Cards high on athletic prep right-hander
No. 50 pick Jenkins committed to Baylor in two sports
ST. LOUIS -- Among the Cardinals' goals in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft was to add some athleticism to their Minor League system. With at least one of their picks on Monday night, they got started in that direction.
Right-handed pitcher Tyrell Jenkins, the 50th overall pick in the Draft, is not only a pitcher with four pitches and impressive stuff. He's also a track athlete in Henderson, Texas, and he's committed to play both baseball and football at Baylor University. Rivals.com classifies Jenkins as a "dual-threat quarterback," but it may be more accurate to call him a triple-threat athlete.
"Jenkins is a physical specimen," said Jeff Luhnow, the Cardinals' vice president of scouting and player development. "He's a tremendous athlete. It's a long drive from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to Henderson, Texas, but we did it all spring. The day I saw him pitch, he ran a track meet and then came over, changed into his baseball clothes and pitched and was still sitting at 93 [mph] in the sixth inning."
Jenkins reportedly has yet to decide what direction to take. Playing college football against the likes of Texas and Oklahoma certainly holds its appeal, but so does getting on with a professional baseball career.
"Probably baseball, because I've played that my whole life, since I was a little boy," Jenkins told Examiner.com when asked which sport he'd choose if all things were equal. "The bus rides and everything, that's nothing that's going to affect me. I'm used to traveling. I'm just ready to get started, and compete again. I'm more anxious to play baseball, and make that my job. There's nothing better."
The Cardinals acknowledge that signing Jenkins could be a challenge. But Luhnow said that the club has been given the green light by ownership to make every effort to sign not only Jenkins, but its first two picks as well -- No. 25 overall selection Zack Cox, a third baseman from Arkansas, and No. 46 pick Seth Blair, a right-hander from Arizona State.
"I've never had the opportunity to be the quarterback at Baylor, in front of 80,000 people on a Saturday, so I don't really know exactly," Luhnow said. "But he's told us that he wants to play baseball. ... I think he's mentally set on playing baseball, and we want to give him that opportunity."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.