Derek Jeter Prospect Retro
Derek Jeter was drafted in the first round in 1992, sixth overall, out of high school in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was considered to be a fine defensive shortstop and a terrific overall athlete, likely to hit for average and show good glovework, though there was some uncertainty about how much power he would show with wood. He was sent to the Gulf Coast Rookie League after signing, and he did not do very well, hitting just .202/.290/.312 in 47 games. He did not make Baseball America's Gulf Coast League prospect list. The guys who did: Johnny Damon, Brandon Cromer, Edgar Renteria, Jim Pittsley, Jose Silva, Rafael Guerrero, Trey Beamon, Danny Clyburn, Jose Vidro, and Jason Kendall.
The Yankees remained high on him however, moving him up to Greensboro in the South Atlantic League for 1993. He did much better, hitting .295/.370/.394....he hit just 5 homers, but contributed 14 doubles, 11 triples, and 18 steals, with 56 walks against 95 strikeouts in 515 at-bats. He ranked 11th in the league in hitting, and impressed scouts and managers enough to be named the Number Two prospect in the Sally Circuit by BA.
He made 56 errors, but scouts thought that his reliability would improve with experience.
Jeter began 1994 with Class A Tampa, hitting .329/.380/.428 in 69 games. This earned him a promotion to Double-A, where he hit .377 in 34 games. He followed that up by hitting .349 in 35 games in Triple-A. Although he hit just five homers all season, he hit 27 doubles and 11 triples. He also made 25 errors, cutting his '93 rate in half. His plate discipline was excellent. Eddie Epstein gave him a Grade A in the 1995 Minor League Scouting Notebook, and rated him the Number Two prospect in baseball behind A-Rod.
Jeter spent almost all of 1995 in Triple-A, hitting .317/.394/.422 in 123 games. He hit just two homers, but 27 doubles and nine triples with 20 steals was good, and his MLE showed him as a .295 hitter at the major league level, excellent considering his age. I gave him a Grade A in the '96 book and rated him as the Number Four prospect in baseball, behind Johnny Damon, Paul Wilson, and Andruw Jones.
Jeter hit .314/.370/.430 with the Yankees in 1996, including 10 homers. He got progressively better as a hitter, developing substantial power to go with his speed and on-base abilities. His batting average and OBP development was exactly what you'd expect given his minor league record and age-relative-to-league factors. He developed a bit more home run power than you might expect, granted that the offensive context of the late 90s and early `00s helped in that department.
Comparable Players to Derek Jeter