05/29/2003 12:06 PM ET
Looking back: 1993
A decade ago, the legend of A-Rod began
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
It might as well just be called the A-Rod Draft, for the 1993 First-Year Player Draft will forever be remembered for being Alex Rodriguez's ascension into professional baseball.
Amazing to think that a decade later, still young with a lot of baseball left in him at age 27, Rodriguez has pushed past 300 homers and has established himself as the game's best all-around player. With each step already seemingly pointed to Cooperstown, the once-skinny kid from Miami has done pretty well for himself.
But, then, A-Rod was nothing if not a can't-miss prospect coming out of Miami's Westminster Christian Prep back in '93.
The amateur baseball community took notice, making him a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award -- a rarity for a high school player. The professional baseball community definitely knew all about Rodriguez as he matured into one of the best prospects scouts had seen in some time.
He was a player with all the tools, evidenced by his nine home runs and 36 RBIs in 33 games as a senior, his 35 steals in 35 attempts and a body type and fielding presence at shortstop that reminded so many of Cal Ripken Jr.
With all that going for him, A-Rod was already mature enough to know he had the baseball world in his pocket, and he knew how to handle it.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime situation," Rodriguez said prior to the draft. "If I stopped and looked at all the positives I might stumble. I'm only 17 so I'll enjoy every moment, and play hard and play to win."
That's A-Rod, through and through: Substitute 27 for 17 in that quote, and you might hear the same thing today.
The Mariners already had hit the draft jackpot in 1987 when they selected Ken Griffey Jr. as the No. 1 overall pick. By 1993, Griffey had established himself as one of the game's superstars.
Getting their next superstar wasn't going to be easy. The Mariners narrowed their choice down to Rodriguez or Wichita State star pitcher Darren Dreifort -- the man who won that '93 Golden Spikes Award. They went with Rodriguez, and thus began a long, harrowing summer of negotiations.
Rodriguez had committed to the University of Miami, and it was said he'd have preferred to be drafted by a National League club so he could play at least a few games in Miami. The Mariners, of course, were as far away from Miami as physically possible in the U.S.
Agent Scott Boras was representing A-Rod two years after turning the baseball world on its ear by negotiating a $1.55 million signing bonus for No. 1 overall pick Brien Taylor, a left-handed pitcher the Yankees drafted and then watched fade into obscurity with arm problems. Negotiations between Boras and the Mariners went right up to hours before Rodriguez was slated to take his first class at Miami, which would have left the Mariners high and dry.
But on Aug. 30 the two sides agreed to a $1 million signing bonus and a three-year contract worth $1.3 million -- and the professional career of Alex Rodriguez had begun. (Rodriguez just last year made a little amends to the University of Miami with a $3.9 million donation to the school's baseball program, and he still plans to earn a degree there someday.)
Within a year, Rodriguez made his Major League debut on July 8, 1994, one month shy of his 19th birthday. After a few ups and downs, Rodriguez was a big-league star for good in 1996.
The rest is history. Or, more precise, history in the making.
Of course, there were other players drafted in 1993 -- a total of 1,721 players in 91 rounds, to be exact. And there were other stars to be found, including several in the first round.
Like any draft, 1993 had its first-rounders who fulfilled their Major League destinies, its first-round flops and its later-round gems. Here's a sampling:
First round to the Big Leagues
|Alex Rodriguez was selected No. 1 in the 1993 draft and the rest is history. (Osamu Honda/AP)
No. 2, RHP Darren Dreifort, Dodgers (Wichita State): Far from a bust, it's hard to say Dreifort has been able to live up to his potential so far, thanks to myriad injuries. But he's healthy now, and the Dodgers are glad to have him around this year.
No. 3, LHP Brian Anderson, Angels (Wright State): Now in his second stint with Cleveland, Anderson has racked up more than 200 appearances in the bigs and more than 180 of them as a starter.
No. 7, OF Trot Nixon, Red Sox (New Hanover HS, Wilmington, N.C.): Since coming up to the big leagues full time in 1999, Nixon has become a fixture in right field for Boston, earning team MVP honors in 2001 and playing in a career-high 152 games in 2002.
No. 12, LHP Billy Wagner, Astros (Ferrum College): With a ton of velocity packed into his 5-foot-11 frame, Wagner is pushing toward 200 saves and stands to become the team's all-time leader in that department as well as appearances before too long.
No. 14, 1B Derrek Lee, Padres (El Camino HS, Sacramento): Lee made it to the big leagues with the Padres but was shipped in the Kevin Brown deal to Florida prior to the 1998 season. He has blossomed in Florida, posting solid power numbers each of the last two seasons.
No. 20, OF Torii Hunter, Twins (Pine Bluff HS, Pine Bluff, Ark.): Selected for the first and probably not the last time to the All-Star Game in 2002, Hunter is a human highlight reel in center field and brings solid offensive numbers for the position as well.
Other notables: No. 4, RHP Wayne Gomes, Phillies; No. 10, OF/RHP Brooks Kieschnick, Cubs; No. 15, RHP Chris Carpenter, Blue Jays; No. 16, RHP Alan Benes, Cardinals; No. 19, RHP Jay Powell, Orioles; No. 21, C Jason Varitek, Twins (did not sign); No. 23, RHP Jeff D'Amico, Brewers; No. 28, RHP Jamey Wright, Rockies.
No. 8, RHP Kirk Presley, Mets (Mississippi State): A quarterback in college, he was considered a tough sign but the Mets got him for $900,000. Arm injuries ended his career.
No. 9, SS Matt Brunson, Tigers (Cherry Creek HS, Englewood, Colo.): After 2 1/2 years of struggling in the minors for the Tigers and then the Marlins, Brunson actually went back to football as a wide receiver at the University of Colorado.
No. 13, RHP Matt Drews, Yankees (Sarasota HS, Sarasota, FL): A 6-foot-8 pitcher who made some headway in the minors, his biggest claim to fame after being drafted was in being part of the trade that brought Cecil Fielder from Detroit to the Yankees in 1996.
3B Scott Rolen, Phillies, second round (46th overall): Not exactly a late-rounder, but a major star now with the Cardinals.
RHP Kevin Millwood, Braves, 11th round (320th overall): The ace of the Phillies with a no-hitter under his belt -- not bad for that low.
OF Jermaine Dye, Braves, 17th round (488th overall): Hampered by injuries the last couple of years with the A's but already a stellar career for that level of the draft.
1B Richie Sexson, Indians, 24th round (671st overall): How many 40-homer, 100-RBI guys do you normally find around this stage of the draft? Not many.
C Paul Lo Duca, Dodgers, 25th round (690th overall): An everyday catcher with a good bat at this level? Almost as good as finding Mike Piazza in the 62nd round ... almost.
Other noteables: RHP Matt Clement, Padres, third round; INF/OF Scott Spiezio, A's, sixth round; INF Mark Loretta, Brewers, seventh round; RHP John Thomson, Rockies, seventh round.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.