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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals Futures Game history uneven

In an earlier post, we considered number of league all-star game selections as one potential measure of relative yearly farm system strength. One variation introduced was participation in the annual MLB Futures Game, an all-star game of all-stars, so to speak.

Across MLB each summer, two equal rosters of top minor league prospects are selected respectively from the USA and outside the country, with the latter called the World team. The two squads face off in the game, held during MLB All-Star weekend.

Anything over the baseline of one yearly selection can be considered a positive indicator of top prospects at top levels of the organization, which is from where these players are sourced.

In the 11 years since the introduction of the Futures Game in 1999, the St. Louis Cardinals organization has been recognized with 20 invitations. The list includes 17 different players, with three having been named twice. Interestingly, the same 2005 draft class sourced all three multi-year selections, Colby Rasmus, Jaime Garcia and Bryan Anderson (pictured).

After having either one or two representatives each year, the Cardinals organization saw 2008 as their high-water mark to date at five selections. Not coincidentally, all three of the 2005 multi-year invitees were among them. Only three of the five Cardinals were active for the game however, as Garcia became ineligible to play due to his promotion to the major leagues while Rasmus was injured.

In 2009, the Cardinals also had three players in the contest held at Busch Stadium, Daryl Jones, Francisco Samuel and Brett Wallace, with the latter having since been traded away. Same fate for 2008 selection Jess Todd.

Of the 17 different Cardinals named to the game since its inception, only five have not yet reached the majors. All five appeared in the last two years and may still achieve the ultimate level of competition. They are Wallace, Anderson, Jones, Samuel and 2008 selection Fernando Salas.

Of their 13 Futures Game players originally drafted by the Cardinals, only three were compensatory picks, awarded to St. Louis for the loss of free agents to other clubs. The three are denoted by the letter “c” following their draft year and round below. They are Rasmus, Todd, taken in 2007, along with Josh Pearce from the 1999 draft.

In the following table, for informational purposes only, I also listed in parentheses selected Futures Game players then with other organizations who had either been Cardinals property previously or later became Cardinals.

Cardinals Futures Game selections by year, 1999-2009

Year # Name (draft yr-round)
2009 3 Wallace (’08-1) D Jones (’05-3) F Samuel (ND)
2008 5 Anderson (’05-4) Ja Garcia (p)(’05-22) F Salas (ND) Todd (’07-2c) Rasmus (i) (’05-1c)
2007 2 Anderson Rasmus
2006 1 Ja Garcia
2005 1 Lambert (’04-1) (D Barton)
2004 1 B Thompson (’02-16)
2003 1 Narveson (’00-2) (K Greene) (Ring)
2002 1 Journell (’99-4) (Wainwright)
2001 2 Ortega (ND) Pearce (’99-2c) (R Ludwick) (Pineiro)
2000 1 Saturria (ND)
1999 2 Ankiel (’97-2) Kennedy (’97-1) (Ozuna) (Mulder)

ND = non-drafted; i = injured, did not play; p = promoted, did not play

The final table breaks out the Futures Game selections by draft class. “Selections” include players invited more than once, while “Players” denote the number of unique names. The two right columns break out the quantity drafted between regular picks and compensatory ones.

Cardinals Futures Game 1999-2009 selections by draft round, 1997-2008 drafts

Draft Selections Players Regular Comp
2008 1 1 1
2007 1 1 1
2006 0
2005 7 4 3 1
2004 1 1 1
2003 0
2002 1 1 1
2001 0
2000 1 1 1
1999 2 2 1 1
1998 0
1997 2 2 2
Non-drafted 4 4
Total 20 17 10 3

Without the extraordinary class of 2005, Cardinals Futures Game selections probably would have remained at its previous level of one or two per year and may yet return there once that group of players age out of the development pipeline.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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