Until a few years ago, Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft consisted of 50 rounds. Cut back to 40 rounds today, organizations often augment their selections with free agents – players who would have been taken in the 10 rounds that no longer exist.
One such player is University of Nebraska outfielder Michael Pritchard. Though the left-handed hitter amassed a stat line of .314/.376/.473 over his 60 games as a senior with a team-best 21 doubles and 49 RBI, his name was not called last week.
However, the 22-year-old has come to terms with the St. Louis Cardinals on a free agent contract and is reporting to the Cardinals complex in Jupiter, Florida.
"After a long week I'm proud to say I'm apart of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Thank you to everyone who helped me get here," Pritchard tweeted on Saturday.
He added: "I couldn't have done it without a lot of people who believed in me enough to stick necks out for me"
The 6-foot, 180-pounder was a two-time All-Big Ten honoree and finished his four years as a Husker as a member of the 2014 NCAA Stillwater Regional All-Tournament Team. Previously, Pritchard had been slowed by a shoulder injury in 2012 that required surgery.
A top of the lineup-type of player, Pritchard has a line-drive swing and can take the ball to all fields. A good contact hitter, the Omaha native had just 24 strikeouts against 27 walks in 239 at-bats as a senior. Pritchard committed just one error in the outfield all season long.
To see which drafted players are signed and which are not at any time over the upcoming days and weeks, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog. All signed players will be assigned to team rosters there and here on the main site once all short-season minor league clubs are set.
© 2014 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.