Matt Morris, the newest Cardinals arm phenom, thought mainly of a college scholarship when he agreed to convert to pitching in high school. Never, even in his richest fantasy, did he imagine the payoff.
The Milwaukee Brewers drafted him in the 25th round in 1992, after he had pitched for only one prep season.
"That surprised me, because I didn't even know when the draft was," Morris said. "But I'm glad I decided to go to college."
His three years at Seton Hall University brought a bigger surprise Thursday. The Cardinals made him the 12th selection in baseball's draft of amateur players.
"To go from the 25th round out of high school to the first round now, that's more than I could have ever wanted," Morris said. "Actually, I was a little surprised that I went 12th because everyone was calling and all the scouts were telling me I would definitely go in the first four or five picks.
"I was looking at the clubs drafting up higher. When it turned out to be St. Louis that drafted me, I was unprepared. I don't know much about the Cardinals."
The Cardinals knew enough about Morris that they also expected him to be drafted earlier.
"I just don't know why he came back to us," Cards scouting director Marty Maier said. "Some scouting directors I talked to didn't like the way he threw at the end of the season as much as the beginning. We were surprised he was still there when we picked - surprised and happy."
The Cardinals also seemed delighted with some selections after the first round. As compensation for losing free agent Gregg Jefferies, the Cards had the 29th overall pick as part of a supplemental round and took high school third baseman Chris Haas. They picked high school shortstop Jason Wolf in the second round. Baseball America ranked both players among the country's top 15 prep talents.
Baseball America regarded Morris, 20, as the top college pitcher available in the draft and named him a first-team All-American.
"His stock didn't slip with us," Maier said.
Joe Rigoli is the Cardinals scout who led Maier to get excited about watching Morris. Rigoli also scouted New Yorkers Allen Watson and John Frascatore.
"Joe knows that area very well," Maier said. "He loves this kid's makeup. Morris really goes after hitters; I saw that the one time I watched him pitch. Joe says he has a great attitude, and he knows how important makeup is to getting a guy to the big …