College righty Morales caps Cards' Day 1

ST. LOUIS -- It wasn't by design, Dan Kantrovitz said, that the Cardinals were to go right-hander heavy on Day 1 of the First-Year Player Draft. But with their selection of University of California-Irvine pitcher Andrew Morales as the team's fourth and final selection on Thursday, the Cardinals completed the first two Draft rounds by stockpiling all right-handed pitchers.

The last to join the bunch, Morales, will help the Cardinals save some of their bonus pool money, as the senior is not expected to command his slot-value of $796,100 in order to sign. Going with an easier sign was part of the Cardinals' plan, as they are aware that they will need to allocate extra financial resources to first-round pick Jack Flaherty in order to lure him from the University of North Carolina.

That being said, the Cardinals liked Morales for more than just signability reasons.

"Morales was somebody that was really at that top of our list of college performers," Kantrovitz said. "That really jived with what our scouts were telling us about his stuff. I don't think it could have really worked out any better in that sense."

The Cardinals were awarded the No. 71 overall pick by way of the Competitive Balance Lottery, a new wrinkle to the Draft added in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement. Morales followed Luke Weaver (No. 27), Flaherty (No. 34) and Ronnie Williams (No. 68) as the organization's Day 1 selections.

Morales is unique in that he had not been previously drafted out of high school or after his junior year in college. He has, however, been on the Cardinals' radar before.

"We checked in with him a little bit last year," Kantrovitz said. "We could see that as an undrafted player, there was possibly the potential to even make a run at him then. But we decided to let him play out his senior year. It's tough to have his performance and go unnoticed or undrafted as long as he did. But we're lucky that he held out."

Morales, 6-foot and 195 pounds, is 10-2 with a 1.64 ERA this season for a UC-Irvine team that is scheduled to start against Oklahoma State in a Super Regional game on Saturday. He has won 10 of his 17 starts and has 128 strikeouts this year, ranked fourth most nationally.

Morales was also recently named the All-Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year.

Before transferring to UC-Irvine, Morales played two seasons for Rio Hondo (Calif.) Community College, where he was named the 2012 Foothill Conference Player of the Year. He combined to go 21-1 with a 2.42 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 28 starts with Rio Hondo.

The Draft will continue on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at noon. The final 30 rounds will then take place on Saturday.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.