What a month for Cardinal baseball!

Alex Blandino is among the Cardinal players selected in Major League Baseball's draft.
Alex Blandino was among the Cardinal players selected in Major League Baseball’s draft.

It’s been a big month already for Cardinal baseball players. The team got oh-so-close to the summit of college baseball – and while that dream did not come true, several players will now have the chance to chase their own glory.

The most dramatic moment in Stanford’s 2014 season came June 7 in the Super Regional in Nashville when catcher WAYNE TAYLOR smacked a game-ending homer in the ninth inning against Vanderbilt, lifting the Cardinal to a 5-4 win to force a deciding third game in the series.

“It was a great college baseball game,” Stanford head coach MARK MARQUESS told the San Francisco Chronicle. “A little bit too great for me late.”

But the next day, Stanford’s dream of a berth in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., was quashed when Vanderbilt beat it 12-5 – if Stanford had won that game, it would have been playing in Omaha. The loss ended Stanford’s season at 35-26; it was the last Pac-12 team standing in the tournament.

For Taylor, his world is changed forever. On the day he hit his walk-off homer, the Seattle Mariners selected him in the 16th round of baseball’s draft. And he was not alone. Eight Stanford players were drafted by Major League Baseball in this year’s first-year player draft held in early June. Only the University of Mississippi, with nine, had more players drafted.

Beyond Taylor, Stanford’s draftees include shortstop ALEX BLANDINO (1st round, Reds); outfielder AUSTIN SLATER (8th round, Giants); third baseman DANNY DIEKROEGER (10th round, Cardinals); pitcher A. J. VANEGAS (11th round Dodgers); outfielder DOMINIC JOSE (24th round, Yankees); catcher MIKEL WHITING (30th round, Dodgers); and pitcher SAM LINDQUIST (37th round, Mariners).

In 2013, Stanford had seven players chosen in the draft. Pitcher MARK APPEL was the first overall pick by the Houston Astros.

In the history of the university, 130 players from the Stanford baseball program have played Major League Baseball – from the first one, CHARLIE SWINDELLS in 1904, a catcher who only played three games for the St. Louis Cardinals (he went 1-for-8), to the most recent, pitcher ERIK DAVIS, who got into 10 games for the Washington Nationals in 2013. The first-ever Stanford player taken in MLB’s draft was ROBERT COX, an outfielder, by the Cardinals, in 1965 – the first year of the draft.

Ever wonder how Stanford’s 130 MLB players have done collectively as hitters and pitchers? Crunching the numbers, we discover a wealth of good pitching and some decent hitting.

Stanford’s 39 pitchers have accounted for 1,025 wins vs. 937 losses and a 4.13 ERA. Its 91 position players have registered a .246 batting average and .374 slugging average – with 1,352 home runs in 56,561 at bats. Stanford product CARLOS QUENTIN, an outfielder with San Diego and 1st round pick in the 2003 draft, is arguably the best Cardinal hitter now in the majors with a lifetime .840 OPS (batting average + slugging average).

MIKE MUSSINA, a first-round draft pick by Baltimore in 1990, ranks as the best Cardinal pitcher ever. Pitching for 18 seasons in a career that began in 1991, he compiled a lifetime record of 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA, with his entire workload coming in the American League East during an era of high offense.

– By Clifton B. Parker