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Cards sign first-round pick
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06/11/2003  8:35 PM ET 
Cards sign first-round pick
Barton is expected to play for Johnson City
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The Cardinals announced Wednesday they have signed their first-round pick from the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, catcher Daric Barton. The 17-year-old from Southern California is expected to be assigned to rookie-level Johnson City for his first professional season. Including Barton, St. Louis has signed 20 of its 47 draft picks.

Barton was the 28th overall selection in the Draft. In March, Baseball America ranked Barton No. 31 on its list of the top 50 high school prospects. The magazine also called him the third-best hitter among high school players. He has played primarily third base this year, but the Cardinals view him as a catcher.

Barton was named Marina's MVP and a member of the Orange County All-Star team. He was named first-team all-county and first-team all-league. Listed at a shade under six feet tall and a little over 200 pounds, Barton has been selected for a number of all-star showcases, including the 2002 Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif., and the 2002 Goodwill Series, which features elite high school players from the United States and Japan.

The last catcher selected by the Cardinals in the first round was Terry Kennedy in 1977. Kennedy played in 14 Major League seasons and was a four-time All-Star. The only other time St. Louis took a catcher in the first round, it worked out even better -- they drafted Ted Simmons with the 10th overall pick in 1967.

Among the other players who have signed already are fourth-round pick Mark Michael, a right-hander out of the University of Delaware, sixth-rounder Matthew Weagle, a right-hander from Franklin Pierce College, and 18th-round selection Jose Virgil, and outfielder from Oklahoma State. Virgil is the son of former Major Leaguer Ozzie Virgil Jr. and the grandson of former Major Leaguer Ozzie Virgil Sr.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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