WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW HIM:
The most anticipated shortstop prospect of the 1990s was Alex Rodriguez
. The most anticipated shortstop prospect of the 1980s was Tony Fernandez, a long-legged, side-armer who won four Gold Gloves for Toronto. Fernandez was from the Dominican Republic, which had produced the Alou brothers, Rico Carty
, and Cesar Cedeno
. According to legend, at a baseball clinic in their native country, a skinny 15-year old Fernandez told fellow Dominican Alfredo Griffin
that some day he would take his job. At the time, Griffin was a young shortstop for the Indians. A few years later, Fernandez replaced Griffin as shortstop for the Blue Jays. Fernandez was high-waisted with big feet, which made him look clumsy. But he was fluid and intuitive on defense, and his throwing arm was very strong. He had a habit of throwing the ball across the infield side-arm or underhand. He won Gold Gloves from 1986 to 1989, and surprised the Jays by hitting .294 over that stretch. The report on Tony was that he would be an A+ fielder, but struggle with the bat. At the 1990 winter meetings, Toronto GM Pat Gillick saw a chance to infuse new talent into his team and jumped at the opportunity to grab Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter
. But the price tag was Fernandez and Fred McGriff
. The trade worked: within two years the Jays were on their way to back-to-back titles. Gillick always regretted dealing Tony, and he got his man back in 1993, which allowed Fernandez to earn a ring. He batted .325 in the postseason in his return to Canada, and later played in the World Series as a member of the 1997 Indians, batting .471 in the Fall Classic.