Cardinals sign first-round pick, 3B Zack Cox -

Cardinals sign first-round pick, 3B Zack Cox

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals went down to the wire before signing third baseman Zack Cox, their first-round draft pick, to a $3.2 million, four-year contract. They insist they did not overpay.

"I think the deadline forces everybody to really do a gut check on what's their best offer, or what's their bottom line, what they'll accept," scouting director Jeff Luhnow said. "Those last few minutes were nerve-racking for all clubs, I'm sure."

Second-round pick Jordan Swagerty, a right-handed pitcher from Arizona State, also agreed to terms late Monday night.

Cox, the 25th overall selection, will report to rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League. Swagerty, the 75th player taken in the June draft, will begin his career at Class-A Batavia, and the plan calls for both to play in the Arizona Fall League.

"I think this draft is a big signal of the organization's commitment to building for the future and building around our own players," Luhnow said. "It's quite a big investment made in these players and our scouts did a heck of a job identifying the types of guys that would be a good fit for us."

The 21-year-old Cox, of Louisville, Ky., set University of Arkansas records with a .429 batting average and 102 hits last season. He had nine home runs, 48 RBIs and 14 doubles in 59 games. The 6-foot, 215-pound sophomore was the Razorbacks' starting third baseman during both seasons in college and was 5 for 11 with two doubles in the Tempe, Ariz., Super Regional against Arizona State in June.

He receives a $2 million signing bonus, payable in $400,000 installments Oct. 31 and Dec. 15 of this year, and Dec. 15 in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Cox gets a $200,000 salary this year, which will not be prorated. In 2011, he receives $200,000 if in the minors and the minimum if in the majors. His salary rises to $350,000 in the minors in 2012 or the major league minimum.

In 2013, he gets $450,000 in the minors and the higher of $450,000 or the minimum in the majors.

Luhnow said Cox had leverage because he was a draft-eligible sophomore, and the Cardinals didn't mind because they don't believe he'll take long to get to the majors.

"We didn't give it away willy nilly. It was definitely part of the calculation. We haven't done that in the prior drafts, but this is one where we felt it was worthy investing it," Luhnow said.

Swagerty was a finalist for the 2010 Stopper of the Year given to the top Division I reliever. The 6-1, 170-pound sophomore had a 2.19 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 37 innings and set a school record with 14 saves.

Swagerty, of Sachse, Texas, also caught periodically and batted .352.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Powered by Frankly