Today it happened the St. Louis Cardinals signed their first round 23rd pick shortstop Delvin Perez. He passed his physical and received a signing bonus of just more than $2.2 million Friday.
Perez celebrated the occasion by taking ground balls at Busch Stadium and hitting in the cage, the prelude to reporting to the Gulf Coast League Cardinals on Saturday.
“I feel so proud to be here,” Perez said through translator Alexandra Naboa. “I’m more than willing and ready to do whatever it takes to make history on this team. … I feel blessed and I’m thankful to God. It’s always been a dream of mine (to play professional baseball), and now it’s finally here and I get to to do it.”
First-year Cardinals Scouting Director Randy Flores said Perez will need plenty of time to hone his skills.
“If you think that, in several years, he’ll be the age of many of the other players that we drafted,” said Flores, the former Cardinals reliever. “For other players, he’ll still be younger in several years. He’ll go to Florida (on Saturday) to the Gulf Coast League to begin giving him the reps and the time necessary to let his talent develop.”
Flores said the Cardinals had been aware of Perez for the last two-plus years, and the team was thrilled to have a chance to pick him. Perez was expected to be a top-10 pick before testing positive for steroids.
“There was not any thought that he would be anywhere close to our board up until hours or days before the draft,” Flores said. “Even then, you’re not certain until that pick, No. 22, happens and he’s looking right at you. At that time, on our board, looking at his talent and the opportunity we had to acquire him, we were thrilled to make that pick.”
Mozeliak said the Cardinals viewed Perez as a young man who made a mistake.
“The biggest thing for us was understanding that he’s 17 years old,” Mozeliak said. “He made a mistake. He recognizes that mistake. He’s sorry for that. The fact that he’s sitting here in front of all of you (media), he’s not running from it. He’s taking ownership of that. From our standpoint, we admire that. We certainly wish it didn’t happen, but had it not happened, he’s probably not sitting here.”