Top Cardinals draft pick signs contract

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Michael Wacha, the St. Louis Cardinals' top pick in the draft, visited Busch Stadium after he signed his contract earlier Thursday.

The right-pitcher from Texas A&M was the No. 19 overall pick in the draft. Wacha was taken with the pick the Cardinals earned as compensation from the Angels for the free-agent departure of Albert Pujols over the winter.

The 6-foot-6, 200-pound Wacha flew Wednesday to St. Louis. He took his physical and passed the medical exams before he signed his contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The 20-year-old recently completed his junior season at Texas A&M. He finished with a 9-1 record and a 2.06 ERA. He struck out 116 in 113 1-3 innings.

St. Louis scouting director Dan Kantrovitz escorted Wacha and his parents around the dugout and the field.

"It's a special day for the Cardinals and a special day for the Wacha family," Kantrovitz said. "We're thrilled to have him on board. He signed his contract earlier today.

"He's going to get down to Palm Beach in a few days and get his feet wet in the (Gulf Coast League). After making a start or two, then he's going to head over across the complex to our High A affiliate and make his debut there."

Standing on the field at Busch before Thursday's interleague game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago White Sox, Wacha said it had been an "unbelievable" day for him.

"Being here inside Busch Stadium, it's something I've never even dreamed of," Wacha said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have no words for it."

Wacha said there was no need to delay signing. The final deadline for signing is July 13.

"I figured I might as get out there early and start throwing," Wacha said. "With everything slotted, there's really no negotiating. I want to start working my way up."

The most innings he has thrown is 140 so Wacha said he believes he can pitch some more this summer.

"I think they'll want me to get up there to that number or even past it," Wacha said. "My arm feels strong. I feel ready to throw."

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