In the 1992 MLB draft, Derek Jeter, out of Kalamazoo Central High School, was taken with the sixth overall pick by the New York Yankees, with whom he played his entire 20-year career. In those two decades, the Hall of Famer was the American League Rookie of the Year, a 14-time MLB All-Star, a five-time Gold Glove Award winner, a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and a two-time American League Hank Aaron Award winner. He won five World Series titles, taking home MVP honors in 2000, and racked up 3,465 career hits, good for sixth on the all-time list. Yeah, that’s a pretty solid career right there.
But what about the five guys taken before Derek Jeter in the ’92 draft? Well, in total, they combined for two All-Star appearances, zero World Series titles, and one player never even made it to the big leagues. While none of them even come close to matching up with the Yankees legend, let’s see how they stack up against one another as we rank the five players selected ahead of Derek Jeter in the 1992 MLB draft.
5. B.J. Wallace (Montreal Expos)
Derek Jeter played 2,747 games in his MLB career. B.J. Wallace, who was taken with the third overall pick in the 1992 MLB draft, played zero. A left-handed pitcher out of Mississippi State, Wallace set the Olympic record for strikeouts in a game with 14 in a U.S. win over Italy in Barcelona at the ’92 Games before embarking on his pro career, a career in which he never got out of the minors.
He played two seasons in the Expos’ system before an injury kept him from playing the entire ’95 campaign. He was selected by the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft ahead of the ’96 season and posted a 3-4 record for their Single-A team in Clearwater. He was signed by the Red Sox in 1997 but was released during spring training and never played again.
4. Chad Mottola (Cincinnati Reds)
While he certainly didn’t have the historic career that Derek Jeter enjoyed, Chad Mottola did make history at the 1992 MLB draft, becoming the first athlete from the University of Central Florida to be taken in the first round of any professional draft. He was chosen one spot ahead of Jeter with the number five pick by the Cincinnati Reds.
Mottola, mostly used as an outfielder, was the very definition of a journeyman. He was a very good minor-league player and was called up to the big leagues for the first time in 1996, playing 35 games for the Reds with three home runs and six runs batted in. But the .215 average wasn’t cutting it and he never played in Cincy again. Over the next 10 years, he was up and down from the majors to the minors with seven different franchises before retiring as a player and transitioning to coaching in 2007.
3. Paul Shuey (Cleveland Indians)
Right-handed relief pitcher Paul Shuey, who was an All-American at the University of North Carolina, was taken with the second overall pick in the 1992 MLB draft by the Cleveland Indians. He drew comparisons at one point to former Cincinnati Reds closer Rob Dibble but he became more of a setup man. Shuey debuted in the big leagues in 1994, a year before Derek Jeter, and went on to have a nice career, one that could have been better if he hadn’t suffered so many injuries.
He played nine years with the Indians, who then traded him to the Dodgers in 2002. He played parts of two seasons in LA but a hip injury forced him to retire following the 2003 season. He returned to baseball in 2007, appearing in 25 games for the Baltimore Orioles before again calling it quits. He gave up nine runs in the Orioles’ infamous 30-3 loss to the Rangers in 2007. In 476 career MLB games, Paul Shuey was 45-28 with a 3.87 ERA and 23 saves.
2. Jeffrey Hammonds (Baltimore Orioles)
An All-American outfielder from Stanford, Jeffrey Hammonds was taken with the fourth pick in the 1992 MLB draft by the Baltimore Orioles, with whom he spent the first six years of his career. Hammonds was first called up to the majors in 1993 and then placed sixth in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1994. He stayed in Baltimore until 1998, at which point he was traded to the Reds.
He played two years in Cincinnati before being traded to the Colorado Rockies in 2000, where he enjoyed his best season. He earned an MLB All-Star nod in his lone season in the Mile High City, hitting .335 with 20 home runs and 106 runs batted in. He then played for the Brewers, Giants, and Nationals before retiring in 2005. Hammonds ended his career with 824 hits, 2,641 less than Derek Jeter.
1. Phil Nevin (Houston Astros)
With the first pick in the 1992 MLB draft, the Houston Astros selected infielder Phil Nevin, who that same year won College World Series Most Outstanding Player for Cal State Fullerton, one of the top collegiate baseball programs in the country. While a top scout for the Astros was adamant that the team select Derek Jeter, Houston went with Nevin as they felt they could sign him for less and that he would be ready for the big leagues sooner.
Nevin debuted in MLB in 1995, the same year as Derek Jeter, but played in just 18 games for the Astros, who traded him to the Detroit Tigers later that year as the relationship between the former No. 1 pick and team management had grown volatile. From 1995 to the end of his playing career in 2006, Nevin played for seven different teams, his most successful years coming with the San Diego Padres. In 2001, the year after Derek Jeter’s World Series MVP performance, he earned his first and only MLB All-Star selection, hitting .306 with 41 home runs and 126 runs batted in.
His son, Tyler, was drafted by the Rockies in 2015 and is currently working his way through the minor leagues. Phil Nevin now serves as the third base coach for none other than the New York Yankees.
*All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference