Top Picks Perez and Jay Sign

As expected, the Cardinals announced Friday that they have reached agreement on contracts with two of their first four selections in the 2006 draft, pitcher Chris Perez and outfielder Jon Jay, teammates from the University of Miami.

The newest Cardinals are pitcher Chris Perez, a first-round sandwich pick, who was the 42nd player selected overall and outfielder Jonathan Jay, taken at 74th overall with the second of St. Louis' two second-round picks in this month's First Year Player Draft.

For their first taste of professional play, both players have been assigned and have reported to the Quad Cities Swing of the Single-A Midwest League.

Perez spot was awarded to the Cardinals as a supplemental selection at the conclusion of the initial round of the First-Year Player Draft. The right-handed reliever became as part of the Cardinals' compensation for free agent Matt Morris signing with the San Francisco Giants last winter.

Projected to be a fast-riser once he gets some experience in the Cardinals organization, Perez posted a 1.74 ERA and 12 saves this season as the closer for one of the nation's premier college programs and led his team an appearance in the College World Series.

To listen to my conversation with Perez earlier this month, click on the link here.

University of Miami's centerfielder Jon Jay was taken by the Cardinals with their own (second) selection in the second round of the First-Year Player Draft. The 5'-11", 200 pound left-hander has proven to be solid hitter with line drive power and a smart baserunner who can steal a base.

Some scouts worry about Jay's size and lack of power potential, but he can hit for average, having batted .347 this, his junior season, and .408 as a sophomore for the Hurricanes.

I spoke with Jay after the draft, during the College World Series this month. Click here to listen to that interview.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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