St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha is set to play in his major league debut against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.
Wacha, a 6-6 righty from Texas A&M, was the No. 19 overall pick by the Cardinals in last year’s draft. He earned the call-up by going 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA in nine starts with Triple-A Memphis.
Kansas City selected pitcher Kyle Zimmer 14 spots earlier at No. 5 overall, and the University of San Francisco product seems nowhere near the big leagues. After 10 starts this season with High-A Wilmington, Zimmer is 0-4 with a 5.28 ERA.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that Wacha will end up having a better career than Zimmer. It’s way too early to make those kind of predictions.
But if you’re a Royals fan, it has to be frustrating. It’s not the first time a player Kansas City passed on seemed to find instant success.
Here’s a quick look at the Royals’ first –round picks since 2006 through 2010 and some of the players that went later in the same round:
Who the Royals drafted: Luke Hochevar, RHP, No. 1 overall
What he’s done: After five lackluster seasons as a starter, Hochevar was moved to the bullpen this year. Over his career, he’s 38-60 with a 5.34 ERA.
Who the Royals could have drafted: Evan Longoria, 3B, No. 3 overall
What he’s done: He was rookie of the year in 2008, has won two Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger and has been in the MVP race in four of his five seasons.
Other possibilities: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, No. 7 overall; Tim Lincecum, RHP, No. 10 overall; Max Scherzer, RHP, No. 11 overall
Who the Royals drafted: Mike Moustakas, 3B, No. 2 overall
What he’s done: He’s hit .240 with 29 homers over 280 games played. He’s currently hitting .178 with a .252 on-base percentage.