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Cardinals' Draft strategy paying off so far

OAKLAND -- A little more than three weeks removed from the First-Year Player Draft and two weeks ahead of the signing deadline, the Cardinals are nearing the end of all their Draft-related negotiations.

In reaching an agreement with 33rd-round pick Nicholas Frey on Friday, the Cardinals have now locked up 37 of their 41 Draft selections. That includes every pick taken from rounds one through 28.

"In general, we're really pleased with the outcome," scouting director Dan Kantrovitz said. "We went in with a strategy and executed the strategy and we're getting guys out and playing quickly. That was one of our goals. We wanted to have a Draft that was a combination of some advanced proven performers with some younger, higher-upside, higher-risk guys with a healthy mix of players that play premium positions."

For the second straight year, the Cardinals employed a strategy in which they went over their Draft money pool ($6.9079 million) in order to aggressively go after a handful of elite high school players that had seemingly strong college commitments. The Cardinals saved pool money by signing eight of their first 11 picks for under slot value.

That allowed the organization the flexibility to sign shortstops Oscar Mercado (second round) and Malik Collymore (10th round) to above-slot bonuses. The savings also helped the Cardinals offset the overage incurred in signing three later-round picks -- Steven Farinaro (11th round) Ricardo Bautista (12th round) and DeAndre Asbury (15th round) -- for more than $100,000. Any bonus given to a player after the 10th round that is in excess of $100,000 counts against the organization's pool of money.

In giving Farinaro a signing bonus of $750,000 last week, the Cardinals finish with $7.2324 million in signing bonuses that count against their money pool. Though that total is more than their allocated amount, because it is under a five-percent overage threshold, the organization will incur only a tax on the excess money spent. Going over their pool by more than five percent would have cost the Cardinals a future Draft pick.

"Looking through the lens of trying to maximize our pool, we thought this was the way to maximize it," Kantrovitz said. "I think it'll hold true in future years, as well. Having said that, I think we'll always want to sign as many players as we draft as possible. If we ended up 41-for-41 in signings, we might have looked back and said we could have taken a few more risks. If we end up just short of that, I think we'll see we went in with an appropriate risk strategy and we didn't leave anything untapped."

The Cardinals are still in discussions with 30th-rounder Trey Nielson, who, like Frey, recently underwent Tommy John surgery. Calvin Munson (31st round) has told the organization that he will attend San Diego State University on a football scholarship this fall. Bryan Radziewksi (29th round) has informed the organization that he's likely to return to school. And the Cardinals do not expect to sign 37th-round pick Alan Kruzel.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.
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