In every summer’s draft, there seems to be one or two players who are reported as signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, but end up not becoming a professional.
The reason could be cold feet, a misunderstanding or perhaps a medical problem. Usually, the specific details of individual cases do not come out.
That isn’t the case with 2012 34th round selection Mark Trentacosta. The left-handed pitcher from the University of Cal Irvine told a very unfortunate story to the Daily Pilot, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Times.
Through a series of puzzling decisions and regulations, the pitcher never signed a professional contract, yet is ineligible to return to the Anteaters for his senior season.
You can read the details in the linked-to article, but the essence is that only after Trentacosta traveled from California to Jupiter, Fla. to Johnson City, Tenn. did the Cardinals organization sent him home without signing him. The reason stated was a degenerative disc disease identified during his physicals, a diagnosis the player’s professional care givers dispute.
To make matters worse, Trentacosta spent more time with the Cardinals on expense than the NCAA would allow. He would have to reimburse the organization to retain his collegiate eligibility, a move he could not afford.
Because Trentacosta did not sign a contract, he was not paid a salary, so would end up having to cover considerable expenses out of his own pocket for his time in professional limbo in return for regaining his eligibility.
In addition to not being able to return to collegiate ball, he is blocked from making his living as a pro ballplayer. The Cardinals retain his rights, precluding him from signing with another organization as a free agent until after the 2013 draft.
A sadder and wiser Trentacosta is back in school, with his immediate focus on getting his degree rather than securing strikeouts.
I asked the Cardinals if they would comment on the points made in the article but was not given an official response.