Now that I have done a little more than ten of these, I have found that it gets harder and harder to find out information about former KC Royals top picks (even in the social media and internet age). So if anyone reading this has a player they would like me to research or has any inside information on a player I have not yet wrote about, please feel free to share and let me know in the comments section.
Outfielder Michael Tucker was drafted in the first round in 1992 with the tenth overall pick, though he was drafted as a shortstop.
He was the 1992 Division II Player of the Year out of Longwood College and the Baseball America Small College POY. Tucker won the national triple crown: .489 with 22 home runs and 74 RBIs. He was also a finalist for the Golden Spikes and Dick Howser Awards.
Tucker began his Royals career in 1993 with High-A Wilmington in the Blue Rocks inaugural season (.305 in 61 games before a promotion to Double-A). He was the third former Blue Rock to reach the big leagues. Tucker did that on April 26, 1995. He singled in his first Major League at-bat (against Mike Mussina of Baltimore).
Tucker went on to play with six more teams: the Atlanta Braves, the Cincinnati Reds, the Chicago Cubs, the SF Giants, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the NY Mets. Oh and he came back to the Royals via trade and was a member of the last winning team (2003) prior to this past season.
In 2006, he signed in January with the Washington Nationals, only to be let go. Tucker was with Triple-A Norfolk (then a Mets affiliate) and was recalled in August. His last big league game came on October 1, 2006 with the Mets.
In May of 2007, Tucker signed a minor league deal with the Boston Red Sox and played in 72 games with Triple-A Pawtucket (.224) before being released in July.
Tucker resurfaced in 2009 in the independent Atlantic League. He struggled in 12 games with Newark (.231) and contemplated retirement, but signed on with Southern Maryland and re-discovered his stroke (.332 in 57 games and had more walks than strikeouts). However, he did not play another professional game following that season.
His most memorable big league moment came on April 4, 1997, when he hit the first home run at Turner Field in Atlanta. His 1997 season with the Braves was his most productive (.283 with 141 hits and 80 runs scored in 138 games).
Another big moment in Tucker’s career is 1992, when he was a member of the US Olympic team that came in fourth place in Barcelona. He is the first and only Olympic athlete to attend Longwood University (it was College back when he attended).
In 1995, Tucker had his #20 retired and it remains the only baseball jersey to be retired at Longwood. In 2005, he was one of the six inductees into the inaugural Longwood Athletics Hall of Fame. He was the first HOF member from the sport of baseball. He was inducted again in 2011 with his 1991 team.
In 2011, Tucker helped out fellow former big leaguer Julio Zuleta with clinics for aspiring big leaguers in the islands at the inaugural Sanibel-Captiva Baseball Clinic.