Cards draft young with multiple picks

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- After drafting college players almost exclusively last year, the St. Louis Cardinals took three high school players among their top six picks on Tuesday.

Colby Rasmus, 18, a center fielder at Russell County High School in Phenix City, Ala., was the 28th overall pick. Right-handed pitcher Tyler Herron, 18, from Wellington Community High School in Florida, was the 46th overall pick and the team's fourth selection.

With their sixth pick, the 70th overall, they took right-handed pitcher Josh Wilson from Whitehouse High School in Tyler, Texas.

"It's an opportunity to really infuse youth into the system, and I think it's going to pay off," said Jeff Luhnow, vice president of player procurement. "We'll look back at this draft and think about it as the point in time when we really got young in the minor league system."

Of the team's 47 selections last year in the two-day draft, all but four were college players.

The Cardinals this year had seven picks in the top 80, including two first-rounders for the first time since 2000 and two sandwich picks after the first round for losing shortstop Edgar Renteria and Mike Matheny to free agency. That allowed the team to take chances with more unproven, raw talent.

Rasmus broke Bo Jackson's state high school record with 23 home runs, played in the Little League World Series, and led his high school team to a state title. The 6-2, 183-pound Rasmus was ranked the 30th best prospect by Baseball America. He batted .484 with 24 home runs, 66 RBIs and 19 steals.

"There's nothing this kid can't do," Luhnow said. "Obviously we're going to have to have some patience, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of these players move at record pace."

St. Louis also took Tyler Greene, 21, a junior shortstop at Georgia Tech who was MVP of the SEC tournament. Greene, a member of Team USA in 2003, was batting .373 with 12 homers and 72 RBIs while being slowed by a broken jaw.

Right-hander Mark McCormick of Baylor, the team's first supplemental pick and the 43rd overall selection, has had his fastball timed at 100 mph. Herron, the second supplemental pick, had an 0.54 ERA his senior year in high school with 87 strikeouts in 63 innings.

In the second round, the Cardinals took two more right-handed pitchers, one from high school and one from college. Wilson had a 1.95 ERA as a senior in high school with 86 strikeouts in 61 innings, and Nick Webber of Central Missouri State was 3-0 with an 0.49 ERA and nine saves.

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