Eric Karros — Rookie of the Year, 1992
Eric Karros was a sixth-round pick who's not blessed with great physical tools — speed, arm — but he's a good hitter, he has good power, and he has outstanding makeup. And he's made the most out of what he's got. When he started the season in 1992, he was a third-string first baseman. The first-string guy didn't do well, the second-string guy got hurt, and it wasn't until May that Eric got his foot in the door. Then he knocked it down and he made it happen.
Mike Piazza — Rookie of the Year, 1993
Mike Piazza was our very last pick,, and we only picked him because Tommy Lasorda intervened with the scouting director. Mike came out to Los Angeles for a workout, and started hitting them out of the ball park. That's when we signed him. It took him four years to work his way up in the system. But he had great makeup and great physical tools, mainly hitting ability and power. When you have those combinations, you've got yourself a superstar.
Raul Mondesi — Rookie of the Year, 1994
Raul Mondesi was a player from the Dominican Republic with outstanding physical tools. Ever since he was first signed, the scouts could see the raw physical ability. It just took hours and hours of work to refine those skills. But he's a five-tool player: he can hit, hit with power, run with speed, has a great arm, and great fielding ability.
Hideo Nomo — Rookie of the Year, 1995
This was a case of a Japanese player wanting to play in the United States and having the freedom to do so. He was 26 years old, a proven guy who'd played five years in the Japanese professional league. The gamble was whether he could make the cultural adjustment in language and home life. But our studies indicated that he had great makeup. And he wanted badly to come over here and succeed in the United States. So he made it happen.
Todd Hollandsworth — Rookie of the Year, 1996
Todd Hollandsworth has good tools across the board, but his makeup is outstanding. He was 17 years old when we signed him, but he was already focused on being a big-league ball player. He was the first one at the ball park, the last one home, and his work habits were outstanding. He was determined to make himself into a major-league player.
A version of this article appeared in the April/May 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.