By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
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.
Who the Royals could have drafted: Matt Wieters, C, No. 5 overall
What he’s done: He’s already a two-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner.
Other possibilities: Jason Heyward, OF, No. 14 overall; Madison Bumgarner, RHP, No. 10 overall
Who the Royals drafted: Eric Hosmer, 1B, No. 3 overall
What he’s done: After a hope-filled rookie season when he hit .293 with 19 homers over 128 games, he’s hit under .250 with 15 homers over the next 200 games.
Who the Royals could have drafted: Buster Posey, C, No. 5 overall
What he’s done: He was rookie of the year in 2010 and won the MVP in 2012, helping the Giants to two World Series wins. For his career, he’s hit .313 with 53 homers.
Who the Royals drafted: Aaron Crow, RHP, No. 9 overall
What he’s done: He had a great first half of his rookie season, earning All-Star honors. Crow has been a dependable set-up man, but never developed into the starting pitcher the Royals had hoped.
Who the Royals could have drafted: Mike Trout, OF, No. 25 overall
What he’s done: Trout had one of the greatest rookie seasons in baseball history in 2012, finishing second in the MVP race. He hit .326 with 30 homers, 129 runs scored and 49 stolen bases.
Who the Royals drafted: Christian Colon, SS, No. 4 overall
What he’s done: The California State Fullerton product is in his fourth season in the minors, hitting .271 with 21 homers over 316 games. Currently, he’s hitting .251 for Triple-A Omaha.
Who the Royals could have drafted: Matt Harvey, RHP, No. 5 overall
What he’s done: He has 154 strikeouts in 137 1/3 innings of major league work. This season, he’s 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA over 11 starts.
Other possibilities: Chris Sale, LHP, No. 13 overall