NEW YORK — The text message Randy Flores, Cardinals director of amateur scouting, received from second-round pick Trejyn Fletcher was short: “I can’t wait to get to work.” And then came the request to hit in the cages at Jupiter, Fla.
Flores suggested the 18-year-old outfielder sign his contract first.
“They’re up early. They’re grinding here early,” Flores said from the Jupiter complex on Thursday afternoon. “In the Florida summer heat. They seem wired from the start to get going.”
On Thursday morning, Fletcher’s first as a professional ballplayer, the 18-year-old center fielder reported to the team’s spring training facility and got to work in the cages along with fellow high school pick Patrick Romeri, the 12th-round selection.
Fletcher and the Cardinals finalized a deal for a $1.5-million bonus, about $300,000 above slot. According to sources, the Cardinals saved bonus space to overbid on Fletcher by signing first-round pick Zack Thompson to a $3-million bonus, $360,000 less than the assigned slot value.
The Cardinals similarly saved cost for signing Romeri by getting 10th-round Jake Sommers for a $10,000 bonus, $133,000 less than his assigned slot.
With five of their top-10 picks signed the Cardinals have committed an estimated $5.6 million of their $6.9-million purse. They have enough to cover bonuses for all of their remaining top-10 picks at their commissioner’s assigned bonus and still have some flexibility to go over or reach to sign later picks.
The only draft pick the Cardinals cannot yet negotiate with is Auburn lefty Jack Owen, the 21st-round pick and draft-eligible sophomore who is throwing for the Tigers in the College World Series.
“Watching this group here on the field for BP, seeing them take the field – today is Day 1,” Flores said. “Fresh start for them. All of them. This isn’t college ball. This isn’t high school. They’re now playing for the St. Lois Cardinals. The pace of their development is in their hands.”