Cardinals sign first-rounder Ramsey
Collegiate outfielder headed to Class A Palm Beach
ST. LOUIS -- Eight days after his Florida State University team was eliminated from the College World Series, outfielder James Ramsey donned a Cardinals jersey and took swings during batting practice at Busch Stadium.
It all happened on Friday, the same day Ramsey signed a contract that ensures the No. 23 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft a $1.6 million signing bonus.
With Ramsey having agreed to terms, the Cardinals have 33 of their 44 Draft picks signed. That includes each of the team's first seven selections and 12 of the 14 players the club selected in the first 10 rounds.
The two in that group who have not yet signed -- Alejandro Mejia (fourth round) and Kurt Heyer (sixth round) -- just wrapped up CWS play with Arizona on Monday.
A four-year player at FSU, Ramsey will head back to Florida this weekend, where he will join the Cardinals' high Class A affiliate in Palm Beach.
"Obviously, I was going to go and be happy wherever the Cardinals placed me," Ramsey said. "But I felt like in talks with a lot of scouts over the course of the last year, I felt like I would be a fast-track guy. Being in the Florida State League is great. It's going to be something that's comfortable to me."
Though Major League Baseball's recommended slot for the 23rd overall pick is $1.775 million, the fact that Ramsey's bonus fell at $1.6 million was a surprise to many, who thought his status as an outgoing senior would hurt him in his negotiations.
Unlike juniors who are drafted, Ramsey didn't have the leverage of returning to play another college season. His signing bonus represents the fifth highest ever handed out to a college senior.
"My career has never necessarily been conventional," said Ramsey, who went back to FSU after being a 22nd-round pick by the Twins in 2011. "People told me I was crazy for turning down the money I turned down last year. People told me it wasn't a very worldly, smart decision. I'm a finance guy. I know the implications of that. But I like having a bull's eye on my back. I feel like I excel in those situations, and a lot of people were impressed that I did come back and got better after turning down the money last year."
After turning down the guaranteed money, Ramsey started all 67 FSU games this spring. He hit .378 with 78 runs scored, 13 doubles, six triples, 13 home runs, 11 stolen bases and 58 RBIs.
He played center field -- which is where the Cardinals will play him in Palm Beach -- and hit mostly in the third spot in the FSU lineup. While Ramsey may fit in the same spot in the batting order initially, the Cardinals envision him eventually moving up toward the top of the lineup.
That would likely open up more opportunities for Ramsey to steal, too, which is the area Ramsey said he is especially eager to improve in.
As for defining his strength right now, Ramsey pointed to what is often considered baseball's sixth tool: makeup.
"The maturity is there," Ramsey said. "The confidence is there. Consistency is a part of the game. I'm always hungry, always a student of the game. I'm watching these guys go about their game because I want to be in their shoes really soon."
The Cardinals have until 10:59 p.m. CT on July 13 to agree to terms with other unsigned players. Ramsey's bonus brings the Cardinals approximately $100,000 away from the $9.1311 million bonus pool they were allotted by MLB.
All money given to players taken in the first 10 rounds of the Draft, as well as any amount over $100,000 given to a player selected in a later round, counts against that pool. The Cardinals do have the flexibility to go as much as 5 percent over that $9.1311 million without being penalized a future Draft pick. Any overage between 0-5 percent is, however, subject to a tax.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.