ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals had five picks on the first day of the draft, partly thanks to Albert Pujols' free agent departure for the Angels. They loaded up on college talent.
The World Series champions took Texas A&M right-hander Michael Wacha with the 19th overall pick Monday night, and took three more college players before selecting Texas high school catcher Steve Bean with the 59th pick.
"It's an unbelievable feeling. Dreams do come true," Wacha said. "They have a proven history of success and I can't wait to get the ball rolling. I'm super excited."
Baseball America ranked Wacha's change-up the best of this year's class to go with an above-average fastball. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound Wacha was 9-1 with two shutouts and a 2.06 ERA as a college junior with 116 strikeouts in 113 1/3 innings.
Wacha entered draft day uncertain of the Cardinals' intentions.
"I knew there was some interest, but I wasn't really sure if they were going to take me or not," Wacha said.
Florida State center fielder James Ramsey, a 22-year-old senior, was taken with the 23rd overall pick. Ramsey is the ACC player of the year.
"Ramsey has off-the-charts makeup," Cardinals amateur scouting director Dan Kantrovitz said. "We targeted James as somebody we didn't want to miss."
The 6-foot, 190-pound Ramsey hits third and was batting .385 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs in 61 games.
"I may not be the sexiest prospect, I'm not 6-4 and 220 and run a 6.2 60," Ramsey said. "I feel like I have a blue-collar game. I do the things you kind of look at and realize, 'He has moxie.'"
With the 36th pick, and the second Pujols compensation selection, the Cardinals took Stanford third baseman Stephen Piscotty, who won the Cape Cod League batting title last summer.
They took another third baseman, Patrick Wisdom of St. Mary's, with the 52nd pick. The 59th pick came as compensation for pitcher Edwin Jackson. Bean is from Rockwall High School in Texas and had committed to Texas, but the Cardinals got a good feel after Bean participated in a workout at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis had five first-round picks for the first time since 1991. They last had multiple first-rounders in 2005, taking outfielder Colby Rasmus and infielder Tyler Greene.