Wilson's Big League Day

Prep standout works out at Busch Stadium





ST. LOUIS—With prep standout Austin Wilson visiting Busch Stadium for something akin to a recruiting trip, manager Tony La Russa was asked if it's his role to play chamber of commerce.

"I play the honest role," he said.

That, and he supplies towels.

La Russa jogged off the field while Wilson took batting practice at Busch Stadium on July 22. The skipper returned moments later with a bottle of water and a towel. Wilson drilled a ball that screamed through the muggy, oppressive heat and landed in the visitors bullpen beyond the left-center wall. La Russa immediately tossed him the towel and held out the bottle. Talk about full service.

"He's one of the most impressive teenagers I can remember,"  La Russa said. "I couldn't (hit a ball into Big Mac Land, the second deck of left-field stands) when I was 16 or 17 if I was standing at shortstop. He's plus, plus, plus."

Which is why the Cardinals took such an unusual approach.

Despite being viewed as an early-round talent, Wilson fell to the 12th round because of a commitment to Stanford. Wilson is a graduate of Harvard-Westlake High in Los Angeles, and the son of an MIT grad and a Stanford grad. Both of his parents accompanied him on the trip and spent part of their time interviewing personnel about life in professional baseball.

La Russa, general manager John Mozeliak and chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. attended Wilson's batting practice, and each spent time talking with his parents.

Club officials doubted they could sign him when they drafted Wilson, but that was before they began talking to the family and had them in St. Louis for extended discussions.

"There are scenarios where it all works out," Mozeliak said. "We'll just let time happen. The young man has some decisions, and we felt bringing him gave him a better chance to see what this is all about."

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• The Cardinals signed supplemental first-rounder Seth Blair for a bonus slightly more than $750,000. Blair, a righthander, was 12-1, 3.64 at Arizona State.

• Cardinals' international signee Carlos Matias has impressed during his time in limbo with the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League. While awaiting verification of his paperwork so he can finalize his contract, the righthander was 2-1, 0.94 with 62 strikeouts and 12 walks in 48 innings.