Found June 19, 2013 on Fox Sports Midwest:
ST. LOUIS This is how Michael Girsch recalls the 41st round of the 2008 MLB Draft. The players he and his fellow St. Louis Cardinals executives had vetted with the team's multi-tier scouting system were gone, swooped up by the Cardinals or some other team.A pool of talent had dried, and it was time to sift for potential diamonds. Clubs were burning through the last rounds. Picks were coming in at a pace of one every 15 seconds. Then the Cardinals were due, and they had a regional scout inFlorida, Charlie Gonzalez, who was willing to bet his house on a late-blooming, long lefty who had just finished his freshman season at Palm Beach Community College in Lake Worth, Fla. Girsch, then a director of the team's baseball development department, had to have heard the name "Kevin Siegrist" said into the phone that was connected with the commissioner's office. But he doesn't specifically remember it. And why would he? "At that point, there are no perfect players left," Girsch, now an assistant general manager with the Cardinals, said. "You're looking for guys who have one tool or attribute you think you can bet on. They also have to be sign-able. A lot of guys at that point in the draft would rather go to college than pro." As he talked in the back row of the Busch Stadium press box, he leaned forward in his seat to get a glimpse of the field where Siegrist made his Major League debut as a reliever on June 6. The rookie has now appeared in six games, struck out 10, surrendered just one hit and protected a 0.00 ERA. "Still, sometimes I sit back and realize, this is happening right now," Siegrist said. The people who picked him in 2008 have shared the pleasant surprise. "He hasn't surpassed what Charlie thought might happen," Girsch said. "This is what Charlie dreamed of happening. But realistically, if you polled everyone in the room after the 41st pick, 'Did we get a big-leaguer?' People would say, 'No. We almost never get big-leaguers in the 41st round.'" Siegrist'searly success this season is the result of the 23-year-old having something you can't teach(a 6-foot-5 body that prefers to throw a baseball with its left hand) along with a willingness to change. As a result, he has become an inspiration to those in the Cardinals' farm system who are striving to get their own taste of the Major-League spotlight. "He didn't exactly explode on the scene the day he showed up," Girsch said. "He persevered. He stuck with it. There were times where he could have said, 'This isn't working like I thought it would.' He didn't get here in 12 months. It took him five years." There were plenty of detours that could have been dead ends.Siegrist was cut from his high school team as a freshman and had no Division I scholarship offers upon graduation. Things didn't get automatically easier once he signed with the Cardinals for 85,000 after his lone junior college season, either. The big lefty struggled, then leveled out as a starter. But he never peaked. "When I had him, you would have never thought he would pitch in the Big Leagues," Mark DeJohn said. DeJohn was the manager of short-season Class A Batavia when Siegrist pitched there in 2009. He saw Siegrist's fastball improve. He also saw how the 19-year-old couldn't seem to string together strong starts consistently. Between nagging injuries (everything from lower back pain to a sore non-throwing shoulder) and a Cardinals minor league system loaded with talented starters, Siegrist never earned a call-up. "He was holding his own as a starter," Girsch said. "But he wasn't dominating." Siegrist was shifted to relief heading into the 2013 season.Pitching analysis predicted an increase in his velocity if he switched, and that left hand would be even more special as a late-game chess piece against opposing lineups. He embraced the change, and worked on lowering his arm slot to better confuse batters. He made 13 appearances in Double-A, then earned a promotion to Triple-A Memphis. In 27 23 innings between the two clubs, he allowed just six earned runs and 11 hits, along with 44 strikeouts. It was good enough to earn him the Cardinals' Minor League Pitcher of the Month award for May. More importantly, it earned him his ticket to St. Louis when Cardinals' reliever Maikel Cleto couldn't cut it. "This kid deserves the credit for doing what he's done," DeJohn, now the Cardinals minor league field coordinator said of his former player. "It's a good story, and I hope he never sees the minor leagues again. But regardless, he'll never see Batavia again." "He's a guy that we can now use as an example when we talk to kids just signing, and tell them, 'Hey, there is a 41st-round pick. So, if you think only the kids with money are taken care of, or looked after better, it's not true.' Money is not going to get you to the big leagues. Talent is. We can now sit in this clubhouse and say, 'Yeah, Kevin Siegrist pitched in this league back in 2009.'" The story is more impressive with some stats to back it up. Siegrist is one of 51 players from the 2008 Draft currently on an MLB Roster, according to STATS Inc. Translation: The player picked 1,235th out of 1,504 is a part of the 3.4 percent of active players from the 2008 class. Siegrist is also one of only eight active players in the MLB who were drafted in the 40th round or later. Finally, there's the fact that the 41st round the relative crapshoot in which Girsch and Co. landed Siegrist in 2008 no longer exists. The MLB cut the draft from 50 rounds to 40 in 2012. "Actually, I just heard about that," Siegrist said when asked about the 41st round no longer being a thing. "I didn't realize it. I don't pay that much attention to the draft now." How could he? He's been too busy beating the odds. Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at

Are the Cardinals pursuing Jonathan Papelbon?

We're not even to July yet and the rumors are already flying around the Cardinals. The latest involves Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.  According to Nick Cafardo, the Phillies believe there are at least 3 teams--the Red Sox, Cardinals and Tigers--that may have some interest in their closer. From a purely "win now" standpoint, Papelbon would make sense for the...

Michael Wacha's not coming back anytime soon

After Tyler Lyons struggled in his last start, many were quick to speculate that the Cardinals might make a change in the rotation again, perhaps even bringing Michael Wacha back.  However, the way they are handling their starting pitchers down at AAA Memphis tells a different story. As reported by Derrick Goold, the Cardinals are shifting to a modified 6-man rotation down at Memphis...

The Fab 5: MLB Power Rankings 6

In this week’s addition of the Fab Five, the St. Louis Cardinals once again maintained their stranglehold on the top spot in our power rankings. Clearly the best team in all of baseball, the Cardinals show no signs of slowing down and have continued to hold off both the second-place Cincinnati Reds, as well as the third-place Pittsburgh Pirates in the increasingly competitive N...

Inside the pitch that has made Edward Mujica the Cards' dominant closer

ST. LOUIS -- OK, Edward Mujica, tell us about your split-finger fastball, the pitch every bit as responsible for putting the Cardinals on top of the NL Central as Carlos Beltran's 17 homers, Yadier Molina's .366 batting average and Adam Wainwright's 10 wins. "Everybody is calling it a split-finger but you know what, the grip is kind of like a circle changeup,"...

Teammates running out of new praise for MVP front-runner Molina

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals players have been asked so often to describe Yadier Molina that they're all out of superlatives. When he does something now to win yet another game, they look at each other and shake their heads like the rest of us. "He's a joke," Matt Carpenter said Wednesday night. "The guy is that good. You can't say enough good things about him...

Cardinals organization roster matrix: 2013 short-season

With short-season action underway for the full-season 2013 clubs, it is time for another refresh of the St. Louis Cardinals system roster matrix. This version reflects the changes made from the start of the 2013 short-season (post draft) through the end of the season. The previous matrix reflects the rosters as they evolved from the start of the regular season in April through mid...

Matheny sticking with rookie Lyons in starting rotation

ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Martinez has been stretched out in the minors and Joe Kelly has shown he's always up to start. But if you think either will be starting in place of rookie left-hander Tyler Lyons Friday night, think again. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on Monday afternoon did not talk as if Lyons, who has lost his past three starts while giving up 14 runs, is in danger of...

St. Louis Cardinals: Yadier Molina powers Cardinals past Cubs 4-1

For the second consecutive night, the St. Louis Cardinals offense looked dormant. But thanks to a huge two-run shot off the bat of Yadier Molina in the sixth inning, the Cardinals were able to defeat the Chicago Cubs 4-1. Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook deserves a lot of credit for the victory as well. Making his second start since coming off the disabled list, Westbrook allowed...

One-on-one with Cardinal Trevor Rosenthal

Brian Walton interviews St. Louis Cardinals right-handed relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal.

Shelby Miller leads NL Rookie of Year odds

Back in April, the folks at provided a set of odds on a number of Major League Baseball-related races. Recently, they provided a refresh so I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast then versus now. A new line has also been established. Because of Yasiel Puig-mania, the oddsmakers at set lines on the National League Rookie of the Year race. A...

Recap: Wainwright struggles early in loss to Cubs

ST. LOUIS (AP) Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ransom hit back-to-back homers in a four-run first inning and that was plenty for Jeff Samardzija, who pitched the Chicago Cubs over the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 Tuesday night. Chicago started fast against Adam Wainwright (10-4) and broke a five-game losing streak in St. Louis. Carlos Beltran hit his team-high 17th homer for the Cardinals, who...

Today in Sports History – Curt Flood vs MLB

On this day in 1972, US Supreme Court, 5-3, confirmed lower court rulings in Curt Flood case, upholding baseball’s exemption from antitrust laws. In January of 1970, Curt Flood, an African-American outfielder with the St. Louis Cardinals, sued the MLB and its “reserve clause.” While the sport has its history of legal challenges, this was the first time a player of Flood’s...

The Cardinal Nation’s on-site minors coverage

The Cardinal Nation's team of seven locally-based reporters, including new writers in State College and Johnson City, bring St. Louis Cardinals minor league news to subscribers seven days a week.
Cardinals News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.