Cardinals Sign Five of Top Eight Picks

The Cardinals announced the signing of five of their top eight picks from the 2005 Amateur Draft on Saturday.

Inked to contracts were were top pick Colby Rasmus (1st round, 28th overall), pitcher Tyler Herron (supplemental 1st round, 46th overall), pitcher Josh Wilson (2nd round, 70th overall), pitcher Nick Webber (2nd round, 78th overall) and catcher Bryan Anderson (4th round, 140th overall).

"We're extremely happy to get these players under contract and in a timely manner," Jeff Luhnow, the Cardinals vice president of player procurement, said in a statement. "They are exciting young players and we are anxious to start their development beginning this weekend at mini-camp in Jupiter, Fla."

Rasmus, 18, received a signing bonus of $1,000,000, according to Baseball America. He batted .484 and led the state of Alabama with 24 home runs as a senior, scoring 69 runs and driving in 66 in 39 games for Russell County (Ala.) High School. In a recent workout at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox, Rasmus was clocked at 94 mph throwing from centerfield. He also covers 60 yards in 6.7 seconds. Rasmus has been told that he will be sent to Johnson City after the mini-camp this weekend in Jupiter, Fla. for the Cardinals' draft picks.

"Rasmus is an exciting outfielder," Luhnow told "He's what scouts call a five-tool outfielder. He has a tremendously strong arm. He's a good fielder, plays center field and profiles at center field. He swings the bat well. He swings the bat with power. He runs well. There's really nothing this kid can't do."

Herron is believed to have gotten a signing bonus of about $700,000. The 18-year-old, out of Wellington (Fla.) Community High School, has touched 94 mph with his fastball and pitches comfortably at 90-91 while showing enough of a changeup to encourage scouts. His curveball at times has earned 70 grades from scouts on the 20-80 scale. Some scouts have compared him to Mike Mussina, according to Baseball America.

"Most people that see him are surprised that he's in high school because he can pitch to spots, he's got good offspeed pitches, he can do it all," Luhnow told on Tuesday. "He's got a changeup and he's got what scouts call pitchability."

Webber was the closer for Central Missouri State University and had a 1.06 ERA in 42-1/3 innings while striking out 45 and walking 12. He allowed only 20 hits while opponents hit only .139 against him. He has been told by the Cardinals that he will be converted to a starter and will begin his career at Johnson City.

"I don't have a lot of innings under me," Webber told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "so they want me to start for now and then they'll take it from there."

According to Baseball America, Webber had one of the best fastballs in the draft. It sits at 91-94 mph and touches 96, and it stands out even more with its outstanding life. One observer said it had "Wiffle ball movement" last summer in the Cape Cod League. Webber's second pitch is a decent slider, which he commands well but lacks a sharp break.

Anderson, whose parents were born and raised in St. Louis, is a huge fan of the Cardinals. A catcher out of Simi Valley (Calif.) High School, Anderson was rated as the 83rd best high school prospect coming into 2005 by Baseball America, but his offensive production fell off as he had little protection in the Simi Valley High lineup. Scouts say his throwing mechanics also regressed this spring—even as he threw out almost every basestealer. Anderson can swing the bat well enough if a position switch is in order, but his lack of speed may limit his options.

"Left-handed hitting catcher. He has bat potential, average arm, good defensive skills. He's only been catching a couple years. We think he's a potential offensive player," John Mozeliak, the Cardinals assistant General Manager, told on Tuesday.

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