Albert Pujols 2001

Cardinals infielder Albert Pujols swings in the batting cages during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., in 2001. (Post-Dispatch photo by Chris Lee)

The first meeting between Ben Johnson and Albert Pujols is one that couldn’t be pinpointed by Johnson. Rather, something else comes to mind when Johnson thinks back on his first encounter with Pujols during their time as minor-leaguers following the 1999 MLB draft.

“Now I remember the first time I watched him hit,” said Johnson, a former fourth-round pick by the Cardinals who now manages the franchise’s Class AAA affiliate. “And it was crystal clear that he was a lot bigger and stronger than everybody else, and he could really handle the bat.”

Cards' 1999 draft class

The Cardinals’ 1999 draft class with career WAR, via

x-didn’t sign with Cards

Rd.-pick Name, Pos WAR
1-30 Chance Caple, RHP N/A
1s-36 Nick Stocks, RHP N/A
1s-46 Chris Duncan, 1B 2.8
2s-82 Josh Pearce, RHP -0.3
3-102 B.R. Cook, RHP N/A
4-127 Ben Johnson, OF 0.2
4-132 Jimmy Journell, RHP -0.4
5-162 Charlie Williams, OF N/A
6-192 Josh Teekel, RHP N/A
7-222 Coco Crisp, 2B 28.9
8-252 Shawn Schumacher, C N/A
9-282 Damon Thames, SS N/A
10-312 Kevin Sprague, LHP N/A
11-342 x-Aaron Davidson, 2B N/A
12-372 Brent Spooner, C N/A
13-402 Albert Pujols, 3B 101.6
14-432 Matt Vincent, LHP N/A
15-462 Travis Bailey, 3B N/A
16-492 Cheyenne Janke, RHP N/A
17-522 Mike Perkins, RHP N/A
18-552 Paul Fahs, RHP N/A
19-582 x-Christopher Beck, OF N/A
20-612 Scotty Layfield, RHP N/A
21-642 Jeremy Cummings, RHP N/A
22-672 Mike Floyd, OF N/A
23-702 Chris Fiora, RHP N/A
24-732 Mike Crudale, RHP 1.7
25-762 Aaron Penberthy, C N/A
26-792 x-Justin Berg, C N/A
27-822 Don Graves, RHP N/A
28-852 Brandon Peck, LHP N/A
29-882 Justin Albertson, OF N/A
30-912 Mark Butler, RHP N/A
31-942 Matt Parker, RHP N/A
32-972 Trevor Sansom, RHP N/A
33-1002 Bo Hart, SS 1.1
34-1032 x-Jaqua Moon, RHP N/A
35-1062 Aaron Dinkel, RHP N/A
36-1092 x-Jeff Cruz, LHP N/A
37-1122 Chad Yates, RHP N/A
38-1152 Chris Buckley, OF N/A
39-1182 Monte Lee, OF N/A
40-1212 x-Ronnie Corona, RHP N/A

Daniel Guerrero

@TheDanielGuerrero on Twitter

Originally published on, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

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