SBJ/June 8 - 14, 1998/No Topic Name

MLB draft: Cards step up to the plate to face Boras, Drew

The St. Louis Cardinals needn't look far back in their draft history to justify the pair of high-risk, potentially high-return moves they made last week when they selected J.D. Drew in the first round and Chad Hutchinson in the second.

Last year, they used their second-round pick to take Rick Ankiel, a left-handed high school pitcher with nasty stuff who slipped all the way through the first round because clubs feared his high price tag.

In spite of the relatively low draft slot, the club had to give Ankiel a $2.5 million bonus, which turned out to be the second highest paid in the draft, to get him to pass up a scholarship to Miami. Two nights before this year's draft session opened, Ankiel threw a one-hitter for Class A Prince William.

"Their owner got rewarded with Ankiel last year because he turned out to be what we said he was," said Scott Boras, the in-the-news agent who was Ankiel's legal adviser last year and who this year will work for both Drew and Hutchinson. "They got a far better player than you're supposed to get at that point in the draft. They got value. I think they saw the opportunity to do it again this year and it made sense."

Signing both Drew and Hutchinson will be an expensive proposition — one that easily could cost the Cardinals upwards of $6 million. Drew's stance is well-documented. Hutchinson is a football quarterback who likely will ask for something close to the equivalent of the signing bonus he'd get if he developed into a premium NFL prospect. The only quarterback taken in the NFL's first round in 1997, Jim Druckenmiller, got a contract worth about $7.5 million spread across six years.

The Cardinals likely will be able to bring Hutchinson on board for far less if they're willing to let him continue with football, but getting an exclusive commitment — like the one Josh Booty gave the Marlins when he got a $1.6 million bonus that was a record in 1994 — might require paying Hutchinson the second largest bonus of this draft. Second only to Drew.

"Sometimes, you have to take a risk to succeed," said Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty. "It's a gutsy move. But our ownership is behind us 100 percent."

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