Original drafting team: Yankees; Signed with: Red Sox; Summary: Lynn's family warned teams to not draft him out of high school, stating his desire to play football and baseball at Southern Cal, but the idea of passing on the 6-foot-1 star was too much for New York in 1970. The Yankees' subsequent offer, though, was not enough to keep Lynn from heading to the college ranks. Five years later, after being selected in the second round by the rival Red Sox, Lynn won the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year as a 23-year-old superstar outfielder. Lynn posted six straight All-Star seasons in Boston before successful stints with the Angels and Orioles, while the Yankees didn't find a long-term solution in center until trading for Rickey Henderson -- nearly a decade after Lynn's MVP season.
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Original drafting team: Mets; Signed with: Cubs; Summary: After turning down the Mets' offer as an eighth-round pick out of high school, Palmeiro went on to become one of the most successful baseball players in Southeastern Conference history, winning the Triple Crown at Mississippi State. The stock boost landed him in the first round of the 1985 draft, joining the Cubs system, where he would grow into an All-Star talent. Palmeiro went on to join the 500-homer club and post All-Star numbers for three different teams, but never for the Mets. New York won a World Series in Palmeiro's rookie season and received quality first-base play from Keith Hernandez, Dave Magadan and John Olerud, but never at Palmeiro's All-Star consistency.
AFP/Getty ImagesDAN LEVINE
Original drafting team: Orioles; Signed with: Padres; Summary: Much like Reggie Jackson, Winfield's multi-sport talents influenced his decision to bypass signing with the Orioles (40th round) out of the prep ranks. The 6-foot-6 athlete excelled at baseball, basketball and football -- he's one of only four athletes to ever be drafted in three different professional sports -- but the No. 4 overall pick in 1973 MLB Draft eventually signed with San Diego, where he started a run of 12 consecutive All-Star nods en route to the Hall of Fame. The Orioles, on the other hand, had to wait a few years, but in 1977 they promoted their own Hall of Fame first baseman: Eddie Murray.
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Original suitors: Giants, Twins, Orioles; Signed with: Athletics; Summary: Jackson's high-school status predated MLB's Draft, but as a highly touted prep athlete his story fits the general narrative. Jackson's football prospects -- he was recruited by the likes of Alabama and Oklahoma -- delayed his baseball future, as he spurned offers from the Giants and Twins out of to play at Arizona State. When he tried out for the Sun Devils' baseball team, his coach placed him on an Orioles amateur team to hone his skills … and the Orioles subsequently tried to sign him. He declined (he later played one season in Baltimore), the third such offer he turned down. The Athletics drafted Mr. October with the second overall pick in 1966, starting a decorated MLB career (563 career home runs) that culminated in a Hall of Fame induction.
Original drafting team: Cardinals; Signed with: Brewers; Summary: Few players' stocks have skyrocketed in college ball quite like Molitor's did in the mid-70s. The California product was a 28th round pick of the Cardinals out of the high-school ranks, but chose to take his talents to the University of Minnesota. By the time the 1977 draft rolled around, the Brewers took him with the No. 3 overall pick -- nabbing a future Hall of Famer that hit a career .306/.369/.382 and made seven All-Star appearances. The 1980s Cardinals teams ended up in good hands with eventual NL MVP Terry Pendleton, but Molitor would have been a significant upgrade.
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Original drafting team: Tigers; Signed with: Padres; Summary: The Wizard could have been doing backflips in Detroit. A seventh-round pick by the Tigers out of high school, Smith declined Detroit's $8,500 bonus offer -- a mere $1,500 off his asking price -- and elected to go to Cal Poly. With one year of college ball under his belt, Smith grew into a fourth-round pick by the Padres. He won two Gold Gloves in San Diego before being traded to St. Louis, where hit his Hall of Fame stride. The good news for the Tigers: They were already in good hands at shortstop with six-time All-Star and World Series MVP Alan Trammell.
Getty ImagesRich Pilling
Original drafting teams: Dodgers, Braves; Signed with: Mets; Summary: Seaver's first step toward baseball immortality is fascinating. After the Dodgers refused to match the right-hander's bonus demands as a high-schooler, the Braves took Seaver in the 1966 draft. The Southern Cal product even signed with Atlanta, but commissioner William Eckert voided the deal because USC played two exhibitions -- games that Seaver did not participate in. With the NCAA stripping Seaver of his eligibility (he signed a contract) and a lawsuit threatening, Eckert changed his mind but allowed teams to match Braves' offer. Three clubs matched, and the Mets won Seaver's rights in a lottery drawing. Tough break for Atlanta. Seaver went on to win three Cy Young Awards with New York, logging 54 of his 311 career wins against the Braves and Dodgers.
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Original drafting team: Braves; Signed with: Expos; Summary: Make that two first-ballot Hall of Famers the Braves just missed on. Atlanta offered Johnson a $50,000 bonus after drafting him in the fourth round out of high school, but the gangly southpaw elected to accept an athletic scholarship to play basketball and baseball at Southern Cal. The Expos later took Johnson in the second round of the 1984 draft -- the Braves selected right-hander Tommy Greene over Johnson with their first-round pick in '84 -- and while the Braves' eventual rotation ended up with three first-ballot Hall of Famers, not signing a five-time Cy Young Award winner raises the question: What could have been? The fact that Johnson tossed his perfect game against Atlanta in 2004 only adds insult to injury.
MLB Photos via Getty ImagesRob Leiter
Original drafting team: Mets; Signed with: Red Sox; Summary: While the Mets were fortunate to land Tom Seaver, missing out on signing Roger Clemens, then just a hard-throwing righty out of San Jacinto College, still begs what-if scenarios. The Mets drafted Rocket in the 12th round of the 1981 draft but were unable to agree to contract terms, with Clemens electing to honor his commitment to the University of Texas. The rest does not break in the Mets' favor. Clemens was drafted 19th overall by the Red Sox in 1983 and even worse: New York took Eddie Williams, a sub-replacement level infielder, ahead of him in that draft, watching as he went on to win a record seven Cy Young Awards with Boston, New York, Toronto and Houston. A hypothetical mid- to late-80s Mets rotation featuring Clemens and Doc Gooden is terrifying.
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Original drafting team: Giants; Signed with: Pirates; Summary: The Giants, of course, got their man in the end. Still, after drafting the sweet-swinging outfielder in the second round of the 1982 draft, San Francisco and Bonds reportedly came a mere $5,000 short of a bonus deal, which could have potentially locked up a generational talent for his entire career. Bonds chose the college route, dominated at Arizona State and was drafted by the Pirates at No. 6 overall in 1985, winning two MVP awards before moving to San Francisco in free agency. He captured his final five MVPs with the Giants, hitting a ridiculous .312/.477/.666 to cap off his illustrious career.