Dubuque: Byron McLaughlin avoids the tag

From Patrick Dubuque at The Hardball Times on June 22, 2016:

Right now there are half a dozen Byron McLaughlin autographs on eBay, none of which look alike. The completed sales tell a story. A couple are glossy photos, a couple baseball cards, and a couple just yellowed index cards. One is subtitled “#27,” another “#30,” the reality of an athlete on the edge of the roster. Sometimes the signature is looping, other times harsh and angular, signed at different times in different moods. One, on his tri-paneled rookie card, covers his entire face. They all share one thing in common: each sells for at least a hundred dollars. There aren’t many Byron McLaughlin autographs out there, and there won’t be any more soon.

McLaughlin’s story starts out reasonably common. Undrafted out of high school, he forsook both higher education and the draft, signing with the Expos as a position player and playing a mere seven games before getting cut. The Orioles tried converting him to pitcher, but after a single season of ugly middle relief they, too, gave up on him. He spent a year in independent ball before the vacuum of expansion drew him back and transformed his life. The Seattle Mariners had plenty of chances to take, so they signed him and loaned him to Nuevo Laredo in the Mexican league for little cost and no risk. It paid off. When the Mexican season ended in September, McLaughlin found himself in the major leagues, only 21 years old.

Most 21-year-olds make the majors because they’re elite prospects; McLaughlin was a live arm on an expansion team. He spent the next couple of years just good enough to stick around at the major league level, shuffling between the rotation and the bullpen, putting up an ERA in the low fours, riding the shuttle back and forth to Triple-A.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/byron-mclaughlin-avoids-the-tag/

Originally published: June 22, 2016. Last Updated: June 22, 2016.