Long before his signing this offseason, the Yankees have had their eye on Gerrit Cole. The pitcher was their first round pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, but unfortunately for them, decided not to sign. That was a smart move on his part, as just three years later, he was the number one overall pick.
Years later, the Yankees have righted that wrong and signed Cole. However, throughout the years, there have been plenty of times the Yankees have made smart picks only to not reap the rewards with that player wearing pinstripes in the majors. With that in mind, here is a lineup of players who were selected by the Yankees who never reached the major leagues with them.
C: Brad Ausmus
The former Tigers and Angels manager had a 18-year playing career, and had a reputation as both a great defender and excellent game caller. Prior to any of that, he was a member of the Yankees’ organization after they selected him in the 48th round in 1987. He made it all the way to triple-A before he was selected by the Rockies in the 1992 expansion draft.
1B: Fred McGriff
Yes, he was blocked by Don Mattingly, and yes first base wasn’t a position where the Yankees lacked a good bat. However, the trade that sent McGriff to the Blue Jays was one of the worst in Yankees’ history. A year after selecting him in the ninth round in 1981, McGriff was shipped away for Tom Dodd and Dale Murray, causing them to miss out on a five-time All-Star first baseman.
2B: Justin Turner
Turner was a 29th round pick who opted not to sign when the Yankees selected him in 2005. It worked out for him as he jumped all the way to the 7th round the following year. After stints with the Orioles and Mets, Turner has become most known for his time with the Dodgers.
SS: Greg Gagne
Gagne was the Twins’ regular shortstop for their 1987 and 1991 World Series wins. Prior to that, he was a fifth round pick by the Yankees in 1979. He and two others were sent to Minnesota for Roy Smalley a couple years later. Smalley put up some decent numbers for the Yankees, but was eventually traded for a player to be named later and ended up back in Minnesota as a teammate of Gagne for the Twins’ ‘87 title.
3B: Howard Johnson
The two-time All-Star and ‘86 Met was actually selected as a pitcher by the Yankees in 1978, but didn’t sign. The next year, the Tigers selected him as a third baseman and he went on to play a 14-year career, most of which came at the hot corner. Who knows, maybe he missed out on a legendary pitching career had he signed with the Yankees.
LF: B.J. Surhoff
The Yankees selected Surhoff pretty highly, as he went in the fifth round out of high school in 1982. However, he parlayed a good college career at North Carolina into the first overall selection three years later. He would later spend a decent chunk of his career as a division rival of the Yankees with the Orioles.
CF: Fred Lynn
Lynn was an MVP level player for the Red Sox in the late 70s, although if the Yankees had played their cards differently, he could’ve been a member of the other half of the rivalry. They took him in the third round in 1970, but Lynn opted to attend USC, and was taken by Boston three years later. Maybe the Yankees could’ve had him had they taken him with one of their first two picks instead of Dave Cheadle or Richard Earle, whoever they are.
RF: Carl Everett
Everett breaking up Mike Mussina’s perfect game bid is one of the most heartbreaking baseball moments for me. In another universe, maybe that never happens because he’s on the same team as Mussina. Everett was the Yankees first round pick in 1990 and played a couple seasons in the system before the Marlins took him in the expansion draft in ‘92.
DH: Chris Davis
Not shockingly, Davis decided to go to college after the Yankees took him in the 50th and final round in 2004. He managed to vault all the way to the fifth round two years later, and has had a solid 12-year career, even if the last couple haven’t been great.
P: Steve Rogers
Rogers is an Expos legend, having made five All-Star appearances during his 13-year career, all of which was in Montreal. Before any of that happened, he was a 60th round pick in 1967 by the Yankees, but opted not to sign.
Who knows the butterfly effect had any of these nine ever worn the pinstripes, but it’s hard to say that they couldn’t have improved things somewhere along the way had they become Yankees.