Prospect Retro: Albert Pujols
Per reader request, a prospect retro for Albert Pujols.
Pujols was drafted by the Cardinals in the 13th round in 1999, out of Maple Woods Community College in Missouri. He was considered to be a promising bat, but there were questions about his defense, and many scouts thought he was too fat. Some scouts also questioned his listed birthday of January 16, 1980. He was born in the Dominican Republic.
Pujols made his pro debut in 2000, hitting .324/.389/.565 in 109 games for Class A Peoria, with 38 walks and just 37 strikeouts in 395 at-bats. He also got into 14 games at Class A Potomac, hitting .284/.341/.481, and went 3-for-14 in three games at Triple-A Memphis. I was extremely impressed with his bat, and gave him a Grade A- in the 2001 Minor League Scouting Notebook, rating him as the Number 18 prospect in baseball. I was a bit ahead of the curve on this. Baseball America put three different Top 50 lists in their '01 prospect book, written up separately by Jim Callis, Allan Simpson, and Will Lingo. The highest ranking for Pujols was #39.
While most people, including me, thought that Pujols would start 2001 in Double-A, he had a terrific spring training and won a starting job in the Cardinals lineup, hitting .329/.403/.610, quickly emerging as one of the very best hitters in baseball. His power has developed beyond where it was in A-ball, and he's maintained his exceptional plate discipline.
Did Pujols really come out of nowhere? He was a year ahead of schedule, but it's also true that Baseball America was tracking him, and I was tracking him, and other experts were tracking him too.
Comparable Players to Albert Pujols, through Age 24
When the WORST guy on your comp list is Jack Clark, you are a special hitter.
I think the only real question about Pujols is his age curve.