Denfeld News

Dec. 10, 2009
Duluth News Tribune

St. Louis selects Duluth native Jukich in MLB Rule 5 draft

The St. Louis Cardinals selected pitcher Ben Jukich with the 16th pick in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft today.

Jukich, a 2001 Duluth Denfeld High School graduate currently playing baseball in a Dominican Republic winter league, spent the 2009 season with the Louisville Bats, the Class AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.

Jukich, 27, said he spoke with the Cardinals today and is awaiting word on their immediate winter baseball plans for him. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound lefty has been in the Dominican Republic since Oct. 8 and is hoping to compete for a spot in the Cardinals' starting rotation in 2010.

"You've got to keep in mind that the organization might have a different plan for you," Jukich said. "I'm just excited for an opportunity to pitch at the big-league level — not that I didn't get a chance with Cincinnati. Now, I'm going in to spring training trying to earn a fifth [starter] spot."

The Rule 5 draft was put in place to prevent teams from hoarding young players in the minor leagues and give other clubs a chance to keep them on a major league roster.

Jukich was 9-6 with a 4.10 ERA, 106 strikeouts and 40 walks in 29 games — 17 starts and 123 innings — for Louisville in 2009.

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