Albert Pujols and the 1999 draft


Five years after his retirement, Albert Pujols will be cast as Cooperstown Immortal.

I don’t think anyone has any doubts about it. But did you know that few people in the baseball industry thought in 1999 that the great Dominican star would make a good ballplayer?

Well, that’s how it was, to the point that Pujols was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the thirteenth round of the amateur draft in June of that year. Pujols was the 402nd player selected overall in the draft and the 16th player drafted by the Cardinals.

A 6-foot-6, 240-pound right-hander named Chance Caple was the Cardinals’ first draft pick, 30th, out of Texas A&M University. Caple spent five years in the minor leagues and never advanced from class A advanced.

St. Louis’ other first-round pick was another pitcher, Nick Stocks, No. 36 overall. Stocks was a 6’0” and 185-pound right-hander, graduated from Florida State University, who in 7 seasons only reached triple A and then pitched in the Atlantic League, an independent circuit.

Of the 15 players drafted by the Cardinals before Pujols, only Chris Duncan and Coco Crisp are worth mentioning. Duncan, an outfielder and first baseman, selected in the first round, number 46 overall, was an important player for the Cardinals in 2006, when they won the World Series, but his career ended three years later affected by injuries. Crisp, a center fielder, was selected in the seventh round, number 222 overall, and in 2002, while in triple A, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade for pitcher Chuck Finley. Coco, a speedy switch hitter, had a decent major league career with stops in Cleveland, Kansas City, Oakland and Boston, but nothing to write home about.

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In the 1999 draft the first selections were, 1.-Josh Hamilton (Tampa), 2.-Josh Beckett (Florida), 3.-Eric Munson (Detroit), 4.-Corey Myers (Arizona), 5.-BJ Garbe (Minnesota). Then followed a large group of small time players, almost all unknown.

In this historic mistake, no organization is spared, because all of them left aside Pujols, who first in high school and then at the anniversary level, put up extraordinary offensive numbers.


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