Eddie Zosky – 1992 Upper Deck

January 21, 2011

“Um, Hey, I’m Supposed To Be Here, Right?”

As I said way long time ago in my Sil Campusano essay, Toronto had more than their fair share of hyped prospects that flamed out in spectacular fashion.

Eddie Zosky was one that burst into flames of crimson, orange, and blue.

I had a Zosky jersey, back a few years ago, before I realized that I was a grown man gaining weight and wearing double knits that were worn by baseball players 10 years ago wasn’t the great fashion coup that I thought it was and I should grow up and do something else…

…like collect baseball cards.

Anyways, Zosky had a great name; Zosky screams ‘old school baseball’. Zosky was the 19th overall pick in the 1989 draft, and he was hustled along with great speed. He was ‘composed’ enough to start right away in AA out of Fresno State. Tony Fernandez (who should be remembered more fondly than he is) was the starter, but the Jays wanted a better defender and younger player. So they were fast-tracking Zosky.

In 1990, he repeated AA, hitting .271. Baseball America named him the #22 prospect. And it was said he could ‘pick it’, already. But he committed 31 errors at Knoxville.

Zosky was ‘tabbed’ to be the starting SS, but Manny Lee beat him out in the Spring, mainly due to some yips in the field. Eddie went to AAA, and hit .263, then enjoyed a September call-up. He got his first action when Manny Lee asked out of the lineup due to dizziness and Zosky singled. In the “Sportswriters Should Just Stop the Stupid Hyperbole” award category, the Toronto Star’s Dave Perkins compared Lee to Wally Pipp.

Gag.

But, Zosky’s the sure starter in 1992, right? He was still a top 100 prospect, and had to be better than Lee.

Um, no. When you hit .151 and throw the ball all over Dunedin, you get demoted again. Zosky started out in a horrid slump, and while he rebounded it showed that he really had no secondary skills in his offense: no power, no on-base ability, and not much speed or base stealing ability.

But he got more big league time and got to jump in the pile at the end of 1992. And yet again, he was tabbed to take away the starting shortstop job away from Manny Lee in 1993.

This time for sure! Because Lee wasn’t a Blue Jay anymore. And Eddie hit .326 in the Arizona Fall League!

But Zosky had some elbow problems, so Toronto signed Alfredo Griffin and Dick Schofield and traded for Luis Sojo. Zosky had to be shut down, and when he returned he didn’t hit and still committed more errors than the Blue Jays wanted. So during 1993, Zosky was an afterthought, and the Blue Jays then turned to Alex Gonzalez to be their ‘shortstop of the future’ designate. (Zosky had to give away the crown and scepter, but kept the sash. I think he hung it from the mirror in his car.)

In 1994, he showed more power, but absolutely no patience at Syracuse. He also played more second than short. His future, if there was any, was as a utility man.

And so he became a journeyman utility player. He made the opening day roster for Florida in 1995, but that was due to the fact they allowed teams to carry 28 players the first few weeks of the season. Soon, he was down in the minors again.

He made a grand tour of organizations looking for a break: Florida, Baltimore, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Houston and Pittsburgh. His best chance to stick was with the Brewers. In 1998 he was the last cut, sent down to the minors at the last minute after the Brewers nabbed Eric Owens. He was called up in 1999 but didn’t stick on the 40-man and became a free agent. He was invited to spring training by Pittsburgh, sent to AAA and then traded to Houston in August. In September, he batted four times for the Astros, went 0-fer, was dropped off the roster, became a free agent, and then retired.

The Blue Jays gave Zosky every chance to grab the shortstop job and he never could. He may have set a major league record for the most consecutive years as the ‘shortstop of the future’ for one organization. It ain’t handed to you, though, kid, you gotta earn it.

 

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