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Wacha to join Carpenter and Drew as Cardinals’ fastest risers

48 years ago, in 1965, a revolutionary change in amateur player acquisition was implemented by Major League Baseball. MLB instituted its initial First-Year Player Draft, initially with two phases, in June and January.

Since then, only two St. Louis Cardinals players have reached the major league club within one year of being drafted. On Thursday, May 30, pitcher Michael Wacha is scheduled to become the third, joining J.D. Drew and Cris Carpenter.

Player MLB debut Draft Round Draft to MLB
J.D. Drew 9/8/1998 1998 1st 3 months
Cris Carpenter 5/14/1988 1987 1st 11 months
Michael Wacha 5/30/2013 2012 1st 11 months

Drew’s fast-but-slow situation was unique. Though the ex-Florida State star was in the majors just three months after being drafted by the Cardinals in 1998, the outfielder suited up in independent ball in both 1997 and early 1998. That was the result of a contract standoff with the Phillies, who had selected him second overall in June 1997. Drew played 45 games for the Cardinals at Double-A and Triple-A before getting the call in September 1998.

Carpenter, now often thought of as “the other Chris Carpenter,” was a baseball-football star from the University of Georgia drafted in 1987. Like the other two fastest-risers, he was a first-rounder. Carpenter initially made eight starts in 1988 but was shifted to the bullpen during the following season. After parts of five summers with St. Louis, the right-hander moved to the Marlins, Rangers and Brewers to close out his eight-year MLB career.

14 other Cardinals reached St. Louis within two years of their draft day. This group includes significant future contributors such as Ted Simmons, Albert Pujols and Matt Morris. They were joined earlier this month by pitcher Seth Maness, taken in the 11th round in 2011. The right-hander beat first-rounder Kolten Wong and the rest of that draft class to St. Louis.

Player MLB debut Draft Round Draft to MLB Notes
Jeff Keener 6/8/1982 1981 7th 1 year
Terry Kennedy 1978-09-04 (2) 1977 1st 1 year, 3 months
Ted Simmons 9/21/1968 1967 1st 1 year, 3 months
Rudy Arroyo 6/1/1971 1970-1s 4th 1 year, 5 months Jan secondary
Al Hrabosky 6/16/1970 1969-1 1st 1 year, 5 months Jan draft
Ed Crosby 7/12/1970 1969-1 2nd 1 year, 6 months Jan draft
Braden Looper 3/31/1998 1996 1st 1 year, 9 months
Albert Pujols 4/2/2001 1999 13th 1 year, 10 months
Matt Morris 4/4/1997 1995 1st 1 year, 10 months
Donovan Osborne 4/9/1992 1990 1st 1 year, 10 months
Luis Alicea 4/23/1988 1986 1st 1 year, 10 months
Joe Magrane 4/25/1987 1985 1st 1 year, 10 months
Seth Maness 5/3/2013 2011 11th 1 year, 11 months
Chris Perez 5/16/2008 2006 1supp 1 year, 11 months

The two-to-three years list is below. Among the many dignitaries are Terry Pendleton, Rick Ankiel and Garry Templeton. The most recent to join this group is another Carpenter, current Cardinal Matt Carpenter. The infielder made his St. Louis debut almost exactly two years after he was selected in the 13th round in 2009.

Player MLB debut Draft Round Draft to MLB Notes
Matt Carpenter 6/4/2011 2009 13th 2 years
Clayton Mortensen 6/29/2009 2007 1supp 2 years
Jess Todd 6/5/2009 2007 2nd 2 years
Dan Haren 6/30/2003 2001 2nd 2 years
Greg Mathews 6/3/1986 1984 10th 2 years
Jim Dwyer 1973-06-10 (2) 1971 11th 2 years
Allen Watson 7/8/1993 1991 1st 2 years, 1 month
Don Durham 7/16/1972 1970 7th 2 years, 1 month
Terry Pendleton 7/18/1984 1982 7th 2 years, 1 month
Eric Rasmussen 7/21/1975 1973 32nd 2 years, 1 month
Danny Cox 8/6/1983 1981 13th 2 years, 2 months
Anthony Reyes 8/9/2005 2003 15th 2 years, 2 months
Garry Templeton 8/9/1976 1974 1st 2 years, 2 months
Steve Peters 8/11/1987 1985 5th 2 years, 2 months
Adam Kennedy 8/21/1999 1997 1st 2 years, 2 months
Rick Ankiel 8/23/1999 1997 2nd 2 years, 2 months
Alan Benes 9/19/1995 1993 1st 2 years, 3 months
Jerry Reuss 9/27/1969 1967 2nd 2 years, 3 months
Dan O’Brien 1978-09-04 (2) 1976-1s 3rd 2 years, 8 months Jan secondary
Mike Tyson 9/5/1972 1970-1 3rd 2 years, 8 months Jan draft

This post was made possible by researcher Tom Orf, who pulled the base data shown above.

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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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16 Responses to “Wacha to join Carpenter and Drew as Cardinals’ fastest risers”

  1. blingboy says:

    I wonder which of those lists the Cards expected Zach Cox to be on?

  2. CariocaCardinal says:

    Didn’t Jumbo suggest the Cards were bringing up Lyons because his performance would lower the expectations for Wacha when he was called up? That kind of backfired!

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Lyons was blessed to pitch in San Diego and then in KC where the Royals had just lost 9 straight in their own park. We shall see how Lyons pitches in the long run.
    But he has sure gotten off to a fantastic start, making Mo look very smart.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    One helpful adjustment in Brian’s table above is to factor amateur experience, because have very different lives, before entering pro ball.
    For instance, JD Drew completed 4 years of college ball, whereas Albert had just 1 season of juco. If we control for experience above high school, acknowledging 3 extra years of college experience that helped Drew, then on a corrected basis JD reached the majors in 3.3 years, taking longer than Pujols. This adjustment is consistent with Pujols being a cinch for the Hall of Fame, as JD is not.

    Similarly, Simmons needing only 1.3 years and Gary Templeton 2.2 years coming from high school is faster than Matt Carpenter, who had 5 years in college, followed by 2 more years in the minors.

    • Brian Walton says:

      There are lots of ways the data could be enhanced. I am working on one for tomorrow.

      The idea of looking backward at amateur experience could be interesting, but I chose not to break out that information. All players were drafted and their professional clocks began. No matter their backgrounds, they get six years of minor league time to reach the majors.

      Taking your thought to its logical conclusion would be to simply list their age, since one can assume that all of the players had been playing baseball beyond high school at some level every year. Then, we’d have a different list – the youngest drafted players to reach the majors, not the ones with the least professional experience. Not a bad list, just a different one.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    We roll along, ho hum, another game, another W. Yawn.

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    The 2013 version of the Cardinals seem remarkably boring. They just keep winning, game after game, sparing us the agonies of defeats. We no longer have to worry if they will lose. Now I worry if they will run the table and win all of the remaining games in this season. So much of the passion seems meeting, when all we do is win.

    Mujica is very much in keeping with the 2013 way of doing business. 6 pitches last night, all strikes, not one wasted pitch, and he collected his 17th save in 17 opportunities. He is an Executioner. He finishes off other teams, no muss, no fuss, another save, yawn. There is none of the old excitement as with Isringhausen. Now its just execute pitches and dispatch the other team. Yawn.

    About the only guy who is not in step with the 2013 way of doing business is Old Wiggy. Whereas all the other players are untracked, to some degree, Wiggy remains delightfully himself. He has whiffed impotently during a full third of his 2013 plate appearances. OPS 444, batting average 167. If Matheny can just keep Old Wiggy in the Clubhouse and parked on the pines, then Mujica and the effective players can cintinue do their thing and win games.

  7. JumboShrimp says:

    In 50 games, Kozma has made one error. He has a fielding percentage of .996, more usual for a first baseman than a SS. This helps explain why the 2013 Cards are so boring. Mujica closes, Kozma fields, we win, its really boring.

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