turnaround in the quantity of 2010 all-stars, my feeling is that the 2007-2008 growth in total all-stars represented a spike from the strong 2005 draft and to a lesser extent 2006 that could not be sustained by later classes of Cardinals draftees.