Reminder: Albert Pujols was nearly a member of the Devil Rays and history could have been much different

Reminder: Albert Pujols was nearly a member of the Devil Rays and history could have been much different

On Friday night, Albert Pujols recorded his 3,000th career hit, becoming the 32nd player ever to accomplish the feat.

While Pujols is known for his time with the Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals, he could've easily ended up with a number of other teams. Keep in mind, Pujols wasn't a top pick as an amateur. Rather, he was selected in the 13th round in 1999 out of Maple Woods Community College. The Cardinals might've been higher on him than any other team, and yet they still chose him after picking 15 other players -- only five of whom reached the majors, and only one, Coco Crisp, had a significant big-league career.

In Jonah Keri's The Extra 2 Percent, he details how Pujols nearly become a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. You can read the excerpted story elsewhere, but it boils down to the Devil Rays brass not believing Pujols's body would allow him to have a meaningful career -- that despite the pleas of scout Fernando Arango.

Here's a notable quotable:

"He was this paunchy, thick-bodied kid," Jennings recalled. "Stan said to me, 'I saw this kid strike out two or three times, I don't know what position he'd play, I can't do anything with him. I can't write him up.' "

Undaunted, Arango told his bosses, "All I want to say about this guy is that someday he'll hit 40 home runs in the big leagues." Jennings wasn't ready to dismiss Arango's report or his ranking of the top prospect in Arango's five-state area. So he sent in R.J. Harrison, a national cross-checker (who would take over, years later, as scouting director). Harrison's verdict: "I can't do anything with this guy."

As Keri notes, it's not entirely fair to blame the D-Rays -- every other team, the Cardinals included, passed multiple times. Yet Pujols went on to author a Hall of Fame career that saw him win three MVP awards, homer more than 600 times, and now join the 3,000 Hit Club.

The D-Rays, for their part, did draft some good players that year -- Josh Hamilton and Carl Crawford were their top two picks -- but they also selected eight consecutive players between rounds six and 13 who never reached the majors. Any of those picks could've been used on Pujols. If so, who knows how different things would have played out -- for them, for him, and for baseball as a whole. 


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Publish date : 2018-05-05 14:24:17
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