ST. LOUIS (AP) -- St. Louis is expecting big things from sophomore University of Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox, who the Cardinals selected 25th overall in Monday's draft. And they're expecting them in a hurry.
"This kid is probably going to be a fast mover though the minor leagues," said Jeff Luhnow, the Cardinals' Vice President of Scouting and Player Development. "His bat is pretty close to being big-league ready."
Cox is hitting .427 with nine homers and 48 RBIs for the Razorbacks, who beat Washington State 7-2 in Monday's Fayetteville Regional championship game.
The 21-year-old was taken out after the third inning with a rib cage injury but says it's not serious.
"It just needs time to heal," Cox said. "I really don't have much time to heal, so I've got to play through it."
Arkansas advanced to a weekend super regional against top-seeded Arizona State, which features another Cardinals' pick: Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year Seth Blair.
St. Louis has kept a close eye on Cox during the last few years.
"We've been following him since he was in high school in Kentucky," Luhnow said.
Cox was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 20th round out of Pleasure Ridge Park high school two years ago, but turned down an $800,000 signing offer and chose to go to college.
He is considered one of the top sophomore players in the country. He hit .266 as a freshman on an Arkansas squad that reached the NCAA College World Series last season. The 6-foot, 215-pounder batted .344 in the Cape Cod Summer League and has played a key role in the Razorbacks' success this spring.
"We're thrilled to have this guy," Luhnow said. "He puts everything he has into the game and it shows."
The Cardinals selected the righthanded Blair with the 46th overall pick in the supplemental portion of the draft. Blair is 12-0 with a 3.06 ERA for the Sun Devils.
"He has some of the best breaking pitches in the draft," Luhnow said.
St. Louis also chose Tyrell Jenkins, a righthanded pitcher from Henderson (Texas) High School. Jenkins is a multi-sport athlete who also is the top quarterback recruit at Baylor University.
"He's a physical specimen, a tremendous athlete," Luhnow said. "He's a pretty exciting talent. The sky is the limit for this guy. He can do everything."
Luhnow said team officials ranked all three Cardinals' selections among the Top 25 in the draft.
"I'm more than delighted," Luhnow said. "We got three guys that we had in contention for our first pick."
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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