Cards' first-rounder Kaminsky signs, doesn't expect stature to be impediment

News-DemocratJune 18, 2013 

— Left-hander Rob Kaminsky isn't like many other pitchers the St. Louis Cardinals have drafted in the first round.

Kaminsky is just 6-foot, 190 pounds, a far cry from former first-rounders Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha.

"I've been getting told I can't get people out because I'm 6 foot," Kaminsky said. "But like I've said before in previous interviews, I don't think you have to be a certain height to get people out. Until I stop getting people out, I don't care how tall I am, to be honest."

Kaminsky, the 28th overall pick June 6, signed Tuesday after passing his physical. He received slot-value money from the Cardinals, a package worth $1,785,300.

Kaminsky, who had committed to North Carolina, was compensation from the Milwaukee Brewers for their signing of free-agent right-hander Kyle Lohse. He will be assigned to the Gulf Coast League Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., where he will be a starter.

"I grew up a Yankees fan, but that switched real quick June 6," Kaminsky said. "My whole family has switched over, and we can't wait to get started with the Cardinals."

Dan Kantrovitz, the Cardinals' scouting director, said Kaminsky will be handled with care.

"I'm sure they'll be cognizant of his pitch counts and his innings and limit that," Kantrovitz said, referring to Gulf Coast League Cardinals manager Steve Turco and pitching coach Darwin Marrero. "I don't think he'll be throwing too many complete games right off the bat. But we view him as a starter, so it makes sense to run him out there from the beginning as that."

Kaminsky, 18, has no timetable for his arrival in St. Louis.

"That's up to the Cardinals," he said. "I'm not going to say anything; I'm not going to try to guess where I'm going to be next year at this time. I'm just going to wait and see what happens and play my best ball. Hopefully, I'll get called up when the time's fitting."

Kaminsky said he had his heart set on attending North Carolina until the Cardinals made their pitch.

"It was tough," he said. "I liked North Carolina, but my parents always said one thing supersedes a college education at that institution, and that was playing professional baseball. I kind of knew for a long time that I wanted to play, and when the dream became reality, I couldn't pass it up.

"Just the opportunity to throw for the Cardinals, that's hard to pass up and I couldn't do it. My mom is big on academics; I mean, we all are. But you can't pass up an opportunity like this."

Kaminsky was 9-0 for St. Joseph's Regional High School in Montvale, N.J. He walked five and struck out 118 in 58 innings, showing a mid-90s fastball and a curveball that the Cardinals considered to be the best of any high-school pitcher in the draft.

"That's a funny story," Kaminsky said of the origins of his curveball. "I was playing center field the first game (of a doubleheader) and the second game I was pitching. This was when I was 13, 14.

"My hitting coach says, 'Try this grip. It's a spike curveball.' Ever since, it just clicked. That's probably my best pitch right now."

Kaminsky can throw it on any count.

"I think that's why it's my best pitch --because I have all the confidence in the world in it," Kaminsky said. "I'm starting to develop my changeup just as good. It's creeping up on my curveball. Hopefully, they both keep getting better."

Kaminsky was the second left-hander selected by the Cardinals on the first day of the draft. He followed Gonzaga's Marco Gonzales, who is in St. Louis and is expected to sign Wednesday.

"Marco is unbelievable. He's fun to watch," Kaminsky said. "I've watched him and studied him, to be honest. We're similar. I think the Cardinals made two great picks and hopefully everything pans out."

The Cardinals on Tuesday also signed eight other players, including eighth-round pick Andrew Pierce, a 6-3, 165-pound right-hander from Southern Mississippi.

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665.

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