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Righty Mayers elated to join Cards' organization

Club focuses on pitching on Day 2, starting with Mississippi product

Mike Mayers was in the ninth box, shooting 3-over-par, when he got the call.

"My golf game wasn't too great after that," Mayers said, his mind preoccupied with his future as the Cardinals' third-round Draft pick. He had taken to the golf course to avoid driving himself, or his family, crazy in anticipation.

Mayers, pronounced like "Meyers," went undrafted out of Grove City (Ohio) High School in 2010, but the right-handed pitcher showed steady improvement in three years at Mississippi -- enough to persuade the Cardinals to take him with the 93rd overall pick, their first selection on Day 2 of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

"It's a pretty amazing experience to be 21 years old and still be living the same dream you've had your whole life," Mayers said. "Just to be drafted by such a great organization, an organization that's respected all around baseball, it's definitely a huge honor."

Mayers isn't a stranger to the Cardinals. He met fellow Ole Miss product Lance Lynn, now a starter for St. Louis, when Lynn worked out in Oxford, Miss., before Spring Training this year.

"I'm excited to not only learn from him and guys like him, but the entire organization," Mayers said. "Every year, it seems like they turn out another great pitcher after great pitcher."

In his first season with the Rebels, he finished with a 5.10 ERA, then last year he had a 3.50 ERA. His junior season, he lowered his ERA even further to 2.98, but an injury forced him to only make 10 starts. A three-sport athlete growing up, Mayers credits his impressive strides to the opportunity to focus on baseball alone at Mississippi.

Mayers also boosted his stock with a solid summer in the Cape Cod League, where he allowed 15 earned runs on 28 hits and seven walks while striking out 42 in 28 innings with the Bourne Braves last year.

He relies on his feel for the craft more than overpowering stuff, and scouts see him as a future Major League starter.

"At Ole Miss you spend a lot of time with Coach [Mike] Bianco working on how to pitch and not necessarily just to throw hard," Mayers said. "It's really taken my game to the next level."

Mayers combines his low-90s fastball with a slider and changeup, which has plus potential. He struck out 141 batters in college.

"I can move my fastball in and out of the zone and kind of use that to set up my offspeed pitches," Mayers said, adding that his changeup is his favorite to throw. "It's fun to sit up there and play with. If you throw a fastball in and you throw a changeup, they think they're on it and it just baffles them."

He has good command of all three of his pitches. Without swing-and-miss stuff, Mayers will have to continue to refine his control in the Minors. He earns high marks for his makeup and poise on the mound.

"He's got a strong track record on top of it and we think he's got really solid pitchability," said scouting director Dan Kantrovitz. "And there's more left in the tank. Maybe in a couple years, he's throwing mid-90s. He's a guy that we're pretty excited about."

With eight pitchers debuting on the Cardinals big league roster this season, St. Louis continued to reload its Minor League ranks with another five hurlers -- in addition to three infielders -- on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft.

"We saw an opportunity to make a run at some pitchers that we really liked that were available at the price we liked and we just tried to take advantage of it," Kantrovitz said. "I think going in, we didn't really plan on picking that many pitchers but the opportunity and the price presented itself and we capitalized on it."

After an aggressive Day 1, Kantrovitz said aside from a few calculated risks and gambles, the Cardinals took a more cost-conscious approach to Day 2, hoping to maintain some flexibility heading into rounds 11-40 on Saturday.

Kantrovitz said the Cardinals are operating close to the $6.9079 million allotted for their first 11 picks. Clubs that spend beyond that will be taxed, and if it's more than 5 percent, the penalty is future picks.

"We needed to be cautious in a couple instances that we didn't overstep the boundaries there," Kantrovitz said. "We certainly don't want to lose a pick next year. We're pretty close to it, but having said that, I think we're also going to have some surprising flexibility tomorrow."

Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for
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