The Cardinals held serve, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
St. Louis completed deals with two top Draft picks in advance of Monday’s signing deadline, signing infielder Zack Cox and pitcher Jordan Swagerty, but could not complete an agreement with 12th-round pick (but perceived first-round talent) Austin Wilson. A club representative confirmed the agreements late Monday night.
Cox agreed to a Major League contract, which means that he will be added to the 40-man roster. He will report to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, while Swagerty will be assigned to short-season Batavia.
Cox and Swagerty were both Draft-eligible sophomores. Wilson has a baseball scholarship waiting for him at Stanford. Thus, all three had significant leverage in negotiations.
The Cards’ two supplemental first-rounders, pitchers Seth Blair and Tyrell Jenkins, previously agreed to deals, and Jenkins has reported to rookie-level Johnson City. Blair signed for a bit over $750,000, while Jenkins received $1.3 million.
By signing Cox, even though they missed out on Wilson, the Cardinals have to consider the signing period to be something of a success. The club considered both Cox and Wilson, as well as Blair and Jenkins, to be first-round-caliber players, so bringing in a total of three such players is surely welcome. Bringing in Wilson to boot would have qualified as a “grand slam,” in the recent words of Jeff Luhnow, who serves as the Cardinals’ scouting director and farm director.
Cox was regarded by many experts as the most polished hitter in this year’s Draft. A left-handed hitting third baseman, he batted .429 for Arkansas in 2010 as the Razorbacks made it to the Super Regional round of the NCAA tournament. He hit nine home runs, drove in 48 runs and scored 67, and stole 11 bases in 12 tries. Cox slugged .609 for the Hogs this year.
Swagerty was the closer for Arizona State’s College World Series team in 2010 and a teammate of Blair with the Sun Devils. The right-hander was the 75th overall selection in the June Draft. He recorded 14 saves in 34 appearances for ASU, striking out 48 against 10 walks in 37 innings.