Today in Yankees history: The Captain is drafted

With the first-year player draft on the horizon, young players are on their heels hoping to hear their name selected, so they can embark on their journeys to the pros. On this day 25 years ago, a young man that goes by the name of Derek Jeter heard his name called as the sixth overall pick by the New York Yankees.
Photo Credit: Flickr 

The Yankees had their eyes set on Jeter, but were not totally certain that he would be available by the time their pick came around. The Houston Astros had the first overall pick and Hall of Fame pitcher and Astros scout Hal Newhouser was arguably the biggest Derek Jeter fan in baseball.  Newhouser thought that Jeter could be the cornerstone of whichever franchise drafted him and saw excruciating potential in the young shortstop. The Astros passed up on Jeter in fear that they could not afford him. The feared he could request upwards of a million dollars to forgo his college scholarship. They instead drafted Phil Nevin who signed for 700,000 dollars. As a result, Newhouser quit his job as an Astros scout.

Yankees scout Dick Groch watched Jeter play at a showcase at Western Michigan University and had similar feelings towards him as Newhouser did. The Yankees biggest fear was that he would want further development and pursue his college offer from the University of Michiagn, but Groch convinced them otherwise and the Yankees selected Jeter sixth overall and signed him for a bonus of 800,000 dollars. It was only 100,000 more than what the Astros signed Nevin for.

The players picked between Jeter and Nevin were Paul Shuey, BJ Wallace, Jeffery Hammonds, and Chad Mottola. Never heard of any of them? That is not surprising as Wallace never stepped on a Major League field, Shuey was an average reliever over a decade of seasons, Hammonds was a decent player, but never surpassed 500 at-bats and had a lone All-Star appearance, and finally Mottola hit .200 in minimal at-bats in the Majors. None of them ever won a World Series nor garnered MVP votes. Jeter alone won five Fall Classics and had MVP votes in twelve of his twenty seasons.

Both Newhouser and Groch were spot on about Derek, whose demeanor, approach, and leadership were vital to the World Series titles that the Yankees won during his playing career. The Astros passed up on a guy that ended up with 3,465 hits, fourteen All-Star appearances, and five Gold Gloves. A couple hundred thousand dollars is worth a guy who will go down as one of baseball’s best and will inevitably be enshrined into Cooperstown, when his time comes.
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Players like Jeter illustrate how unpredictable the MLB draft is compared to other sports like football and basketball. How many World Series could the teams that had pick one through five have won if they picked the shortstop from New Jersey? Would the Yankees have won any of their five without Jeter? The world will never know as history has happened, and thanks to a few poor draft choices, number two will forever live in the hearts of all Yankee fans. 

Article by: Ryan Thoms



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