Mariners Almost Didn’t Draft Griffey Jr.

Griffey Jr
Photo Credit: Associated Press

Ken Griffey Jr. was the number one overall selection by the Seattle Mariners in the 1987 amateur draft. After a career in which he slashed .284/.370/.538 including 630 homers and winning nine gold gloves he received 99-percent of the votes for enshrinement into Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

Coming out of high school the baseball world was well aware of the five tool potential of Junior as he starred for Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati Ohio.

Despite the glowing scouting reports former Seattle Mariners General Manager Chuck Armstrong tells Major League Baseball Network Radio that he Junior wasn’t the clear cut choice for the Mariners.

Hear the full interview with Armstrong here:

Back in 1987 Mariners owner George Argyros was attempting to purchase the San Diego Padres; therefore, then Commissioner  Peter Ueberroth put the Mariners in trust and made Chuck Armstrong the Chief Executive Officer.

One caveat to the arrangement was that Armstrong and company still had to get permission for all moves from Argyros.  As the draft approached in the M’s had four players targeted (Junior, Mike Harkey, Mark Merchant, and Willie Blanks).

According to Armstrong the choice to select Junior with the overall number one pick was met with resistance by Argyros who preferred the team select Harkey who was a college player and closer to the big leagues than the raw high schooler Junior.

Drafting players in baseball requires thorough scouting but there is also a certain amount of luck involved. The Mariners front office was able to convince Argyros that Junior was the better selection than Harkey and the rest is history.


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