Stanford players are turning pro | June 22, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - June 22, 2012

Stanford players are turning pro

by Dean McArdle

The deadline for signing drafted players is still four weeks away, but the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals didn't have to wait long to sign two of their top picks from Stanford.

The Cardinals got themselves a Cardinal — Stanford's two-time All Pac-12 third basemen Stephen Piscotty last week while. The Royals, meanwhile, signed Cardinal shortstop Kenny Diekroeger.

A third Stanford player to sign recently was junior catcher Eric Smith, who officially became a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers' organization. Smith was an 18th-round selection.

Piscotty inked his name to a professional contract on Saturday. St. Louis selected him with the 36th overall pick in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on June 4.

"Obviously, sometimes it's tough to wait real long to start," Piscotty told "I'm very excited about this opportunity, and I can't wait for my first game and stuff. There's just a lot of excitement going on in my life right now."

The signature made Piscotty an instant millionaire. Baseball America reported that Piscotty signed for $1.43 million, which is the recommended amount for 36th slot.

Piscotty flew to St. Louis to do the signing at Busch Stadium, and then took batting practice on the field before the Cardinals' game against Kansas City.

The Pleasanton native hit .329 with five home runs and 56 RBI this season for Stanford, which finished 41-18 after being eliminated by Florida State in an NCAA Super Regional.

Piscotty also led the prestigious Cape Cod League in batting average last summer hitting at a .349 clip.

The Cardinals will send Piscotty to Davenport, Iowa, to play with their Class A affiliate Quad City River Bandits. He is projected to stay at the hot corner in the minor leagues, despite moving to the outfield — and pitching — for Stanford this season.

Kansas City signed Diekroeger to a deal that included a $500,000 signing bonus. The Royals selected Diekroeger in the fourth round of the draft.

Diekroeger, the former Menlo School standout, will head to the Wilmington (N.C.) Blue Rocks, the Royals' Class A affiliate.

Stanford teammates Bretty Mooneyham (3rd round) and Jake Stewart (9th round) are both expected to sign professional contracts later this week. Mooneyham was to sign on Thursday with the Washington Nationals, while Stewart will sign Sunday with the Detroit Tigers.

Stanford had a total of seven players selected in this year's draft. Mark Appel (1st round) and Tyler Gaffney (24th round), both taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates, have yet to sign. If Gaffney decides not to sign, he could return to Stanford and continue his football career.