(Baseball StL) -- The St. Louis Cardinals recently completed the 2013 first-year player draft and by all accounts, secured considerable talent for its already well-stocked farm system.
Or did they?
We won’t know for a few years whether they did or not but if this draft follows a typical draft for a major league team, they will select or sign anywhere from 40-60 players of which maybe a half dozen will see any major league time, often not even with the club that selected them. Coco Crisp and Ryan Freel are two major leaguers originally drafted by the Birds who went on to play with different major league teams.
How hard is it to project who will succeed and who won’t?
Here’s a quiz. What St. Louis native was so impressive in high school that he was drafted number one by the Chicago White Sox, went to college instead and was drafted number one by the California Angels when he graduated four years later?
Well, maybe Stan Musial or Yogi Berra? No, the major league draft didn’t begin until 1965.
OK, how about … Danny Goodwin?
Yes, Danny Goodwin, hardly a household name and certainly not the first name that would pop into your mind.
Goodwin played high school ball in Peoria and was taken #1 by the White Sox in 1971 and again at #1 by the Angels when he graduated from Southern University in 1975. He is the only player ever drafted twice at #1 in history.
So enthralled were the Angels by Goodwin that they rushed him to the Bigs at the end of his draft year where he went 1-for-10 in a few courtesy plate appearances.
Over eight years from 1975-82, Goodwin kicked around the majors, playing for the Twins, Angels and Athletics. He was primarily a designated hitter, occasionally played first base or pinch-hit. He never hit .300 in any one season. In fact, even though he had several years in the majors, he only played in 252 games and batted 636 times for a lifetime average of .236. (A typical starter in the majors would bat nearly that many times in a season.) His Sabermetrics WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was -2. He was 28 years old when he left the game.
A lot of baseball fans know the Goodwin saga but here’s some trivia for that barroom bet: though he played for all or part of 8 seasons, 8% of Goodwin’s hits, 10% of his RBIs, 11% of his runs, 13% of his 2Bs & 3Bs, and 15% of his HRs came over the course of just 3 double-headers. Talk about career days.
The purpose of this is not make fun of Danny Goodwin. It is to illustrate how difficult it is to play major league baseball and more to the point, how hard it is to draft someone based on what they have done to this point.
Danny Goodwin is just one of many first-round picks who came into baseball as the next Roy Hobbs (“The Natural”) and was either injured, immature, never developed or just couldn’t make the jump to The Show.
Scouts and ultimately player personnel staff are looking at talent not for what they are right now, but what they project they will be in five years. With college players you get a pretty good picture of what you’re going to get. With 17-year-old high schoolers, it’s a long shot at best because few of them are capable of even comprehending what it takes to play professional baseball day in and day out. Going from a high school team on which you are the best player to a team of players better than you is a difficult challenge, which is why most teams tend to stay away from all but the absolute best youngsters in the early rounds.
But even then, with a well established, polished and can’t miss prospect, it isn’t a sure thing.
Ask Danny Goodwin.
Next: Looking back at some of the St. Louis Cardinals drafts.