Cardinals Drafts: 1998

The third in a series looking back at recent Cardinals drafts. The Cardinals drafted nine players in 1998 that made it to the majors.

The Cardinals made a big splash in the 1998 First-Year Player Draft, selecting J.D. Drew and Chad Hutchinson, who were arguably the top two players, even though they were deemed by most to be unsignable. They did agree to terms with both of them, however, and ended up giving a combined $11.27 million to their top five picks, and they weren't even able to sign their second pick, 1b-rhp Ben Diggins, who was the 32nd pick overall.

"We're in the talent business, and we've got to try to do the best we can to acquire talent," general manager Walt Jocketty told the Associated Press at the time. "You've got to roll the dice once in a while.

"We had a lot to sell and we were convincing."

Second round pick Tim Lemon, a nephew of former major league All-Star Chet Lemon, got a $650,000 signing bonus. He gave up baseball following the 2004 season. Third round pick Gabe Johnson, who signed for a $220,000 bonus, is currently a non-roster invitee with the Detroit Tigers after having played in the Cardinals organization through the 2006 season. 

Following is a more detailed look at each of the nine picks that made it to the major leagues.

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J.D. Drew (1st round)

Having set his pre-draft price at $10 million in 1997, Drew refused to sign with the Phillies when they selected him with the second overall pick, never guaranteeing more than $3 million.

"We told the Phillies before the draft we had teams willing to pay, and if they weren't, please don't draft me," Drew said told The Sporting News in March, 1998. "People look at me as the bad guy, but the Phillies drafted me and I still have my rights."

Instead, he signed with the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League, hoping that his entry into the professional ranks would enable him to be declared a free agent. The players union filed a grievance and it was actually ruled by an arbitrator that baseball violated the Basic Agreement. However, since Drew was not a member of the union, the executive council ruled against Drew and he re-entered the draft in 1998.

Regarded as the top player in the draft, Drew fell to the Cardinals with the fifth overall pick and came to terms with the club after just 30 days, signing a four-year, $7 million major league contract, $3 million of which was his signing bonus. The deal had incentives that could make it worth up to $8.5 million. He zoomed through the minor leagues and made his major league debut on September 8, 1998, the same day Mark McGwire hit his 61st home run that season.

Plagued by injuries in his time with St. Louis, Drew never quite lived up to the hype and was traded along with Eli Marrero to the Atlanta Braves for Ray King, Jason Marquis and Adam Wainwright prior to the 2004 season, which just so happened to be his last year before free agency. He played in a career-high 145 games that season, hitting .305 with 31 home runs and 93 RBI. He cashed in by signing a five-year, $55 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. After missing the majority of the 2005 season with an injured shoulder that later required reconstructive surgery, Drew put up decent numbers in 2006, but following the season, he opted out of his contract in an effort to land a bigger deal. And that he did.

On January 27, nearly two months after the deal was initially announced, the Red Sox finalized a five-year, $70 million deal with the 31-year-old that would allow them to opt out of the guaranteed money for 2010 and 2011 if his right shoulder injury recurs.

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Ben Diggins (Supplemental 1st round)

Diggins declined the Cardinals' offer of $1.4 million, opting instead to attend the University of Arizona for two years and re-enter the draft in 2000. The Dodgers took him 17th overall that year and gave him $2.2 million.

In 2002, Diggins was packaged in a trade that sent him to the Milwaukee Brewers, who made him a September call-up that year. He posted an 8.62 ERA in five starts. He never returned to the majors again. The Astros selected him in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft, but he was released in April. He then signed with Windy City of the Independent Frontier League for 2006, but was released in July. He remains unsigned for the 2007 season.

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Chad Hutchinson (2nd round)

Hutchinson fell to the second round because teams were concerned that he might be a tough sign due to the fact that he was a two-year starter at quarterback for Stanford and had NFL aspirations. Scott Boras, who also represents J.D. Drew, was his agent. He agreed to terms with the Cardinals just three weeks after being drafted, receiving a $3.5 million package that included a $2.4 million signing bonus and a four-year, $1.1 million major league contract.

The right-hander, who had a fastball that could touch 97, reached the majors in 2001 and appeared in three games for the Cardinals. However, he decided to give up baseball following the season and signed a seven-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys. Released in 2004, Hutchinson signed with the Bears and was actually named the starter for the 2005 season, but was replaced after several poor preseason performances. He is currently out of football.

"Baseball was something I really enjoyed, but I really wanted to explore my passion for football," Hutchinson told shortly after signing with the Cowboys. "It's always been in the back of my mind."

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Bud Smith (4th round)

Smith became the 18th player to throw a no-hitter in his rookie season when he blanked the Padres for nine innings on September 3, 2001. After a rookie-season that saw Smith go 6-3 with a 3.83 ERA, he regressed badly in 2002, posting a 6.94 ERA in 48 innings, before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies as part of the deal that brought Scott Rolen to St. Louis. Almost immediately after the trade, Smith tore his labrum, requiring surgery and has yet to pitch in another major league game.

The left-hander underwent three surgeries – two on his shoulder and one to repair a torn rotator cuff – in three years after leaving the Cardinals. He moved on to the Minnesota organization in 2005 after appearing in a total of just 18 games in his tenure with the Phillies. He was released by the Twins, however, after appearing in just three games for their Triple-A affiliate because of the torn rotator cuff. In 2006, he was limited to 10 games for the Long Beach Armada of the Independent Golden League because of a hamstring injury, but he did post a 2.70 ERA, and just recently signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the 2007 season.

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Steve Stemle (5th round)

Steve Stemle took the long road to the majors. After spending seven seasons in the Cardinals minor league system, the right-hander left following the 2004 season and signed with the Kansas City organization. He made his major league debut with the Royals in May, 2005, and posted a 5.06 ERA in six games for the club that season. He appeared in six games for the Royals in 2006 before being shut down and undergoing Tommy John surgery in May.

Jack Wilson (9th round)

Wilson spent nearly three seasons in the Cardinals system before being shipped to Pittsburgh for lefty reliever Jason Christiansen in July, 2000. He was brought up to the majors in 2001, and in 2004, when he hit .308 with 11 home runs and 59 RBIs, he was named to the National League All-Star team. Prior to the 2006 season, Wilson signed a three-year, $20 million contract extension to remain with the Pirates through at least 2009, with an option for 2010.

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Les Walrond (13th round)

Walrond spent five-plus seasons in the Cardinals system before being claimed off waivers by the Royals in 2003. Not long after that, he was in the majors, posting a 10.12 ERA in seven games that season. He did not return to the majors until 2006 with the Cubs after a stop in the Marlins system in 2005. He appeared in 10 games (two starts) for the Cubs, posting a 6.23 ERA, and will return to the organization in 2007.

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Esix Snead (18th round)

Claimed off waivers by the Mets in 2001, Snead has had two short stints in the majors with the team. Having stole 507 bases in nine minor league seasons, Snead is known mostly for his speed. He has also spent time in the Atlanta and Baltimore organizations, but remains unsigned for the 2007 season.

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Justin Knoedler (41st round)

Knoedler didn't sign with the Cardinals after being taken in the 41st round, but moved all the way up to the 5th round in 2001 and signed with San Francisco. He has played in 14 games at the major league level over the past three seasons for the Giants.

1998 Draft Picks

1. J.D. Drew, St. Paul (Northern League).
1a. Ben Diggins, 1b-rhp, Bradshaw Mountain HS, Dewey Ariz.
(Supplemental pick for the loss of Type A free agent Dennis Eckersley).
2. Chad Hutchinson, rhp, Stanford University.
2a. Tim Lemon, of, La Mirada (Calif.) HS (Choice from Red Sox as compensation for Eckersley).
3. Gabe Johnson, c, Atlantic HS, Delray Beach, Fla.
4. Bud Smith, lhp, Los Angeles Harbor JC.
5. Steve Stemle, rhp, Western Kentucky University.
6. Kristopher Rayborn, lhp, Purvis (Miss.) HS.
7. Brad Freeman, ss-of, Mississippii State University.
8. Greg Clark, c, University of Arizona.
9. Jack Wilson, ss, Oxford (Calif.) JC.
10. Pedro Zazueta, rhp, Amphitheater HS, Tucson.
11. Joel Vega, lhp, Ohio Dominican College.
12. Jeff Waldron, c, Boston College.
13. Les Walrond, lhp, University of Kansas.
14. Timothy Bowers, ss, Gulf Coast (Fla.) CC.
15. John Hernandez, of, Xaverian HS, Brooklyn.
16. Scott Prather, lhp, Georgia Tech.
17. Matt Gargano, rhp, Dixie (Utah) JC.
18. Esix Snead, of, University of Central Florida.
19. Travis Held, rhp, University of Central Florida.
20. Chris Kelly, 3b, Catawba (N.C.) College.
21. Jim Molina, of, Florida International University.
22. Mike Rerick, lhp, University of North Dakota.
23. Andy Shibilo, rhp, Pepperdine University.
24. Richard Gonzales, rhp, University of New Mexico.
25. Jon Hand, rhp, Virgina Tech.
26. Stephen Parker, rhp, Key West (Fla.) HS.
27. Ryan Christianson, rhp, University of Nebraska-Omaha.
28. Jason Marr, rhp, Long Beach State University.
29. Jeffrey Viles, rhp, Rockhurst (Mo.) College.
30. Eric Gutshall, rhp, Yale University.
31. Troy McNaughton, rhp, Brigham Young University.
32. Troy Farnsworth, 2b, Brigham Young University.
33. Tommy Kidwell, 2b, Yale University.
34. John Boyer, ss, Bonneville HS, Ogden, Utah.
35. Dustin Hawkins, of, Bonneville HS, Ogden, Utah.
36. Andrew Ecklund, c, San Luis Obispo (Calif.) HS.
37. Brent Cordell, c, Incline HS, Incline Village, Nev.
38. Seth Jerue, ss, Westfield (Mass.) HS.
39. Victor Buttler, of, Westchester HS, Hawthorne, Calif.
40. Scott Neal, of, North HS, Bakersfield, Calif.
41. Jusin Knoedler, c, Springfield (Ill.) HS.
42. Brandon Tisher, 1b, Durango (Colo.) HS.
43. Scott Sorenson, rhp, Fruita Monument HS, Grand Junction, Colo.
44. Matt Harvick, c, North HS, Bakersfield, Calif.
45. Matt Van Alsburg, of, Fort Collins (Colo.) HS.
*Source: Baseball America Draft Almanac

Jason Scott can be reached via email at

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