Expos GM who drafted Tom Brady says he ‘could have been one of the greatest catchers ever’

June 02, 2017 - 12:04 pm
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Before he was a five-time Super Bowl-winner, three-time Super Bowl MVP, two-time regular-season MVP, and selected to 12 Pro Bowls, Tom Brady was simply a high school baseball catcher.

Now one of the most decorated football players of all-time, Brady had a tough decision to make out of Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California.

The Expos selected Brady in the 18th round of the 1995 MLB draft, and former Expos general manager Kevin Malone doesn't regret the decision.

"I think he could have been one of the greatest catchers ever," Malone told Bleacher Report. "I know that's quite a statement, but the projections were based on the fact we had a left-hand-hitting catcher, with arm strength and who was athletic. … But his first love was football."

Brady's negative NFL scouting report is well-documented, but his baseball scouting report was more glowing. When Brady entered Junipero Serra, which has graduated a number of professional athletes – chief among them Barry Bonds, friends say that he was "more geared toward baseball" at that time.

In two seasons on the varsity team, Brady hit .311 with eight home runs and 44 RBI in 61 games. He gravitated toward football early in his high school career, though, which lowered his MLB draft stock. By senior year, Brady and his family were fairly confident that he would head to Michigan to play quarterback, but that doesn't mean the Expos didn't try to sign him.

Malone and Expos brass lobbied hard for Brady's talents and were prepared to offer him a signing bonus similar to what a third-round pick would garner.

Why were the Expos so impressed by the lanky, left-handed-hitting backstop? His workout at Candlestick Park in 1995 was a major factor.

"It was an impressive workout for the young man," Malone said. "He had a pretty good swing, and he had power. He was not overwhelmed by the stadium or by hanging around major league players. He had poise. You wouldn’t know—except for looking at his young face—that this guy was not part of our major league Montreal Expos team. He carried himself like a professional. He had that 'it' factor."

Ask Bill Belichick, who drafted the kid five years later, and it's likely he concurs with Malone's "it" factor evaluation. While the sporting world will never know whether Brady could have thrived in the MLB, Mets minor-leaguer Tim Tebow has proven that it's never too late to make a career change.

Patriots fans are probably happy he chose football, though.