The baseball draft celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015, and what better way to look back on more than five decades of draft history than with Baseball America? Founding editor Allan Simpson has collected the best information from our rich archives and assembled it in the ultimate draft compendium. You’ll get complete draft lists from every year, with signing information, biggest successes and busts, the most signing bonus information ever published, and all the stories that make draft history so rich. The book will also include all the results from the 2016 draft.
To give you a taste, we’ll share some excerpts of the book each week.
Robin Yount was 18, less than a year out of high school, when Milwaukee Brewers manager Del Crandall spotted him for the first time.
“The talent was obvious,” Crandall said. “It was the fourth or fifth day of spring training, and I said to him, ‘You want some ground balls?’ He said yes. Well, you know how rough some of those Arizona infields are. He made this one look as smooth as glass by the way he was scooping up all those balls. I hit him 20 or 25, then walked over to (Brewers director of baseball operations) Jim Wilson and said to him, ‘Is there any possible reason why an 18-year-old kid can’t open up as our shortstop?’ Wilson said, ‘I don’t see why not.’ “
The rest was history. Yount, who hit .285 in 64 games at Newark of the short-season New York Penn League in his pro debut, opened the 1974 season in Milwaukee—the youngest player in the big leagues, playing a position that might have been the most demanding in the game. He was still five months shy of his 19th birthday.
The quiet but confident Yount survived four hitless games to begin his career, but held his own at the plate and in the field over the balance of the 1974 season, and went on to spend the next 19 years as a regular with the Brewers. He played the first 12 at shortstop, and the final eight as an outfielder when his powerful throwing arm began going lame.
A .285 hitter overall, Yount achieved his 3,000th career hit in 1992, becoming the third-youngest player in major league history to achieve the feat. He went on to collect 3,142, won two American League MVP awards, in 1982 and 1989, and still holds Brewers career records in most offensive records. He was selected to the Hall of Fame in 1999, in his first year of eligibility.
To Yount, age was never a factor when he broke in with the Brewers. “I don’t think about my age,” he said during his rookie season. “I can’t worry about how old I am. There are too many other things for me to think about.”
Yount hit .455 with three homers as a high school senior in Woodland Hills, Calif., and fanned 17 in nine innings of relief duty on his way to being named the Los Angeles city player of the year and the third pick in the draft. He was signed by Brewers scouting director Jim Baumer, who five years earlier signed Robin’s older brother Larry for the Houston Astros. “We had quite a go of it before he signed,” remembered Baumer. “They wanted more money than we were willing to give.”
Yount finally agreed to a $60,000 bonus on June 27, becoming one of the last first-rounders to sign, and passing on a college career at Arizona State. Less than a year later, when Yount was already Milwaukee’s starting shortstop, he quipped to Baumer, “See? I told you I should have been given more money.”
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