From Ian Begley:
According to ex-Yankee scout and current Brewers executive Dick Groch, the Yankees were this close to landing Votto in the 2002 amateur draft.Well that's disappointing. Nothing against Mark Teixeira, but it would have been great to be able to draft a guy like Votto and have him come up through the system.
"If Cincinnati had not taken him, we would have taken him with our first pick," Groch, who also scouted Derek Jeter for the Yanks in the early 1990s, said earlier this month.
Between Groch and his assistant scout, the Yankees saw "every inning of every game" Votto played in high school in Etobicoke, Ontario.
Groch knew quickly that Votto was a prospect. After a while, either he or his assistant were just showing up to games to see if other teams were interested in Votto.
According to Groch, the Yanks and the Reds -- who found out about Votto after he played in a showcase tournament in Florida -- were the only teams high on Votto heading into the draft.
Groch was so high on Votto that he was in his living room on June 4, 2002 -- the first day of the draft – sitting with Joey and waiting for the Yankees to select him.
Problem was, the Yanks had lost their first-round pick after signing free agent Jason Giambi in the 2001 off-season.
That allowed Cincinnati to swoop in and select Votto with the 44th pick. The Yanks were stuck with pitcher Brandon Weeden with the 71st pick.
“(Votto) was right at the top of our board at the time. In fact, we would have taken him had the Reds not taken him,” said Mark Newman, senior vice president of operations.