ST. LOUIS -- It wasn't by design, Dan Kantrovitz said, that the Cardinals were to go right-hander heavy on Day 1 of the First-Year Player Draft. But with their selection of University of California-Irvine pitcher Andrew Morales as the team's fourth and final selection on Thursday, the Cardinals completed the first two Draft rounds by stockpiling all right-handed pitchers.

The last to join the bunch, Morales, will help the Cardinals save some of their bonus pool money, as the senior is not expected to command his slot-value of $796,100 in order to sign. Going with an easier sign was part of the Cardinals' plan, as they are aware that they will need to allocate extra financial resources to first-round pick Jack Flaherty in order to lure him from the University of North Carolina.

That being said, the Cardinals liked Morales for more than just signability reasons.

"Morales was somebody that was really at that top of our list of college performers," Kantrovitz said. "That really jived with what our scouts were telling us about his stuff. I don't think it could have really worked out any better in that sense."

The Cardinals were awarded the No. 71 overall pick by way of the Competitive Balance Lottery, a new wrinkle to the Draft added in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement. Morales followed Luke Weaver (No. 27), Flaherty (No. 34) and Ronnie Williams (No. 68) as the organization's Day 1 selections.

Morales is unique in that he had not been previously drafted out of high school or after his junior year in college. He has, however, been on the Cardinals' radar before.

"We checked in with him a little bit last year," Kantrovitz said. "We could see that as an undrafted player, there was possibly the potential to even make a run at him then. But we decided to let him play out his senior year. It's tough to have his performance and go unnoticed or undrafted as long as he did. But we're lucky that he held out."

Morales, 6-foot and 195 pounds, is 10-2 with a 1.64 ERA this season for a UC-Irvine team that is scheduled to start against Oklahoma State in a Super Regional game on Saturday. He has won 10 of his 17 starts and has 128 strikeouts this year, ranked fourth most nationally.

Morales was also recently named the All-Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year.

Before transferring to UC-Irvine, Morales played two seasons for Rio Hondo (Calif.) Community College, where he was named the 2012 Foothill Conference Player of the Year. He combined to go 21-1 with a 2.42 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 28 starts with Rio Hondo.

The Draft will continue on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at noon. The final 30 rounds will then take place on Saturday.

Cards draft FSU righty Weaver with first pick

Draft 2014: Cardinals draft RHP Luke Weaver No. 27

ST. LOUIS -- Luke Weaver had just celebrated his selection as the 27th overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft alongside family and friends when one among his company spotted the stained-glass frame perched in a nearby window.

Green ivy outlined the glass, which featured a red cardinal in center. Weaver hoisted it up in a flash of euphoria, the spur-of-the-moment gesture captured on video and subsequently dispersed through social media by a Florida State teammate. How fitting, as Weaver later told reporters on a conference call, that he had been hoping to land with the Cardinals.

"It was a weird coincidence and just seemed like it was meant to be, showing up in the window there," Weaver said of the glass frame. "It was a cool thing to have in that moment, hold it and show it off."

Weaver was the first of four right-handed pitchers the Cardinals selected on Day 1 of the three-day Draft. His selection also continued a trend, with the organization having selected advanced college pitchers -- Michael Wacha in 2012, Marco Gonzales in 2013 and now Weaver -- in the three Drafts under scouting director Dan Kantrovitz.

This time, the Cardinals went south to Florida State University to find that top pick.

"We targeted Weaver as one of the eight or so college players that we really liked and hoped would be available to us," Kantrovitz said. "Unlike some of the guys in the past years, it wasn't a total surprise that he was there [at No. 27], but it didn't take away from our excitement that he was. We were talking about his name nonstop for the hour before we took him in the hopes that he would be there."

That anticipation was shared by Weaver, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound pitcher who went 8-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 16 starts for the Seminoles this season.

"Believe it or not, this is the team that was No. 1 in my book," Weaver said. "I was sitting there dreaming for it to happen, and it happening is just a dream come true. And having my family and friends and support, man, my heart dropped to the ground. I was just so excited. This is something I'll never forget."

Kantrovitz hinted at the expectation of Weaver signing fairly quickly, though the Cardinals don't feel a need to overexpose him in the Minors this summer. Weaver has already thrown 106 1/3 innings this season. He struck out 85 and walked 23.

He was previously selected by the Blue Jays in the 19th round of the 2011 Draft. He opted to attend college instead of signing with Toronto, and that decision will pay off financially. The 27th overall pick comes with a bonus slot value of $1.843 million.

He is advised by Creative Artists Agency, the same group that has Wacha as a client. Through his agent and former teammate James Ramsey, a Cardinals first-rounder in 2012, Weaver said he has heard glowing things about the organization.

"He actually sent me a text and was so pumped for me," Weaver said of Ramsey.

In scouting Weaver, the Cardinals clocked his fastball velocity as high as 96 mph, though it sat consistently between 89-92 mph, Kantrovitz said. Weaver also features an above-average changeup -- another commonality with Wacha and Gonzales -- and has a breaking pitch.

"It's tough to have a good changeup as an amateur," Kantrovitz said. "You don't often see it, particularly at the high school level, but also at the college level. When we see a pitcher that has what we deem a plus changeup and then also has a solid breaking ball to go with it, we don't see too many things that a pitcher needs to add to his arsenal to be successful in pro ball."

After making six starts as a freshman at Florida State, Weaver had a breakout year for the Seminoles as a sophomore in 2013. He made 15 starts (17 appearances) for the Seminoles that season, posting a 7-2 record and 2.28 ERA in 98 1/3 innings. His 10.89 strikeouts-per-nine innings ranked 11th-best in the nation.

Weaver closed that season by earning Most Outstanding Player honors in the Tallahassee Regional after pitching Florida State to a shutout win over Troy (Ala.) while striking out 14 and allowing four hits in eight innings.

His final collegiate appearance this season came on Saturday, when Weaver suffered a loss to the University of Alabama. Weaver allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits and one walk in five innings as the Seminoles were knocked out of their regional.

"I had to pick up a bigger workload and go deeper into the game," Weaver said of his season. "Though the statistics aren't as pretty as the sophomore season and where I would have liked to have been at, I don't regret anything. It's made me more of an all-around better pitcher, and [I learned to] work to both sides of the plate. It's made me more into a mature human being and pitcher."

This was the latest the Cardinals have had to wait for their first Draft selection since 2006, when they chose Adam Ottavino with the 30th overall selection.

The Draft will continue on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at noon. The final 30 rounds will then take place on Saturday.

St. Louis chooses righty Flaherty with second pick

Draft 2014: Cardinals draft RHP Jack Flaherty No. 34

ST. LOUIS -- Jack Flaherty first caught the attention of the Cardinals' California area scout two seasons ago when, as a sophomore at Harvard-Westlake High School (Calif.), he was beginning to show potential as an offensive third baseman.

On Thursday, the Cardinals were elated to have nabbed Flaherty as a pitcher, doing so by making him the club's second first-round selection in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Flaherty, a right-hander, was taken 34th overall, an extra Draft selection the Cardinals gained through Carlos Beltran's offseason departure.

It marked the third straight season in which the Cardinals have had two first-round selections and the second consecutive year in which both were used on pitchers. Last season, St. Louis selected Marco Gonzales and Rob Kaminsky with those first picks.

2014 Draft Central

"It became clear that [pitching] is where his future is," scouting director Dan Kantrovitz said after the Cardinals wrapped up their Day 1 selections by picking four right-handed pitchers. "I think you could still see him as a quality position player down the road, but for us, it's nowhere close to the potential he has on the mound, which has the potential to be pretty special."

Thrilled that Flaherty was still available to take, the Cardinals now turn their attention to signing the 18-year-old, who has committed to play at the University of North Carolina. He is reportedly seeking Top 15 bonus money ($2.5 million) to be lured away from that college commitment. The slot value for the 34th selection is $1.6504 million.

Prepared to go over slot to add the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Flaherty to the organization's system, the Cardinals made a later selection (Andrew Morales, No. 71 overall) that was designed to save some of that pool money in order to allocate it to Flaherty.

"I have to be careful not to shoot myself in the foot here because we haven't really started negotiations with him," Kantrovitz said. "But at the same time, I don't think we would have gone into it if we hadn't done our due diligence and had an idea what his range might be."

Flaherty, speaking via conference call, hinted at his willingness to strongly consider the Cardinals' pitch. The signing deadline for 2014 Draft picks is July 18.

"Right now, it's just been a crazy few minutes," Flaherty said. "My family and I are still trying to take it all in right now. I committed to North Carolina, but I'm honored to be taken by the Cardinals, especially in that situation. It's an unbelievable opportunity, and I'm hoping we can work something out."

The Cardinals are particularly intrigued by Flaherty's advanced command of four pitches and athleticism. He comes with a clean delivery and could add velocity to an already 93-94 mph fastball as he fills out his frame.

"You don't often see high school kids with really good command," Kantrovitz said. "I'm not going to say it's pinpoint yet because he's just making the transition from third baseman/pitcher to now being a full-time pitcher, but it's going to be as good as you're going to see at the high school level. That gives us a lot of confidence that he's going to have a lot of success."

Dedicating his time solely to pitching should be a boost to Flaherty's development.

"I'm open to trying anything," Flaherty said. "I feel like once my focus gets put to one thing that I can do a lot to help them out in the future. I'm intrigued to see what lies in the future."

Pitching for a high school with a powerhouse baseball program, Flaherty didn't lose a start as a junior or senior. He went 10-0 with a 0.63 ERA in 2014 after a 13-win season the year before. In his only playoff start this season, Flaherty pitched a no-hitter.

"Sometimes you just go on a little streak, and that streak just happened to not be broken," Flaherty said of his pair of undefeated seasons. "That's how that goes."

He also shined in USA Baseball's 2012 National High School Invitational, where he threw a complete game in his tournament debut, and was recently named the 2014 California Gatorade Player of the Year.

He becomes the third Harvard-Westlake pitcher taken in the first round of the Draft in the last three seasons, as well, following Max Fried (Padres) and Lucas Giolito (Nationals). Flaherty said he remains in touch with both and has taken their advice as he prepares for the negotiation process.

The Draft will continue on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at noon. The final 30 rounds will then take place on Saturday.

Cardinals find righty Williams in second round

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals scouting director Dan Kantrovitz estimated that it was early April when high school right-hander Ronnie Williams began pitching himself up the organization's Draft board.

The texts came to him from area scout Charlie Gonzalez and southeast crosschecker Fernando Arango, both of whom were watching one of Williams' starts for American Senior High School (Fla.). Kantrovitz read the messages, which specifically praised Williams' delivery, and the Cardinals never missed another one of Williams' senior season starts.

That groundwork led the organization to use its second-round pick (No. 68 overall) in Thursday's First-Year Player Draft on Williams, a player not necessarily projected by other clubs to be snatched up so early but one that the Cardinals believe could become a steal.

"That's one of the reasons why he wasn't one of these highly publicized players because he kind of came on the scene late," Kantrovitz said. "He wasn't this highly touted guy for us until I got that text from Fernando and Charlie. We really blanketed his starts from that point on and felt comfortable taking him on Day 1. I would be surprised if any other teams really had that type of comprehensive coverage on him."

Williams was the third right-handed pitcher the Cardinals picked on Thursday (and the second out of high school); the Cardinals followed that selection by taking another right-hander, Andrew Morales, three picks later.

Williams, like Cardinals first-rounder Jack Flaherty, was a two-way player in high school. As a junior, Williams went 4-1 with a 2.58 ERA and hit .394. Williams then helped pitch his school to a state championship this season and finished 2014 with an 8-2 record and 0.97 ERA in 65 innings (11 games). He struck out 72 and walked 22.

"Ronnie is an electric athlete, and he has a delivery that we fell in love with," Kantrovitz said. "You can tell by his delivery how fluid it is, how connected it is, how repeatable it is. You can't have that type of delivery without being a great athlete. This guy is just outstanding."

The Cardinals also clocked Williams' fastball consistently at 96-97 mph.

The Hialeah, Fla., native has committed to play at Florida A&M University. The Cardinals expect that they'll need to offer Williams appropriate slot money ($833,900) in order to get him to back out of that college commitment.

The Draft will continue on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at noon. The final 30 rounds will then take place on Saturday.