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Prep star Rivera gives Cards plenty of versatility

Chris Rivera wasn't in the Cardinals' original plans.

It initially appeared that the Fullerton, Calif., prospect was uninterested in signing with a club out of high school, but recently the Cardinals got word from area scout Mike Garciaparra that Rivera's mind had changed. St. Louis selected him in the seventh round, No. 215 overall.

"That wasn't really part of the initial plan, but we felt that it's at a good point to deviate and take what we feel like is a high-ceiling baseball player that has the ability to play a few different positions," said scouting director Dan Kantrovitz.

Rivera, a top talent at El Dorado (Calif.) High School, became "famous" early, playing for USA Baseball's 14 and under team at age 12. He has a simple approach at the plate with a quick, short stroke with gap power, making hard contact to all fields, particularly with fastballs, when he's swinging the bat well. He's a fringy average runner with instincts that allow him to play up on the basepaths; however, with good range and a strong arm, his calling card is his defense.

Kantrovitz called Rivera one of the most versatile prospects they scouted for this Draft, adding that he projects best as a shortstop, but has developed as a catcher and can throw 94 mph from the mound.

"He's got a lot of different tools that we can work with," Kantrovitz said. "It's a pretty exciting package."

Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for
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