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Cards take chance with Pujols' cousin

Cards take chance with Pujols' cousin

ST. LOUIS -- Whether he's anywhere near the level of his cousin remains to be seen, but the Cardinals didn't want to take the risk of somebody else finding out.

St. Louis drafted Wilfrido Pujols, the first cousin of superstar Albert Pujols, in the sixth round of the First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday.

The elder Pujols, who was the 2003 NL batting champion and has already finished in the top five in MVP balloting four times, was a 13th-round draft pick in 1999. By 2001, he was abusing Major League pitching.

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Like Albert, Wilfrido Pujols attended Fort Osage High School in the Kansas City area. Albert Pujols went on to play junior college ball at Maple Woods College, also near Kansas City, but the Cards figured they wouldn't wait on the younger cousin. Wilfrido, a right fielder, is the son of Albert's father's brother.

Wilfrido Pujols stands 6-foot-1, and he won't turn 18 until September.

"I told him it's not about the name, it's about the work," said Albert Pujols. "If he can stay healthy and work hard, he'll be fine."

Albert Pujols spent only one full season in the Minor Leagues, progressing from low Class A Peoria all the way to Triple-A Memphis in 2000. He dazzled in Spring Training 2001, forcing his way onto the Major League club.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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