Hall of Fame pre­view:

Mariners chose Grif­fey first over­all amid great fan­fare, while Pi­azza was an af­ter­thought for Dodgers

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - INSIDE - Dan Schloss­berg Spe­cial for USA TO­DAY Sports

As high­est- and low­est-round picks cho­sen for en­shrine­ment, Ken Grif­fey Jr. and Mike Pi­azza carved un­com­mon Coop­er­stown paths.

“I don’t know how we all missed on Mike.”

Bobby Cox was mus­ing about Mike Pi­azza, who vaulted from 62nd-round draft pick to the base­ball Hall of Fame.

“Some­times the lower draft picks are the best ones,” says the for­mer At­lanta Braves man­ager, who was en­shrined in Coop­er­stown in 2014. “You never know.”

The 2016 in­duc­tions, which will be held July 24, will fea­ture the high­est and the low­est draft picks ever cho­sen for the gallery of im­mor­tals.

Ken Grif­fey Jr. was picked first in the am­a­teur draft by the Seat­tle Mariners in 1987, while a year later Pi­azza was al­most an af­ter­thought, with 1,389 oth­ers cho­sen ahead of him.

“Not ev­ery first-round (pick) is a sure­fire thing, and not ev­ery high draft pick is a guy who’s not go­ing to make it,” says Hall of Fame left-han­der Tom Glavine, who won 305 games dur­ing a ca­reer spent mostly with Cox and the Braves, “but it’s so rep­re­sen­ta­tive of what base­ball is.

“All dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes can be suc­cess­ful in this game. Those two guys epit­o­mize that as much as any­body.”

Pi­azza never felt the bur­den of the 62nd-round se­lec­tion.

“I don’t feel like that was ex­tra pres­sure,” he told USA TO­DAY Sports. “But when I was start­ing to de­velop and mak­ing my mark as a ballplayer, there were nu­ances of nepo­tism be­cause of my re­la­tion­ship with (then-Los An­ge­les Dodgers man­ager) Tommy La­sorda and the fact he and my fa­ther were close.

“Once I proved I could play, those thoughts dis­solved.”

Pi­azza’s fa­ther, Vince, grew up with La­sorda in Nor­ris­town, Pa., and sug­gested to him that the Dodgers draft his son. They did, as a fa­vor to the fu­ture Hall of Fame man­ager, but didn’t con­tact the young slug­ger for al­most a month


Cam New­ton is the reign­ing MVP.


With 630 ca­reer homers, 13 All-Star ap­pear­ances and an MVP award, Ken Grif­fey Jr. met all of the lofty ex­pec­ta­tions that came with be­ing the top pick in 1987.

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