Part of the thrill of the Yankees' most recent dynasty was in watching homegrown talent reach stardom, having advanced through the farm system to the game's grandest stage. Fans adored what came to be known as the "Core Four," the members of which were all eventually enshrined in Monument Park.
Though the Bombers' reputation for spending big on free agents is well-deserved, their pipeline has ferried many notable names from the MLB Draft to the Majors, including several who have enjoyed illustrious careers in pinstripes. Here are the Yankees' six best homegrown picks (note that this covers MLB Draft selections, not players signed as international free agents):
1) Derek Jeter (1992, first round) -- 71.3 bWAR
Five years after Jeter walked off a winner in his final Yankee Stadium at-bat, concluding a storybook run representing the franchise for which he cheered as a boy, "The Captain" claimed his well-deserved place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020. Jeter received the highest vote percentage (99.75%) credited to a position player, one vote shy of matching longtime teammate Mariano Rivera's feat of unanimous selection.
The nation's sixth overall pick in 1992, Jeter emerged from Kalamazoo Central (Mich.) High School to win five World Series championships, seven American League pennants, 14 All-Star selections and five Gold Glove Awards. Collecting 3,465 regular-season hits (sixth all-time), Jeter slashed .310/.377/.440 while tallying 544 doubles, 260 homers, 1,923 runs, 1,311 RBIs and 358 steals in the regular season. He also played the equivalent of another full year in the postseason, earning his "Mr. November" moniker in 2001.
In addition to his highlight-reel moments -- his leadoff homer in Game 4 of the 2000 World Series, the '01 flip play against the Athletics, a bloody '04 dive into the seats against the Red Sox, a homer for his 3,000th hit in '11 --- Jeter was the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner, and both the All-Star Game MVP and the World Series MVP in 2000.
2) Andy Pettitte (1990, 22nd round) -- 51.3 bWAR with Yankees
Plucked from Deer Park (Texas) High School, Pettitte is the only pitcher drafted by the Yankees to win 200 Major League games. He reached the Majors in 1995 and excelled over two stints with the club, interrupted only by a three-year detour to pitch closer to his Houston-area home. A reliable and consistent performer, Pettitte is the Yanks' franchise leader in strikeouts (2,020) and is tied with Hall of Famer Whitey Ford for the most starts (438).
A three-time All-Star, Pettitte pitched to a 219-127 record with a 3.94 ERA (115 ERA+) in 447 games (438 starts) with the Yankees. He owns the Major League record for postseason wins with 19, all but one with New York. The MVP of the 2001 AL Championship Series, Pettitte started and won all three series-clinching contests in the '09 postseason, including Game 6 of the World Series.
3) Ron Guidry (1971, 3rd round) -- 47.8 bWAR
Known as "Gator" and "Louisiana Lightning," Guidry landed with the Yankees from the University of Louisiana. A four-time All-Star and a three-time 20-game winner, Guidry's 1978 season was one of the most electric in Major League history. That year, Guidry went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA (208 ERA+), earning unanimous selection as the AL's Cy Young Award winner and helping the Yankees overcome a 14 1/2-game deficit in the AL East.
Guidry spent his entire career with New York from 1975-88, going 170-91 with a 3.29 ERA (119 ERA+) in 368 games (323 starts). He was 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 10 career postseason starts, including three World Series victories. A five-time Gold Glover, Guidry served as a co-captain from 1985 through his retirement, and his uniform No. 49 was retired in 2003.
4) Thurman Munson (1968, 1st round) -- 46.0 bWAR
The undisputed leader and most respected man on teams that won three consecutive AL pennants from 1976-78 and two World Series championships, Munson was selected fourth overall in '68 from Kent State University in Ohio. A tremendous defensive catcher, Munson won three straight Gold Glove Awards (1973-75) and the AL MVP Award in '76, when he compiled a .302/.337/.432 slash line with 17 homers and 105 RBIs.
The 1970 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner, Munson was named the Yankees' captain in '76. From '75-77, Munson drove in more than 100 runs and batted better than .300 each year. He was a seven-time AL All-Star and the only catcher in postseason history to hit at least .300 with 20 or more RBIs and 20 or more defensive caught stealings. There is no more tragic date in franchise history than Aug. 2, 1979, when Munson perished in a plane crash at age 32.
5) Jorge Posada (1990, 24th round) and Don Mattingly ('79, 19th round)
Two great Yankees collide in a final spot that is too close to call. Posada (42.7) has a slight bWAR edge over Mattingly (42.4), but both spent their entire careers in pinstripes and created indelible memories for generations of fans.
One of the best-hitting catchers of his era, the switch-hitting Posada was drafted as an infielder from Calhoun Community College in Decatur, Ala., moving behind the plate as a pro. Debuting in 1995, Posada batted .273 with 379 doubles, 275 homers, 1,065 RBIs, a .374 on-base percentage and an .848 OPS in 1,829 games. An owner of five World Series rings, Posada was a five-time All-Star and a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He's one of seven catchers all-time to have at least 11 seasons of 17 or more homers.
Respected for his talent, professionalism and humility, Mattingly came to the Yankees from Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville, Ind., and became the premier first baseman of the mid-1980s. Mattingly appeared to be on a track toward the Hall of Fame before back issues sapped his power at age 29. Nevertheless, "Donnie Baseball" remained the most beloved Yankees of his era, tallying nine Gold Glove Awards in his 14 years. Mattingly collected 2,153 career hits, 442 doubles and 1,099 RBIs, second only to Lou Gehrig among Bombers first basemen.
Outfielder Brett Gardner (2005, third round, 43.0 bWAR), outfielder Aaron Judge ('13, first round, 20.2 bWAR), right-hander David Robertson ('06, 17th round, 12.9 bWAR), right-hander Dellin Betances ('06, eighth round, 11.5 bWAR), right-hander Stan Bahnsen (1965, fourth round, 11.5 bWAR), right-hander Doc Medich ('70, 30th round, 11.2 bWAR).