Sunday, October 17, 2010
Jeffrey Hammonds, 1992 Classic Draft Picks #4
While I'm away, I'm leaving you with a trio of Jeffrey Hammonds cards. Why? Well...why not? Today we begin at the beginning, when Jeffrey was a five-tool prospect from Stanford University upon whom Orioles fans could pin all of their hopes and dreams. The O's chose him with the fourth overall pick in June 1992, wedged between Montreal's pick of Mississippi State pitcher B.J. Wallace and Cincinnati;s choice of UCF outfielder Chad Mottola. When you consider that Wallace never made it past AA and Mottola hit only .200 in 59 career major league games (including six with the Orioles in 2004), Hammonds wasn't a total miss. Even playing the hindsight game, the first round of the 1992 draft was pretty underwhelming: look at this list and tell me who you'd rather have - Derek Jeter, Shannon Stewart, Johnny Damon, Charles Johnson, maybe Preston Wilson.
Of course the back of the card reminds you of what could have been. The stats show a .354 batting average over his sophomore and junior seasons for an elite NCAA program, with 20 homers, 90 RBI and 54 steals. Further research uncovered a PAC-10 Conference record 48 steals as a freshman and a 37-game hit streak. He also hit .414 in the 1992 Olympics. The gushing write-up mentions him in the same breath as Rickey Henderson and mentions the predominant opinion of baseball scouts that Jeffrey was "the best player in the nation". Back then, he probably was.