Just prior to the Monday midnight Eastern deadline, the St. Louis Cardinals announced signing of two of their remaining big three draftees. Third baseman Zack Cox, their first round selection (25th player overall) and right-handed pitcher Jordan Swagerty, their second round pick (75th player overall) in the June First-Year Player Draft agreed to terms.
The Cardinals made an attempt, but were not able to sign 12th round selection Austin Wilson, a player said to have first-round talent. Instead, the outfielder will be attending Stanford University on a baseball scholarship.
With the two signings, the Cardinals came to terms with 44 of the 52 players they drafted this June, including 19 of their top 20 selections. One of the 44 has since retired. Two of the eight unsigned changed their minds after verbal agreements. The Cardinal Nation subscribers can review the details of all 52 here.
Cox will sign a $3.2 million major league contract covering the next four years. According to the AP, he receives a $2 million signing bonus, payable in $400,000 installments on October 31 and December 15 of this year, and December 15 in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Cox receives a $200,000 salary this year, which will not be prorated. In 2011, he receives $200,000 if in the minors and the minimum if in the majors. His salary rises to $350,000 in the minors in 2012 or the major league minimum. In 2013, he will receive $450,000 in the minors and the higher of $450,000 or the minimum in the majors, according to the AP report.
As such, Cox will be required to be placed onto the Cardinals' 40-man roster and will use an option each season he remains in the minor leagues. With a full 40-man roster currently, the club will need to make an associated move to remove a player to accommodate the addition of Cox.
To begin his professional career, Cox will report to the rookie level Gulf Coast League, according the Cardinals. That is an unusually low level of play for a player of his skill and experience. The AP later reported Cox has been assigned to A-Advanced Palm Beach instead, but a Cardinals official confirms Cox will initially suit up in the GCL. The Post-Dispatch explains the GCL move is designed to avoid using one of Cox' option years in 2010.
ESPN’s Keith Law reports Swagerty’s deal is for $625,000, but the team itself does not announce or confirm bonus amounts. Swagerty has been assigned to Batavia of the short-season Class A New York-Penn League and will become a starter.
Including supplemental first round selections Tyrell Jenkins ($1,300,000) and Seth Blair ($750,000+) signed previously, the Cardinals organization committed just under $5,900,000 to their top four 2010 draftees.
"We are very excited to welcome these two exciting young players to the organization," said Cardinals Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak. "Obviously, signing a player (Cox) to a big league contract was important to get this deal completed."
Cox, 21, led the University of Arkansas Razorbacks with a .429 batting average (102-for-238), collecting 14 doubles, nine home runs and 48 RBIs in 59 games this season. The 6-foot-0, 215-pound sophomore was the starting third baseman at Arkansas in both of his seasons after graduating from Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Kentucky.
"Cox had a terrific year at Arkansas. We are excited to see him in a Cardinals uniform,” said Cardinals Vice President for Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow. “He's an infielder with potential to be an above average Major League player in the not too distant future."
The Louisville native went 5-for-11 (.455) with two doubles in the Tempe, Ariz. Super Regional against Arizona State in June, finishing the year with 102 hits and a .429 batting average - both Razorback single-season school records.
During his freshman campaign, the left-handed hitting Cox was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and NCBWA Second-Team Freshman All-American and was named to the SEC Tournament Team as a third baseman after batting .357.
Swagerty was drafted out of Arizona State University where he was a finalist for the 2010 Stopper of the Year Award, an award given to the top Division I relief pitcher. He will join ASU teammate Seth Blair, the team’s first round supplemental pick who signed with St. Louis last month, as a member of the Cardinals organization.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound sophomore finished the year with a 2.19 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched and he set the ASU single-season saves record with 14 while earning First Team All-Pac 10 honors.
Swagerty, who also caught periodically for the Sun Devils, batted .352 (19-for-54) this season. He was a prep standout at Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas.
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