The Cardinals turned themselves into college coaches hosting a high-school
recruit Wednesday at Busch Stadium when they welcomed 12th-round draft choice
Austin Wilson and his family to town.
Wilson, a highly-touted prep
outfielder from Harvard-Westlake high school in California, has not yet signed with the
Cardinals. He was predicted to get selected in the first round but was passed
over due to concerns about his willingness to sign a professional contract with
a scholarship to baseball-power Stanford waiting for him.
president of scouting and player development Jeff Luhnow called the club’s
chances of signing Wilson “a long shot” the day they drafted him,
but said they had nothing to lose by taking him in the 12th round.
appear to have more of a chance to sign Wilson now, with his family wanting to
pay their own way to St. Louis to see what playing for the Cardinals was all
“Clearly Austin and his family wouldn’t be here if they
didn’t have interest in signing or weren’t seriously considering it,” Luhnow
said. “I’m not going to give you any odds yet because I don’t know. We haven’t
gotten to that point of the discussion but this has to be a thrill for him and
certainly it’s going to give us an opportunity to see him in a different
The Cardinals fitted Wilson with a batting practice uniform,
complete with a jersey that had his name on the back. He met virtually the
entire team and chatted with several players before going out to right-field to
take fly balls and make throws to second base. Outfielder Allen Craig served as
his ‘host’, walking him around and introducing him to several of the
His mom Ina Coleman soaked in the experience, snapping several
photos of her son while in uniform. Wilson was scheduled to take batting practice
on the field but a rain storm hit and canceled batting practice before his group
got to hit.
Wilson and his family were scheduled to meet with chairman
Bill DeWitt Jr and general manager John Mozeliak while in town. Wilson was not made
available to the media.
“We’re glad that he took this opportunity,”
Luhnow said. “He’s in town to come here and meet with the front office and see
what it’s like to be out on the field and get a taste of Busch Stadium and
Cardinals fans. We’re hoping that we all put our best foot forward and add more
information to the family’s decision. They have a big decision to make here in
the next month or so whether to sign a professional contract or go to
Many expected the Cardinals to not have much of a realistic
chance to sign Wilson with them also having
baseman Zach Cox still unsigned. Cox was seen by some as the best hitter in the
draft but he also fell to the Cardinals at No. 25 overall because of signability
But that may not be the case, as Luhnow said the Cardinals are
making an attempt to sign all five of their remaining high-end draft
“I do hope for a scenario where we get everyone signed and we are
attempting to do that,” Luhnow said. “If that happens, it will be a scouting
directors dream come true. …We don’t know until we get closer to what the real
numbers are going to be, but that’s the goal.”
Still unsigned are
pitchers Seth Blair and Jordan Swagerty from Arizona State and high school pitcher Tyrell Jenkins, who has a scholarship to play quarterback at Baylor. Signing all
five still likely remains a long shot, but it now appears less of a long shot
than a month ago.
Just what would Luhnow call it if they were able to
come to agreements with all five selections?
“Home run, slam dunk, grand
slam, whatever you want to call it,” Luhnow said. “Because all five of these
players were discussed in the first round and if we get all five of them done,
that’s an incredible crop. But obviously it would cost some money so there’s
going to be a lot of people involved in that decision. …It’s a big
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