Cardinals ink two hurlers to free agent deals

The St. Louis Cardinals have augmented their 2012 draft class with a pair of non-drafted free agent pitchers.

With a 40-round draft in 2012, down from 50 rounds in past years, the St. Louis Cardinals have looked to the free agent market to augment the lowest level of their US-based minor league system.

The organization has signed two non-drafted pitchers to free agent contracts and assigned them to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Cardinals. The 2012 GCL Cards season gets underway on Monday, June 18 in Jupiter, Florida.

Josh Renfro, 22, was a senior at the College of Charleston this spring. The left-hander came into 2012 as a preseason All-Southern Conference selection. In his two-year Cougar career, Renfro posted a record of 15-11 with a 3.56 ERA. He recorded 150 strikeouts against just 41 walks.

The 6-foot, 182-pound native of Bradenton, Florida transferred to College of Charleston after two years at Manatee Community College (Fla.).

Liberty, Mo. native Chris Thomas also joins the Cardinals organization. This spring, the 24-year-old was a senior at Avila University in Kansas City, a member of the NAIA Heart of America Athletic Association.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder finished 12-2 this season with a 1.53 ERA. Thomas yielded only 56 hits while collecting 121 strikeouts in 94 innings. That ranked him in the top five in the NAIA in wins, hits allowed per nine innings, opponent batting average, and ERA. He also placed in the top ten in total hits allowed, strikeouts, and total runs allowed.

Following the season, Thomas was named to the NAIA All-America first team and became a two-time Heart of America Conference Pitcher of the Year.

Prior to his junior year, Thomas had transferred to Avila from Maple Woods Community College, where he had been an NJCAA All-American.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2012 The Cardinal Nation, and All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories