The first part of the process ended Wednesday with the completion of 40 rounds in Major League Baseball's first-year player draft. The second part already has begun as the Cardinals have reached agreement with one of their first-day selections and are close to another.
St. Mary's University third baseman Patrick Wisdom, the 52nd player taken, has agreed to terms, said scouting director Dan Kantrovitz,, and probably is headed to Batavia (N.Y.) for short-season play. Wisdom, an excellent defender with power, batted just .262 in college this year but swatted nine homers.
Texas high school catcher Steve Bean, like Wisdom, a supplemental first-round pick on Monday, is close to agreement.
Of the three other first-round and supplemental picks the Cardinals had on the first day, two of them — Stanford outfielder-third baseman Stephen Piscotty and Florida State outfielder James Ramsey — will be opposing each other in an NCAA super regional in Tallahassee, Fla., this weekend.
They can't be signed until their collegiate careers are over.
But Kantrovitz said the Cardinals are eager to sign their top pick, Texas A&M righthander Michael Wacha, whose season is finished.
Kantrovitz said he hoped that would be soon but, as to where — or how much — Wacha would pitch is open to question.
"He's thrown over 110 innings this season in college," said Kantrovitz, "and we're going to have to figure out how to utilize him this summer. We definitely don't want to put too much of a workload on him."
Kantrovitz said if Wacha's load would be lightened, he might even relieve at the start of his pro career.
If signed, Wacha probably would head to the pitching-oriented Florida State League and play initially for Palm Beach.
The pick to keep an eye is the Cardinals' second-round choice, Carson Kelly, a highly touted high school third baseman (he also pitches) from Westview, Ore.
Kantrovitz said the Cardinals have 'some work to do," before the deadline of July 13, in getting Kelly signed.
But Kantrovitz said the Cardinals made him a target as they mulled how to spend their approximate $9.1 million in bonus money for the first 10 rounds, which was their allotment according to new guidelines in MLB's Basic Agreement.
Without naming names, Kantrovitz suggested the Cardinals had identified some players ahead of Kelly that they thought they would be able to sign quickly if the club drafted them. The agreements, or potential agreements, of Wisdom and Bean would seem to confirm that philosophy.
"Getting Carson where we did in the draft was exciting," Kantrovitz said. "Now we have to get him signed.
"But this could only be done if we allowed ourselves some flexibility at the top."
Kantrovitz said that money was a factor as every pick in the first 10 rounds was discussed and then made.
"It was a fluid, almost sensitive issue," he said. "We had to be aware what the (potential) surplus or deficit was on each pick."
This became more acute because the Cardinals, because of compensation picks for players lost, had five selections on the first night, rather than just one or two.
For rounds from 11 to 40, the MLB ceiling is no more than a $100,000 bonus for any pick although Kantrovitz said those could be adjusted depending on if there was any money left over from the first 10 rounds.
But exceeding MLB's stipulations would subject teams to fines and/or loss of draft picks.
Besides the MLB formula, though, Kantrovitz said the club had to adhere to its own budget.
"Our draft budget definitely is not unlimited," he said.
Even in rounds 11-40, Kantrovitz said spread sheets examined before every pick was made, notably to see if some extra money might be available above the $100,000 plateau for players who had tumbled unexpectedly into the 11th round or later.
The Cardinals made the final 25 rounds a family affair Wednesday.
Not only did they take manager Mike Matheny's son, Tate, in the 23rd round, but they chose infielder Eduardo Oquendo, son of third-base coach Jose Oquendo, in the 32nd round and righthander Michael Aldrete, son of Cardinals bench coach Mike Aldrete in the 39th round.
Additionally, they took junior college outfielder/first baseman Jacoby Almaraz, son of scouting cross-checker Joe Almaraz, in the 21st round.
Almaraz is expected to sign soon. And, in round 37, they took Derrrick May Jr., son of the Cardinals' minor-league hitting instructor. The younger May, a high school star in Delaware, is likely headed to Villanova
Relative to Aldrete and Oquendo, respectively, Kantrovitz said, "There were no favors there. I'm not sure whether they're going to continue playing at the college level. But they both deserved to be drafted."
The younger Aldrete is a junior pitcher at San Jose State and the elder Aldrete said Wednesday night in Houston, "It's a big deal for him, and it's a big deal for me. You want your best for your kid. You want to see him happy. You want to see him fulfill his dream.
"I know that this is his dream. But, it's kind of guarded just because I know a lot of things about this game that make me want to warn him. You follow your dream. He's going to make his way and as long as he's following his dream, I'm OK with that.
"The Cardinals contacted me and asked me about him and if I would have any problem with them drafting him. I would think (he's going to sign). He's just a semester away from graduating. "
The younger Oquendo completed his first year in junior college at Olney (Ill.) Central.
"It's nice of the Cardinals to do that," Jose Oquendo said. "He's still a young kid (19). He probably needs to go another year of college and we'll see where he is after that.
I would like him to look at his education, too. He needs some more of that.
"He has some talents. He's a good defensive player. He's still working on his offense. (The 5-foot-6 Oquendo hit .246 this year). This is good motivation to keep working and get better. I think he can."
The Cardinals took another local product, righthander Joe Scanio of Hazelwood West High and Northwestern (La.) State, in the 16th round.
Next up will be a camp next week for signed players in Jupiter, Fla., home of the Cardinals' spring training, before the new organizational players join their farm teams.
For Kantrovitz, conducting his first draft, and his scouts, the long days and nights of preparation and then the adrenaline rush for the last three days have taken their toll.
"We're really happy with the way things went," he said. "Now we all can go home and get some sleep."
(Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch staff contributed to this report).