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Cards woo UO recruit to St. Louis.

Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard

Carson Kelly, the top baseball prospect in the state of Oregon this year who would have headlined Oregon's recruiting class, was instead taking batting practice Friday with the St. Louis Cardinals.

His workout on the field at Busch Stadium concluded a day in which Kelly passed a physical, signed his contract and met with the media on his first day as a professional player.

"He went his whole first round hitting line drives up the middle, so you could tell he's got some maturity," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told reporters after watching Kelly work out. "Most kids come out here and just start launching them. They take a huge swing and walk out of there with their head hanging low."

Kelly reportedly received a signing bonus of $1.6 million, well above the "slotted" bonus set by Major League Baseball of $574,300 for being the 86th overall pick in the draft. The more than $1 million extra that the Cardinals paid is the largest difference so far between the slotted amount and actual bonus among signed players.

"We valued him as a first-round talent," Cardinals scouting director Dan Kantrovitz told "It helped make our draft to land somebody like him ... in the second round."

Kelly went to St. Louis this week, met with officials of his team and reached an agreement Thursday before attending the St. Louis game.

"I took everything into account: The money, the opportunity to go to college and play for coach (George) Horton and the Ducks," Kelly told reporters Friday. "This was just a very, very tough decision. The way it turned out, I'm happy with it."

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Kelly was projected as both a third baseman and pitcher in college. He's been assigned to Johnson City (Tenn.) of the rookie level Appalachian League and will play third base.

Kelly becomes the third UO recruit to sign this week, and two of Oregon State's recruits have either signed or reached agreement on professional contracts after being selected earlier this month in the MLB amateur draft.

The other potential Ducks who instead chose professional baseball were high school senior Andrew Pullin and junior college pitcher Nick Sawyer. Of their signed recruits, the Beavers lost pitcher Mason Felt and apparently shortstop Zach Green, both high school seniors.

There were seven UO recruits and three current Ducks selected in the draft, and OSU had three recruits and three current players selected. The players with college eligibility remaining have until July 13 to either reach agreement with a professional team, or go with their college commitment.

Pullin was the fifth-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies from Centralia, Wash., and Sawyer, from Howard College in Texas, was taken in the 40th round by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Pullin was listed by Oregon as an outfielder, his primary position in high school, but the Phillies want to convert him to second base. He has also pitched, primarily as a right-hander but in brief appearances as a left-hander.

"It's been my dream to play professional baseball," Pullin told a reporter of his decision to sign. "I got the opportunity, and I took it."

This was the third consecutive year a team drafted Sawyer, who was a 37th round pick by the Reds in 2010 and a 29th round pick by the Rangers last year after his first season of junior college.

This season at Howard, Sawyer made 10 relief appearances spanning 15 2/3 innings and struck out 24 batters. He allowed five hits and two runs for a 1.15 ERA and recorded four saves. Sawyer, however, has had control problems, with 17 walks this season, or more than one per inning.

Green, who attended Jesuit High School in Sacramento, was the third-round selection of the Phillies and is projected to play shortstop, as he was going to play for OSU. Though he isn't listed as signed by the team, a scout has told reporters that an agreement on a signing bonus has been reached. Felt, from Lawrenceville, Ga., was the fifth-round selection of the Reds.

Ryan Gorton, a senior catcher for the Beavers last season who has also pitched, signed a contract last week with the Oakland Athletics after being selected in the 31st round.
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Title Annotation:Baseball Oregon; The top player from Oregon baseball's class instead turns professional after getting a $1.6 million bonus
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U4MO
Date:Jun 16, 2012
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