Scouting reports detail early careers of Jeter, Walker
For Larry Walker, a sports career was never in doubt. But baseball came as a surprise.
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The Maple Ridge, British Columbia, native was born with a proverbial hockey stick and skates, and spent much of his youth dreaming of and training to become an NHL goalie. He played in neighborhood games alongside future Boston Bruins All-Star Cam Neely and twice attended tryouts for Junior A Western Hockey League teams, but only received an offer from a Junior B team.
Jon Neiderer, a scout for the California Angels, called him an “athletic natural, with all the tools to play the game at a high level.” The Angels had the eighth pick in the draft that year, and Neiderer wrote he “would love to take [Jeter] with our first pick,” predicting that the shortstop would break into the majors by the time he turned 21.
Unfortunately for Neiderer and the Angels, Jeter was already off the board by the time it was their turn to pick in June: The Yankees drafted him with the sixth pick overall, and they later signed him for $800,000.
Prior to the draft, many teams expressed concerns that Jeter might choose to forego signing in favor of attending college, particularly given that the 3.8 GPA student had expressed a desire to study medicine at the University of Michigan. In response to those worries, Yankees Midwest scout Dick Groch proclaimed that “the only place Derek Jeter’s going is to Cooperstown.”
Twenty-eight years later, Groch was spot on.
Isabelle Minasian is the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum