ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. • With a bonus purse that exceeded any other National League playoff team from last season, the Cardinals intended to use that financial edge to reach for some young talents, even if their price exceeded the suggested bonus.
Monday could prove a sign of things to come.
The Cardinals had agreements in place with their first three picks from last week’s draft, including their second pick, righthanded pitcher Jack Flaherty, a California prep star who had a commitment to North Carolina. The Cardinals and Flaherty agreed on a bonus that is “over slot,” or beyond the $1.65 million suggested for the 34th pick by the commissioner’s office.
The Cardinals also have agreements with 27th overall pick Luke Weaver and 68th overall pick Ronnie Williams. A source with direct knowledge of the agreements confirmed the pending deals.
The contracts with the three righthanded pitchers won’t be announced by the club until the players pass physicals. Those are required to finalize any agreements, and club policy is not to comment until the physicals are done. Those could happen as soon as early next week.
Flaherty, 18, pitched a no-hitter in his only playoff start this past spring, and that came at the end of a 10-0 high school season with a 0.69 ERA for Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City, Calif. The 6-foot-3, 217-pound righty first attracted the Cardinals as a third baseman, but a feel for four pitches and potentially higher velocity turned him into a first-round pitching prospect. He had leverage for a higher bonus because of his commitment to UNC and the perception he would only improve his stock.
It’s expected that he’ll receive a bonus of $2 million.
The Cardinals have a total bonus purse of $7.1 million, though they have been willing to pay the cash penalty for eclipsing that cap each of the past two drafts. The suggested slot for the 27th pick is $1.8 million and the suggested slot for No. 68 is $833,900.
Both Weaver and Williams agreed to deals for bonus at the suggested slots. That leaves the Cardinals with some creative financing for other picks to accommodate the bump required to sign Flaherty.
Weaver, 20, went 8-4 with a 2.62 ERA for Florida State. The 27th overall pick fits the mold of the Cardinals’ previous two first picks, Texas A&M’s Michael Wacha and Gonzaga’s Marco Gonzales, from 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Williams, 18, is a power righty with the athletic traits and raw heat that the Cardinals look for in amateurs. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound righty was 8-2 with a 0.97 ERA for American Senior High in Hialeah, Fla.