Players You Forgot Were Yankees: The Draftees
All week, we’ve chronicled more than three dozen players that you may have forgotten were Yankees from the 1970s through today, and despite the seemingly ignominious distinction, that list contained multiple All-Stars, dozens of solid players, and even one Hall of Famer.
Since we’re less than halfway into this decade, we didn’t feel it would be right to finish the series by chronicling “forgotten” Yankees from as little as four seasons ago – so instead, we figured, why not shed some light on guys who began their pro careers as Baby Bombers but didn’t quite “make it there” and instead made it somewhere else?
And so we have our final list, a look at 10 guys – some of whom actually did play at least a few games in pinstripes – that you may have forgotten were originally drafted by the Yankees.
One note, though: while this is indeed a list of Yankees draftees, it’s only a list of Yankees draftees that actually signed and played at least one game in the organization; therefore, even though they technically qualify, guys like Mark Prior (taken 43rd overall in 1998) and Bo Jackson (50th overall in 1982) will not be listed.
And now, on with the list of those that could have been…
Brad Ausmus: Would you believe that the recently-named manager of the Detroit Tigers is barely a quarter-century removed from being a Yankees draft pick? Indeed, Ausmus was a 48th round selection of the Yankees in 1987 and came up through the system, but he never made it to the Bronx – because the Rockies saw something in him and took him with the 54th pick in the 1992 Expansion Draft.
Carl Everett: Like Ausmus, Everett was a Yankee draftee who had his pinstripes plucked away; taken 10th overall in 1990, Everett had just finished a 1992 season split between the Yankees’ Class-A affiliates when the Marlins selected him with the 27th pick of the Expansion Draft. He debuted in Miami a year later, and after hitting .271 over 14 Major League seasons, he played four more in the independent Atlantic League before retiring after the 2010 season.
Rex Hudler: The 18th overall pick of the 1978 Draft, Hudler played 774 MLB games over 13 seasons but just 29 with the Yankees. Hudler hit .159 in 58 at-bats as a September call-up in 1984 and 1985, but was traded to Baltimore for outfielder Gary Roenicke in December 1985.
Mike Lowell: Fans remember that Lowell won rings with the 2003 Marlins and 2007 Red Sox, but he also won one with the 1998 Yankees. A 20th round pick in 1995, Lowell debuted as a September call-up in 1998, going 4-for-15 in eight games; he didn’t play in the postseason of course and was traded to Florida that winter, but just having a line is enough to have earned him a ring.
Fred McGriff: He finished just seven homers shy of 500, but can you imagine how many more “The Crime Dog” would have hit with his sweet lefty swing in Yankee Stadium? Alas, none of his 493 dingers came in pinstripes, as the ninth-round pick in 1981 never made it out of the Gulf Coast League before being traded to Toronto in December 1982.
Hal Morris: Surely, the Yankees hoped that Morris would turn out to be a very good Major Leaguer when they took him in the eighth round in 1986 – but with a full outfield and a guy named Mattingly installed at first base, he ended up as an odd man out. Morris did play 30 total games in pinstripes in 1988 and 1989, but was packaged and traded to the Reds for Tim Leary in December 1989.
Otis Nixon: The Yankees thought enough of Nixon to make him the third overall pick in the 1979 Draft, and although he proved them right – posting a .271 average and 620 steals in 17 seasons – only his first 13 games came in pinstripes. Nixon debuted as a September call-up in 1983 and went 2-for-14 with two steals in 13 games, but he was traded to Cleveland in February 1984 in a deal for infielder Toby Harrah.
Jose Rijo: Like Morris, Rijo won a ring with the 1990 Reds, but unlike Morris, he was technically signed as an amateur free agent in 1980. Either way, the righty came up through the system and debuted in 1984 – going 2-8 with a 4.76 ERA in 24 games – but he was traded to Oakland that winter in the seven-player deal that brought back Rickey Henderson.
Deion Sanders: Many remember when Sanders joined Otis Nixon in the Braves outfields of the early-1990s, but what many don’t remember is that it was “Prime Time” in the Bronx before that. Taken in the 30th round in 1988, Sanders didn’t waste any time getting to the Majors, debuting in May 1989; he hit just .178 in 71 games between 1989 and 1990, though, and “Prime Time” came to an end when he was released on September 24, 1990.
JT Snow: A fifth-round pick in 1989, Snow was, like Morris, a promising first baseman that happened to be stuck behind Don Mattingly; so, after debuting as a September call-up in 1992 and playing just seven games as a Yankee, Snow was traded to the Angels that December in a four-player deal for Jim Abbott – who, it just so happened, threw a no-hitter in pinstripes the next year.