Cardinals Drafts: 1997

The second in a series looking back at recent Cardinals drafts. In 1997, Rick Ankiel, Adam Kennedy and others joined the organization.

In a draft that saw the Cardinals spend over $3 million on signing bonuses for just the first two rounds combined, eight players drafted by the club that year made it to the major leagues. However, they were unable to sign three of them.

The Cardinals gave Scott Boras client Rick Ankiel a $2.5 million signing bonus, slighty less than the first overall pick Matt Anderson, who got $2.505 million. Ankiel fell to the second round (72nd overall) because teams were unsure of his bonus demands.

With their first pick they took infielder Adam Kennedy and gave him a $650,000 signing bonus. He played in 33 games for the Cardinals before being packaged in the deal that brought Jim Edmonds to St. Louis prior to the 2000 season. The 31-year-old was recently brought back and will be the Cardinals second baseman in 2007.

Now we will take a closer look at the eight picks that made it to the major leagues.


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Adam Kennedy (1st round)

The 20th overall pick, Kennedy was already in the majors by 1999, the same year he was named to the All-Star Futures Game and also the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year. He hit .255 in 33 games for St. Louis before being traded along with Kent Bottenfield to the Anaheim Angels for Jim Edmonds during 2000 Spring Training.

Kennedy went on to win a World Series ring with the Angels in 2002, being named MVP of the ALCS along the way. He suffered a knee injury at the end of the 2004 season and underwent reconstructive surgery, keeping him out for the first month of the 2005 season.

The Angels' career leaders for games played at second base with 969, Kennedy is a lifetime .280 hitter. He recently signed a three-year, $10 million deal to return to the Cardinals as their everyday second baseman.


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Rick Ankiel (2nd round)

Most Cardinal fans already know about the career of Rick Ankiel, having followed it through the system since the Cardinals gave him the $2.5 million bonus in ‘97, but I will take a look back anyway, for those that may have forgotten.

The left-hander was regarded as one of the top prospects in the game shortly after being drafted, and by 2000 he was already a full-time starter. He went 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA that year, striking out 194 and walking 90 in 175 innings while opponents hit just .219 against him.

From there, however, it all went down hill. Chosen as the Game One starter in the NLDS, Ankiel worked two innings before running into trouble in the third, retiring just two of the eight batters he faced and throwing a major league-record five wild pitches in the frame. He made two more post-season appearances after that, but it only got worse.

Ankiel spent most of the 2001 season in the minor leagues, trying to regain his form, and he finally did after being sent all the way down to Rookie-level Johnson City in June. However, he missed the entire 2002 season with elbow tendinitis and a strained flexor muscle and not long after coming back in 2003 he was sidelined with elbow discomfort that ultimately required Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.

Finally healthy again, Ankiel returned to the Cardinals after a minor league rehab assignment in September, 2004. He appeared in five games for the club, but in spring training the following year, Ankiel shocked the Cardinals when he announced that he would give up pitching and become an outfielder. He hit .259 with 21 home runs and 75 RBI in 85 games between Double-A Springfield and low Class A Quad Cities in 2005, despite fighting back problems all season long.

The injury bug would hit again in 2006, this time requiring surgery to repair patellar tendinitis in his left knee. The Cardinals have signed Ankiel to a minor league contract for the 2007 season and he is likely to spend most of the season at Triple-A Memphis.


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Xavier Nady (4th round)

The Cardinals drafted Nady out of high school after he was named Northern California Player of the Year in 1997. He decided against signing with the Cardinals, however, and attended the University of California for three years before being taken in the second round by the Padres in 2000.

Nady signed a five-year, $2.85 million major league deal with San Diego and became just the 18th player to go directly to the major leagues without making his professional debut in the minor leagues since the draft began in 1965. He had just one at-bat for the club, however, and did not return to the majors again until 2003. He was named Padres Minor League Player of the Year in 2001, but had his 2002 season cut short by Tommy John surgery.

The Padres traded Nady to the New York Mets for Mike Cameron in 2005. His stay in New York was short-lived, however, as the Mets sent him to Pittsburgh for Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez in July, 2006. In 399 major league games, the 28-year-old has hit .270 with 42 home runs.


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Jason Karnuth (8th round)

Karnuth spent 4+ seasons in the minor leagues before finally reaching the major leagues with the Cardinals in 2001. He posted a 1.80 ERA in four games, but would spend the entire 2002 season in the minor leagues. Following that season, the Cardinals sent Karnuth to the Cubs as a PTBNL in the deal that brought Jeff Fassero to St. Louis.

After spending just one season in the Cubs system, Karnuth became a free agent and signed with Detroit. He reached the majors again in 2005, appearing in three games for the Tigers. He signed with Oakland following the season, but ended up back in the Tigers organization before the end of the season and will return there in 2007.


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Seth Etherton (9th round)

To the surprise of everyone, Etherton opted to return to USC for his senior season when his negotiations with the Cardinals turned bad. He signed with the Angels for a $1.075 million bonus when they made him the 18th overall pick in 1998.

Etherton has played for seven different organizations, spending time in the majors with Anaheim, Cincinatti, Oakland and Kansas City. He has a 6.30 ERA in 23 major league games. Etherton remains unsigned for the 2007 season.


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Jason Michaels (15th round)

The Cardinals were also unable to sign 15th round pick Jason Michaels, who returned to the University of Miami and became a fourth round draft pick of the Phillies in 1998. He made it to the majors by 2001 and spent the next four years with Philidelphia, hitting .291 with 235 hits and 31 home runs in 383 games.

Prior to the 2006 season, the Phillies dealt Michaels to the Cleveland Indians for relief pitcher Arthur Rhodes. He played in 123 games for the Indians in 2006, hitting .267 with nine home runs and 55 RBI.


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Justin Brunette (20th round)

Brunette spent four seasons in the Cardinals organization. He missed the 1998 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and in 2000, he appeared in four games for St. Louis. He was claimed off waivers by the New York Mets prior to the 2001 season and spent the next two years in the Mets system before calling it a career.


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Jose Rodriguez (24th round)

Rodriguez had two stints, appearing in a total of eight games for the Cardinals in 1997 and 2002, before being released in June, 2002. Picked up by the Twins, Rodriguez appeared in four more major leagues games that season. He has not, however, returned to the majors since and now appears to be out of the game. He was with the Marlins organization in 2005, but did not play in 2006.

1997 Draft Picks

1. Adam Kennedy, ss, Cal State Northridge.
2. Rick Ankiel, lhp, St. Lucie (Fla.) HS.
3. Patrick Coogan, rhp, Louisiana State University.
4. Xavier Nady, ss, Salinas (Calif.) HS.
5. Jason Navarro, lhp, Tulane University.
6. Bryan Rupert, c, Limestone (S.C.) College.
7. Joe Secoda, 2b, Rancho Santiago (Calif.) HS.
8. Jason Karnuth, rhp, Illinois State University.
9. Seth Etherton, rhp, University of Southern California.
10. Finley Woodward, rhp, Auburn University.
11. Reynaldo Torres, 1b, Aurea Quiles HS, Guanica, P.R.
12. Aaron Gentry, ss, Berry (Ga.) College.
13. Derek Feramisco, of, Fresno State University.
14. Rob Macrory, 2b, Auburn University.
15. Jason Michaels, of, University of Miami.
16. Jeremy Lambert, rhp, Kearns (Utah) HS.
17. Tim Davis, of, Atkinson County HS, Pearson, Ga.
18. David Kim, of, Seton Hall University.
19. Jeff Munster, rhp, Fresno (Calif.) CC.
20. Justin Brunette, lhp, San Diego State University.
21. Wes McCrotty, lhp, Russellville (Ark.) HS.
22. Tristan Jerue, rhp, University of Georgia.
23. Chris Martine, c, George Mason University.
24. Jose Rodriguez, lhp, Florida International University.
25. Michael Huffaker, rhp, Birmingham-Southern College.
26. Craig Hopson, rhp, Boylan Catholic HS, Rockford, Ill.
27. Luke Quaccia, 1b, Standford University.
28. Neal Arnold, rhp, University of Nebraska-Kearney.
29. Derek Goodsen, rhp, Brewton-Parker (Ga.) College.
30. Taber Maier, ss, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
31. Brady Gick, c, Ohio University.
32. Andy Kroneberger, 2b, Camarillo (Calif.) HS.
33. Blake Ledbetter, c, Betrand Mo.
34. Michael Speckhardt, of, Marist College.
35. Robert Vazquez, 3b, Westmar (Iowa) University.
36. Andy Bevins, of, San Diego State University.
37. Stephen Schaub, of, Cowley County (Kan.) CC.
38. Carl Goodsen, of, MacArthur HS, Houston.
39. Remer McIntyre, of, Hillsborough HS, Tampa.
40. Scott Wilson, 3b-rhp, Tulane University.
41. Doug Gant, lhp, Central HS, Macon, Ga.
42. Jeremy Weinburg, 3b, Sonora HS, La habra, Calif.
43. Cody Getz, lhp, Wooster HS, Reno, Nev.
44. William Eyre, rhp, Snow (Utah) JC.
45. Lionel Rogers, rhp, Fresno CC.
46. Josh Dorminy, 1b, Middle Georgia JC.
*Source: Baseball America Draft Almanac

Jason Scott can be reached via email at jasonscott@thecardinalnation.com.

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