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Cardinals excited about pitching-heavy Draft haul

St. Louis picked nine pitchers with its first 15 selections, 23 overall

Cardinals excited about pitching-heavy Draft haul

ST. LOUIS -- Each selection by the Cardinals over the course of the three-day First-Year Player Draft was calculated and meaningful.

The Cardinals, when all 1,215 selections in the Draft were made, added to their farm system with 42 selections over the course of the three days and 40 rounds. Of those picks, 33 were college players and nine were high schoolers. All were players the team had heavily looked at.

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"I'm pretty excited about everybody we took, because at one point or another this spring everybody from our first guy that we took to really the 40th [round] guy we took was somebody that I spent hours talking with our area scouts about," Cardinals scouting director Dan Kantrovitz said. "At this point I'm just trying to absorb how many of these players that we liked and were able to get."

The Cardinals opened Day 1 of the Draft by selecting Luke Weaver from Florida State, continuing the trend of using first-round picks on collegiate pitchers. Weaver, who went 8-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 16 starts for the Seminoles this season, follows in the footsteps of Marco Gonzales (2013) and Michael Wacha (2012) as college pitchers selected in the past two seasons by St. Louis.

The trend of selecting pitchers didn't disappear with the Cardinals' next three picks, as they closed out the first day taking right-handers Jack Flaherty (Harvard-Westlake HS), Ronnie Williams (American Senior HS) and Andrew Morales (University of California-Irvine) in the first two rounds.

In the end, the Cardinals used 23 of their selections on pitchers, including nine of their first 15 picks in the Draft. The large number of pitchers follows the team taking 22 in last year's Draft, and the trend is by design.

"I think we have to populate all of our Minor League rosters," Kantrovitz said. "We have three short-season teams, and from my count, we took enough to populate all three of those rosters."

Not every one of those players, of course, will sign. That's where, Kantrovitz said, strategic picks came into play during Day 3 on Saturday and the final 30 rounds.

Third-round pick Trevor Megill is questionable to sign after missing all of last season at Loyola Marymount because of Tommy John surgery. The slot value for his third-round selection is $504,400, but Megill is considered a difficult sign and the Cardinals won't have a better feel for what they might offer until he throws multiple outings in the Cape Cod League in the coming weeks.

That potential difficult signing led to other uncertain selections on Day 3.

"Because of [Megill], we had to plan for a number of different scenarios today," Kantrovitz said. "One being using those proceeds to sign just one player -- a few of the players we took today might take that entire amount. Another scenario might be spread that amount among three or four or five players. And then another scenario might be having Trevor Megill sign."

One of the selections that would use a large portion of Megill's signing bonus, if not all of it if the Cardinals elect not to sign the right-hander, is the team's 11th-round selection that opened Day 3, high school first baseman Justin Bellinger.

Bellinger, who is a highly-regarded raw power hitter from St. Sebastian's in Massachusetts, is committed to Duke. The slot money for the 11th round likely wouldn't be enough to entice him to forgo college, but he was one of several players the team took on the final day that could allow them to still use Megill's money if the pitcher doesn't sign.

"There's definitely a few mixed in here that I feel will have -- and this is by design -- some signability issues," Kantrovitz said. "We're just going to have to wait and let things play out before we see if they end up being signable for us."

When all was said and done, in addition to 23 pitchers, the Cardinals selected 11 infielders, five outfielders and three catchers.

With all the strategy that went into the three-day Draft for the Cardinals, there will be plenty more in the weeks leading up to the July 18 deadline that players and teams must agree to terms by.

"I'd envision we'll have 80 percent of the guys that we'll ultimately sign, sign within the next week to 10 days," Kantrovitz said. "Then we'll probably have to wait for that last 15-20 percent maybe up until the signing deadline. I think we're going to have to wait until this process plays out a little bit."

Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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