The five men that went before Derek Jeter in '92

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jeter running out of box.jpgIn a recent piece for the New York Times, Tyler Kepner traveled back in history for a look at the 1992 MLB Draft, when Derek Jeter was selected sixth overall by the Yankees.  Kepner spoke to the scouts that drafted Jeter and others who were present and conscious of the Yanks’ thinking when the future Hall of Famer was snatched.  It’s a great read and a great story, especially when you consider the five names that came off the board before Jeter:

1st overall.  Phil Nevin – 3B – Astros: Nevin was a stud in college for Cal State-Fullerton and lasted 12 years in the major leagues.  He finished his career with a .270 batting average, 208 home runs and 743 RBI in 1217 games.  Now he manages the Tigers’ Double-A affiliate in Erie, Pennsylvania.

2nd overall.  Paul Shuey – RHP – Indians: The reliever had several quality seasons and finished with a 3.87 ERA in 476 career appearances for the Tribe, Dodgers and Orioles.  Of course, Cleveland didn’t draft him with the hope that he would turn into a mediocre middle reliever and he threw his last major league pitch in 2007.

3rd overall.  B.J. Wallace – LHP – Expos: Wallace was a strikeout machine during his days at Mississippi State University and had a superb opening season in the Single-A Florida State League in 1993.  But injuries plagued him often and he failed to ever reach the major leagues.  By 1996 he was out of baseball altogether.

4th overall.  Jeffery Hammonds – OF – Orioles: Considered a five-tool player when he was selected out of Stanford University, Hammonds shot quickly through the O’s system and made his MLB debut in 1993.  He failed to ever live up to the hype, though, and hung up his cleats in 2005 with a .272/.338/.449 career batting line in 957 games.

5th overall.  Chad Motolla – OF – Reds: Motolla didn’t debut with the Reds until late 1996 and played in only 59 major league games.  He’s better known for his success in the minor leagues, where he’s among the all-time leaders in hits and RBI.  Now 38, he works as a hitting coach in the Blue Jays’ system.

Some guys — and some clubs, really — just have all the luck.  Jeter, 35, has a .387 career on-base percentage, a .458 slugging percentage, 2,820 hits and 311 stolen bases over his 15-plus professional seasons with the Yankees.  He debuted in 1995 and is currently batting .301/.350/.435 with six home runs, 34 RBI and six steals in 242 at-bats.  This year’s amateur draft begins on Monday.  The Nationals, of course, are on the clock and are fully expected to draft 17-year-old catcher Bryce Harper.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.