Albert Pujols and the Best MLB Stars Who Went to Junior College

Sean EdwardsContributor IIOctober 6, 2011

Albert Pujols and the Best MLB Stars Who Went to Junior College

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    When people hear "junior college," what do they think? 

    Bad student? 

    Athlete not good enough for a university? 

    Terrible work ethic? 

    Not only are these assumptions false, they couldn't be further from the truth.  Yes, some athletes who attend junior colleges do fall under those classifications, but for others playing baseball at a junior college can be the first (and best) step toward greatness. 

    Maybe the kid didn't have great grades in high school and didn't get accepted into his university of choice.  Or maybe that particular kid needed a few years to develop his body and or skills. 

    Instead of riding the bench at a university, some athletes would like to attend a juco and spend those first few years getting much-needed experience for the future. 

    For whatever reason an athlete chooses to play ball at a junior college, attending that junior college may be the best choice he ever made.  

    Here are my top 10 prime examples of stars who began their career by playing junior college ball.  

10) Bryce Harper: College of Southern Nevada

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    I realize Harper is not in the Majors yet, but am including Bryce mainly because of the hype that surrounds him. 

    Selected No. 1 overall in the 2010 MLB Draft, he is one of the highest-regarded prospects in recent memory.  

    All this after dropping out of high school and playing against talent in the "no slouch" Scenic West Athletic Conference wood-bat league.  

9) Jorge Posada: Calhoun Community College

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    Although Posada had a tough 2011, he has won five Silver Slugger Award and been voted to five All-Star teams.  The five World Series rings are pretty nice, too.  

    Not bad for a catcher who attended a small junior college in Decatur, Alabama.  

8) Heath Bell: Santiago Canyon College

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    Bell is regarded as one of the best closers in Major League Baseball today.  Although you wouldn't be able to tell if you saw him on the street.  

    I especially loved the divot he left on the infield grass during this year's All-Star Game, while attempting his trademark slide.   

7) Mike Piazza: Miami Dade College

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    Piazza is more famously known for being drafted by the Dodgers in the 62nd of the 1988 MLB draft.  But he too played junior college ball.  

    If only he would have thrown the handle back at Clemens.  

6) Roy Oswalt: Holmes Community College

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    Most recently, Oswalt has been part of the stellar rotation in Philadelphia, but in his early years he played for the Bulldogs of Holmes Community College.  

    He was signed out of Holmes by the Houston Astros for $500,000—not bad for a juco kid.

5) Curt Schilling: Yavapai College

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    Besides the infamous bloody sock, which many people think was blown way out of proportion, Schilling had a stellar MLB career after pitching in Northern Arizona for the RoughRiders of Yavapai College.

4) Andy Pettitte: San Jacinto College

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    San Jacinto has produced many stellar baseball players including Pettitte, who has five World Series rings and one ALCS MVP selection to his name.

3) Kirby Puckett: Triton College

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    Puckett didn't receive any scholarships to play college baseball, so he instead decided to attend Triton College. 

    You can still find his name plastered all over the juco world series leader boards.  

2) Albert Pujols: Maple Woods Community College

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    Not very many scouts were interested in Pujols coming out of high school.

    That was unfortunate for many teams, as he wasn't drafted until the 13th round of the 1999 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.

1) Jackie Robinson: Pasadena Junior College

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    Not only did Robinson shatter records at the junior college level, he went on to shatter them at the NCAA Division One level as well.  

    His Major League debut on April 15, 1947, will never be forgotten.