St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals come to terms with top draft pick

Scott Hurst, an outfielder out of Cal State Fullerton, was the third round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2017 MLB Draft. The team announced it had signed the left-handed hitter Wednesday.
Scott Hurst, an outfielder out of Cal State Fullerton, was the third round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2017 MLB Draft. The team announced it had signed the left-handed hitter Wednesday. Cal State Fullerton Athletics

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed their top pick from this year’s first-year player draft, the team announced Wednesday.

Scott Hurst, an outfielder from Cal State Fullerton, was taken by St. Louis in the third round with the 94th overall pick.

His draft stock rose during his breakout junior season, which included a four-home run, seven-RBI day in a win over Cal State Northridge. The 5-foot-10 left-handed hitter batted .332 with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs. He also posted an on-base percentage of .424.

“Any time you get somebody with his tool package at that spot in the draft, who has performed and can do it on both sides of the ball, that makes someone very interesting,” said Randy Flores, the Cardinals’ director of scouting. “He plays for a program that does very well historically and was selected for some of the all-star showcases. That typically doesn’t go to someone unless they have a tool set to begin with.

“We believe there is some power there, that he’s got range and we believe we had to take him in that spot in draft.”

This was the first year since 2002 that the Cardinals didn’t have a pick in the first round of the draft.

St. Louis lost a compensatory pick to the Chicago Cubs at No. 30 overall due to its free-agent signing of outfielder Dexter Fowler. The club also lost its second-round pick as part of the sanctions levied against it for the hacking of the Houston Astros player development data base.

Our hope is that his adjustments and his better days are just beginning. He can be one of those types of players who continues to develop after his college career is done.

Randy Flores, Cardinals director of scouting

Without their top two picks, the Cardinals allotted bonus pool was the lowest among the 30 big league teams by far.

“You’re going to be outgunned at most every turn. Even when you’re trying to find what guy might be available at what price, all it takes is one other person with a bigger gun to make that strategy a moot point,” Flores said of the Cardinals’ draft-day strategy. “It was a balancing act of finding the right fit, looking at the teams ahead and looking who was on our board.

“I don’t think in any year you take signability lightly, but certainly the margin of error was much smaller this year.”

Baseball American rated Hurst the 28th-best outfielder available in the draft and No. 152 overall, which suggests he was a reach at the 94th spot of the draft.

But the Cardinals signed Hurst for $455,000, well below the slot value of $570,900 for the 94th overall pick.

Under the circumstances, Flores said he believes the Cardinals scored a bargain in Hurst.

“Our hope is that his adjustments and his better days are just beginning,” Flores said. “He can be one of those types of players who continues to develop after his college career is done.”

You’re going to be outgunned at most every turn. Even when you’re trying to find what guy might be available at what price, all it takes is one other person with a bigger gun to make that strategy a moot point.

Randy Flores

Other draft pick signings announced Wednesday include Hurst’s college teammate, Taylor Bryant, a second baseman taken in the 33rd round, Torrance High School right-handed pitcher Alex Gallegos, a 35th rounder.

St. Louis has now has signed 29 of its 27 picks, including five of its top 10.

The Cardinals also announced the free-agent signing of Austin Warner, a 22-year-old pitcher from the River City Rascals of the independent Frontier League. According to the Frontier League web site, there are 32 league alumni who have reached the major leagues, 27 of of which are pitchers.

Sports Editor Todd Eschman: 618-239-2540, @tceschman

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