Baseball's draft continues at noon today, beginning with Round 4. A quality player, as history has shown, can be found in the later rounds.

Let's go to 1999 for arguably the best example of a hidden gem. That's when the St. Louis Cardinals selected Albert Pujols in the 13th round (No. 402 overall). The first baseman, called up at the beginning of the 2001 season, has become one of the league's most feared hitters.

Veteran righthander John Smoltz, now with the Boston Red Sox, was picked in the 22d round (No. 574) by the Detroit Tigers in 1985.

In 1978, Ryne Sandberg was selected by the Phillies in the 20th round (No. 511). He debuted at shortstop for the Phils and was traded to the Chicago Cubs before the 1982 season, along with Larry Bowa, for Ivan DeJesus. In 1983, the Cubs made him their second baseman.

And few can forget the Los Angeles Dodgers' landing future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza in the 62d round (No. 1,390) in 1988. The product of Phoenixville High finished his career with a .308 batting average, 1,335 RBIs, 1,048 runs scored, and 427 home runs.

Surgery for Putz

New York Mets reliever J.J. Putz underwent surgery yesterday to remove a bone spur and fragments of bone from his right elbow. The Mets said he expected to start throwing in about six weeks.

Putz, acquired from Seattle in the off-season to be Francisco Rodriguez's setup man, was put on the 15-day disabled list Friday after going 1-4 with a 5.22 ERA and two saves.

Cameron's punishment

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Mike Cameron received a two-game suspension for making contact with home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson after arguing a called third strike in Saturday's 3-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.

He immediately appealed the ruling, a club spokesman said yesterday.