Not many people know who Fernando Arango is, but Albert Pujols certain does. Arango was once a scout for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and was introduced to Pujols‘ potential while the young man played shortstop at Fort Osage High in Independence, Mo.
Immediately Arango knew what he had as far as a pure hitter.
The Devil Rays brought Pujols in for a personal workout before the 1999 MLB Draft on Arango‘s request, and he put on a hitting clinic at the plate.
There was just one problem – the Devil Rays saw a catcher in Pujols, not a third or first basemen like the young man envisioned for himself. So naturally, the Devil Rays let the Cardinals take the then-21-year-old from the Dominican Republic with the number 402 overall selection.
The rest is pure history, or misery for the Tampa Bay organization that should have had a gold mine in Pujols. They could have taken him anytime before the 13th round of the draft, which were about 13 rounds late of where Pujols should have been selected.
Pujols has finished in the top four in voting for the National League MVP every year of his career, winning once in ‘05 and coming in second three times (‘02, ‘03 and ‘06). He also won NL Rookie of the Year in ‘01 and is a five-time All-Star. On top of that, he‘s also been a solid role model, a franchise player in his mid-20s and a superstar to boot.
Pujols is the only player in MLB history to hit 30 home runs in each of his six seasons (01‘-06‘) and the fastest to reach 19 home runs in a season. He is, in other words, an absolute marvel to watch at the plate.
Besides all the individual achievements, Pujols is also the consummate professional and team player. It‘s no surprise that St. Louis has been in contention virtually every year they‘ve filled out “Pujols” at first base of their everyday lineup card.
After being swept by the Boston Red Sox in ‘04, Pujols helped the Cards beat the Detroit Tigers to win their 10th World Series title in franchise history just two years later.
These days, Arango is the Latin American scouting director for the Brewers. He left the Devil Rays shortly after Pujols went undrafted, because he started to question whether or not he had what it took to be a scout when Pujols fell so far in the draft.
Oh, if Arango only knew what the future held for Pujols when he first laid eyes on the potential superstar in ‘99.
Player profile, season and career stats as well as photos.MLB.com Player Page
Multimedia highlights on Albert Pujols, stats and bio.
Complete in-depth look at Albert Pujols’ career both on and off the field.
Fantasy analysis, player updates and stats.
Scouting report, stats and small player profile.
News and Commentary
Cardinals rule baseball world after claiming World Series from Tigers
Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Detroit Tigers in 2006 to claim their 10th World Series in franchise history.
No telling how high Pujols can go
In this 2006 article from USA Today columnist Mike Lopresti wondered aloud how high Albert Pujols’ Major League career can go.
Cards’ Pujols blasts off
Just as fast as Barry Bonds is falling farther from awe in spectators’ eyes, Albert Pujols is rising faster to take his place.
Pujols finally breaks through
After taking a backseat to Barry Bonds in the NL MVP voting, Albert Pujols finally took home some hardware of his own in 2005.
Coming off MVP season, Pujols is Card-carrying superstar
Albert Pujols is quickly becoming not only the best player in the MLB on a consistent basis, but also a superstar to fans and the media.