The Reds Scout Who Nearly Landed Derek Jeter To Go With Barry Larkin

You’ve probably never heard of Reds’ scout Gene Bennett, but he nearly had the team draft two MLB Hall of Fame shortstops in seven years. Bennett, who is from Portsmouth, Ohio, was on the trail of Barry Larkin as a high school player and eventually talked the team into drafting the future HOFer.
What you might not know is how the Reds would’ve also landed Derek Jeter if they would’ve only listened to the legend who scouted for the team since 1958. Bennett knew what the Reds had in Larkin and saw a near clone in Jeter, but the scout was ultimately overruled in the 1992 draft.

The Jeter case remains a sore spot in Bennett’s usually sunny disposition. “I had a deal worked out with him already,” Bennett said. “A cross checker came in and looked him and saw him play and said ‘He’s all right but he ain’t no first round pick.’ [Cross-checkers] are the smart guys that would come in and see a guy pitch two innings and bat twice, and they was the judge and the jury.”
It was only during the 1992 amateur draft that Bennett learned that the Reds would not use their first pick (#5 overall) on Derek Jeter.  “They said, ‘The Cincinnati Reds take Chad Mottola,’ and I said, [sarcastically], ‘Yeah, the Cincinnati Reds just took Babe Ruth, too.’ Then real quick I heard them say, ‘New York Yankees take Derek Jeter,’ and I said ‘Holy cow!’”

The scout who overruled Bennett was Julian Mock, who was scouting director and reported directly to Marge Schott. The Reds front office was so disfunctional during the Schott period that GM Bob Quinn left the pick up to Mock.
Mottola played 35 games for the Reds. You know how the rest of this story goes. Of course Larkin would win the 1995 MVP and finished his career in 1994 at 40 years of age. What would’ve become of Jeter? See below — Bennett suggested that the team could turn him into a centerfielder.

Bennett’s final report on Jeter filed just days before the draft. Jeter was 17.


Bennett, who had been tracking Larkin since 1982, got 1985 started with a “can play in ML” declaration.



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