Player: Rich Delucia
Set: 1991 Donruss Series 2 #426
One of the key problems that I'm running into with this series is the idea behind the "Rated Rookie" moniker. I tend to believe it is given to a person who has the potential to be a great player. Also, the way I see it, it is a honor that is different than the Topps All-Star Rookie award. To me a Rated Rookie means more...it is about a players potential rather than having success right away. I might be in the minority here but to me there is no greater honor bestowed upon a new player by a baseball card than being called a Rated Rookie.
Rich was a Mariners 6th round pick in the 1986 draft [that draft year included players like Greg Swindell, Gary Sheffield, Matt Williams, and the #1 overall pick Jeff King]. Interestingly, he was picked 16 places ahead of a Rated Rookie that has shown to be very deserving of the honor, Tom "Flash" Gordon.
Rich career got started quickly...he pitched 32 games in his first full season but as with any mid-to-late 80's Mariners team even pitchers with good stuff end up with a record of 12-13. Even so, Rich did finish 5th in the Rookie of the Year voting. After that season, he moved increasingly into the middle reliever role, at times average nearly 60 games pitched a year. In the end, Delucia retired after nine years in the major with a 38-51 record and an ERA of 4.62.