St. Louis (Fox Sports Midwest) - The Cardinals have signed an MLB-best 37 selections from the recent Major League Baseball Draft in June. But now just one month away from the signing deadline, the Cardinals remain without agreements with their most important selections - their top four picks.
Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox is the headliner, a draft-eligible sophomore who some considered the best hitter in the draft. He was projected by some draft experts to go as high as No. 5 overall but fell to the Cardinals at No. 25 because of concerns over his asking price.
Asked if he was confident that the Cardinals and Cox would be able to meet in the middle on a contract before the August 16 deadline, Cardinals' vice president of scouting and player development Jeff Luhnow didn't seem overly enthused.
"No because our first selection was part available to us because of some desires that other clubs weren't willing to even consider," Luhnow said. "I think that one could be a lengthy process. …We knew that there was a disconnect between what most clubs probably had as a value and what the player was stating that he was wanting to come out as a sophomore, especially elite players at the top of the draft, so we'll just have to wait and see."
The Cardinals took Arizona State pitcher Seth Blair and Texas high school pitcher Tyrell Jenkins in the supplemental first round and another ASU pitcher, Jordan Swagerty, in the second round. Jenkins appears the next toughest to sign with a scholarship waiting for him to play football at Baylor, but both Blair and Swagerty and not expected to be tough signs.
"We're talking to all of them at this point," Luhnow said. "A few of them wanted some downtime after being in the College World Series and targeted the second half of July as a good time to reengage and see how they are doing. I'm hopeful that maybe even as soon as next week we may have some break but all of them, were actively discussing.
"A couple of guys that are unsigned, we could have in place before the deadline rush and then the rest of them will have to be sorted out on the 15th and 16th (of August)."
Another unsigned pick for the Cardinals is 12th round selection Austin Wilson, a highly-talented high school outfielder who most expected to be drafted in the first round. But with a baseball scholarship to Stanford waiting for him, he fell out of the top few rounds before the Cardinals had nothing to lose by taking a chance on him in the 12th round.
Wilson will undoubtedly want first round money despite being a first round pick, something that Luhnow said the night of the draft would make him "a long shot" to sign. But the Cardinals and Wilson have been talking both by phone and email and Luhnow feels better about the chances of signing him now than he did on draft night.
"Yes, I do think so," Luhnow said. "Because we are having a dialogue and anytime you are having a dialogue it means that there's a chance they wouldn't be wasting their time and we wouldn't be wasting ours either."
It still remains unlikely Wilson will forgo a chance to play at Stanford where his mother went to school, but the Cardinals remain hopeful they can change his mind before the deadline.
The Cardinals went up to the wire with last year's first round pick Shelby Miller, and they appear headed in that direction again.