Within the last decade, the Cardinals have put emphasis on developing from within. That focus has paid dividends, manifesting into 17 players from the current 25-man roster having come through the First-Year Player Draft.
Through the years, the Cardinals have had many big draft hits, ranging from one of the best finds in history with Albert Pujols (13th round, 1999) to nabbing Ted Simmons (1st round, 1967), one of the best hitting catchers of his time. As is the case with baseball, there have also been swings and misses with unsigned players or guys traded away who went on to have success elsewhere.
As the Cardinals gear up for another round of building from within next week, here is a look at how the Cardinals have fared in the first 15 rounds since 1965.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Round 1: Ted Simmons, 1967
Drafted with the 10th pick in 1967, Simmons went on to become arguably the top first-round choice in franchise history. Simmons appeared in six of his eight All-Star Games while playing in St. Louis for 13 of his 21 years in the Majors.
During his career with the Cardinals, which spanned 1,564 games, Simmons hit .298 with 172 homers and 929 RBIs. Simmons became one of the top hitting catchers in baseball, hitting .300 during seven full seasons in the Majors, achieving the feat six times for the Cards. He ranks sixth all-time in Cardinals history in RBIs and ninth in home runs.
Round 2: Todd Zeile, 1986
The Cardinals selected Todd Zeile with their second-round pick in 1986, and while he would go on to play for 11 different teams during his 16-year career in the Majors, he spent the first seven seasons with the Cardinals.
During his time in St. Louis, Zeile appeared in 757 games, hitting .267 with 75 home runs and 394 RBIs.
The Cardinals have made other key second-round selections, but neither spent much time in St. Louis. In 1967, the team selected St. Louis native Jerry Reuss, and he became a two-time All-Star after he left the Cardinals with two full seasons under his belt. Meanwhile, the Cardinals took Dan Haren in 2001, but he made just 19 starts among 28 appearances in two seasons before being traded.
Round 3: Ray Lankford, 1987
Ray Lankford spent all but two of his 14 years in the Majors with the Cardinals, and even after he left, he returned for one final season in 2004 before retiring.
The outfielder ranks 10th all-time in Cardinals history in games played, having appeared in 1,580. His name is scattered among the top 10 in numerous other categories in Cardinals history, too. Lankford ranks fifth in homers (228), walks (780) and stolen bases (250), eighth in RBIs (829) and ninth in runs (928) and doubles (339).
Since 1980, he ranks second for the Cardinals in game-winning RBIs with 102. Only Albert Pujols had more.
Round 4: Yadier Molina, 2000
There is no doubt that the Cardinals' top fourth-round selection was made in 2000, when they selected their current catcher.
Yadier Molina has developed into arguably the best in baseball at his position. After breaking into the Majors in 2004, Molina has been a full-time catcher for the past 10 seasons, appearing in 1,263 games while hitting .286 with 569 RBIs (entering May 27).
Molina has been a National League All-Star each of the past five seasons, and he finished third and fourth, respectively, in NL MVP voting the last two.
Offense doesn't tell the full story, either. The six-time Gold Glove winner has thrown out 45 percent of runners attempting to steal on him, four times leading the league in caught-stealing percentage.
Round 5: Skip Schumaker, 2001
Schumaker may currently be in Cincinnati, but it's in St. Louis where he played the bulk of his career after the Cardinals selected him 2001. In eight seasons with the Cardinals, Schumaker hit .288 in 810 games.
The fifth round hasn't been a big one for the Cardinals in their Draft history. Schumaker ranks atop the list of picks in Wins Above Replacement at 3.0.
Round 6: Lance Johnson, 1984
Lance Johnson may not be a name many Cardinals fans are familiar with, as he spent just one season in St. Louis after being a sixth-round choice in 1984. Yet he is far and away the most successful Major Leaguer to come from a St. Louis pick in this round.
Johnson spent most of his career with the White Sox after the Cardinals traded him to Chicago in 1988 with Ricky Horton for Jose DeLeon. He was the league leader in triples in five of six seasons between 1991-96, and he led the league in hits in '95 and '96.
Among sixth-round choices made by the Cardinals, Johnson's career WAR is 30.1. Ranking second is left-handed pitcher Rheal Cormier (9.7), making Johnson the clear top talent St. Louis has selected, even if he wasn't with the franchise for long.
Round 7: Terry Pendleton, 1982
Terry Pendleton spent seven of his 15 seasons with the Cardinals, becoming a premier defensive third baseman.
Pendleton won two Gold Gloves while with the Cardinals, appearing in 927 games. The season after he left as a free agent for Atlanta, Pendleton led the league in hits and batting average to win the National League MVP in 1991.
Round 8: Allen Craig, 2006
After being selected by the Cardinals in 2006, Craig made his debut in the Majors in '10. His presence marks another homegrown talent on the current roster who has spent his first five seasons in St. Louis.
Last season, Craig was named an NL All-Star for the first time in his young career, finishing the season hitting .315 with 13 homers and 97 RBIs. He's topped 90 RBIs in each of the past two seasons.
Both Bill Caudill (11.5) and Tom Pagnozzi (7.7) rank above Craig (7.0) in WAR among eighth-round selections by the Cardinals. But Caudill never appeared in the Majors with St. Louis, and in five seasons, Craig has already begun to match Pagnozzi's totals, making it at the very least a toss-up.
Round 9: Jack Wilson, 1998
The ninth round in St. Louis history is marked by misses. Jack Wilson never actually played for the Cardinals, but he is the top player among the team's selections with a WAR of 23.5. He was traded in 2000 to the Pirates for Jason Christiansen, and became an everyday shortstop for Pittsburgh for most of the next nine seasons, making an All-Star roster in 2004.
The next top player in WAR among ninth-round selections by the Cardinals is Bucky Dent (17.4). Dent was a three-time All-Star, but while St. Louis drafted him in both 1969 and '70 (secondary draft), he never signed.
Round 10: Vince Coleman, 1982
Coleman was a speedster, and he made that known in each of his six seasons with the Cardinals.
Coleman led the NL in steals every season he was in St. Louis. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1985, while finishing 11th in MVP voting. He finished 12th in MVP voting in 1987 and was an All-Star in '88 and '89.
Coleman ranks second in Cardinals history with 549 steals. After he left St. Louis, he played seven seasons for five different teams and never led the league in stolen bases again.
Round 11: Jim Dwyer, 1971
St. Louis saw the talent in infielder Bill Madlock when they drafted him in 1969. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, he chose not to sign. Madlock became a three-time All-Star and finished in the top 20 of the MVP voting six times in his 15-year career, hitting .305 with 860 RBIs.
Madlock (38.0) represents by far the Cardinals' top 11th-round choice by WAR.
Among players who did sign, outfielder Jim Dwyer (6.3) is the top choice, though he did his best work away from St. Louis. The career .260 hitter batted just .230 in five seasons (170 games) with the Cardinals.
Round 12: Mike Perez, 1986
The 12th round hasn't brought a big hit for the Cardinals, but pitcher Mike Perez marks their top selection.
Perez was a reliever in parts of five seasons while in St. Louis, making a career-high 77 appearances in 1992. He finished his career with the Cardinals with a 19-10 record with 20 saves and a 3.40 ERA.
Round 13: Albert Pujols, 1999
St. Louis found a gem in the 13th round back in 1999.
The accolades speak for themselves when it comes to Pujols. In 11 seasons with the Cardinals, Pujols was a three-time NL MVP, and he finished second in the voting four other times. He was a nine-time All-Star, and his place in Cardinals history is already set.
Pujols ranks in the top 10 in 12 of the 15 major hitting categories in St. Louis history, joining numerous Hall of Famers. He ranks second behind only Stan Musial in home runs (445), RBIs (1,323), doubles (455) and walks (975).
Round 14: Nobody
The 14th round of the draft has been mostly misses for St. Louis. They drafted both Ian Kennedy (2003) and Ryan Freel (1994), but neither signed.
Only two other 14th-round selections made by the Cardinals have made it to the Majors; both finished their careers with a negative WAR.
Round 15: Nobody
Much like the 14th round, the 15th has yet to be a hit for St. Louis. Jason Michaels represents the Cardinals' top pick when they selected him in 1997. He, like the team's top picks in the 14th round, didn't sign.
Only three other players drafted by St. Louis in the 15th round since 1965 have made it to the big leagues.
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com.