Andy Young was the Cardinals' 37th round pick in last year's draft. On Wednesday he was named to the Midwest League All-Star team. (Allison Rhoades/Peoria Chiefs)

By Rob Rains

The success of a draft class can’t be accurately measured for a number of years, until an organization has time to find out how many of those players can turn into major leaguers.

One year after the 2016 draft, however, the immediate returns on Randy Flores’ first selections as the Cardinals’ scouting director have been positive.

Fifteen of the 32 players who signed with the Cardinals after the draft are on full-season rosters this year, including 11 playing for the Peoria Chiefs.

Two major-college pitchers, Dakota Hudson and Zac Gallen, have advanced the farthest, to the rotation of the Double A Cardinals, while pitcher Connor Jones and shortstop Tommy Edman are with the high Class A Palm Beach Cardinals.

The Cardinals’ top pick, shortstop Delvin Perez, has spent the early part of this season in the extended spring training program so he could receive extra instruction from Jose Oquendo. Perez, still only 18, is expected to play for Johnson City when the short-season team begins its season later this month.

For players selected in the top six rounds, success is not surprising. The success of some of the players at Peoria, however, is what could turn out to be more important in the overall evaluation of the 2016 draft.

Nine of the 11 players on the current Chiefs roster who came from last year’s draft were selected in the 11th round or later – including three picks: first baseman Stefan Trosclair, pitcher Mike O’Reilly and infielder Andy Young, who were named Wednesday to the Midwest League All-Star team.

Trosclair was a 20th round pick from Louisiana-Lafayette; O’Reilly was selected in the 27th round from Flager (Fla.) College and Young, who has played second, shortstop and third, was the Cardinals’ choice in the 37th round out of Indiana State.

One of the other two Peoria players named to the All-Star team was catcher Andrew Knizner, the seventh-round selection.

O’Reilly, a 22-year-old right-hander, threw a two-hit shutout on just 85 pitches on Wednesday night. He lowered his ERA to 1.69 and has allowed just 31 hits in 48 innings, striking out 42 while issuing only four walks.

Young leads the Chiefs with nine homers and 32 RBIs in 47 games while posting a .290 average.

Trosclair, who like O’Reilly made the jump to Peoria from the GCL Cardinals, skipping two levels in the organization, has posted a .282 average with three homers and 23 RBIs.

All have impressed manager Chris Swauger in their first chance to play on a full-season team.

“You’re never going to be able to tell about a draft class until they’ve put a little distance behind them but it’s always a good sign when guys are able to come out and put up good starts to the season. It sets them up moving forward,” Swauger said.

“These guys have not just set the world on fire, each one has gone through a little adversity and some tough stretches and come out of it. It’s not like it’s been an easy cakewalk for them to the All-Star game.”

The biggest adjustment for players at the early stages of a career come in playing games almost every day, and learning how to deal with that grind on both a physical and mental basis.

“That’s part of their learning process,” Swauger said. “These guys have all played year-round, but they have never played consecutively year round. That’s where they are learning how their bodies react, how their minds react. Part of this game is being able to play and perform when you don’t feel your best.

“Middle of June, you are far enough away from the start of the year where you that new-season excitement is over but you look up at the calendar and realize we still have at least two months to go. We’re in the middle of the hump, and this month is a great learning experience for those guys.”

For Young, O’Reilly and Trosclair, making the All-Star team a year after they were such low-round draft picks speaks to what can happen if players are given a chance. Going into the draft last June, that was what all three wanted.

“We’re still figuring it out, but I feel like we’re on track,” Young said. “It’s been a blast so far. Get an opportunity and do as much with it as you can.”

That’s the same goal for both O’Reilly and Trosclair.

“I try not to think too much ahead,” O’Reilly said. “I take it one batter at a time, one pitch at a time. Try to make a good pitch and get people out. Continue to throw strikes and see what happens.”

Said Trosclair, “I love the opportunity I have. Thankful to be here. Just try to take it a day at a time, go out and compete the best I can. This level has a lot more consistency and talented players.

“I just wanted a shot. I want to keep working and do what I can to keep moving up.”

Swauger knows what all of his young players are going through. He was a 26th round pick out of The Citadel in 2008 and spent six years playing in the Cardinals’ organization before transitioning to managing. He spent the last two years in Johnson City before moving up to Peoria.

“They didn’t get a ton of money or weren’t highly touted,” Swauger said of the low-round selections. “For them to perform is huge. There is pressure on them, there is pressure on everybody – just to keep playing. It helps them know ‘I can hang. Just because I didn’t get a lot of money or the fact there were a lot of people drafted in front of me, I’ve still got a shot.’

“’I’ve got a jersey and I’m going to make the most of my opportunity.’ That’s a fun thing to see and a fun thing to watch.”

This year’s draft will begin on Monday, although the Cardinals’ first pick, in the third round, won’t be making any selections until Tuesday.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains