Wow, I had no idea Jose Rijo was 16 when he began his professional career. Utter madness. He actually pitched pretty well as a 16-year old in the GCL in 1981, going 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA. Not stellar, but he was basically a kid. He really hit his stride as an 18-year old, going 18-7 with a 1.88 ERA across A and AA. I guess with how the Yankees were doing in the early 80s I’m not surprised he got the call in 1984, though he didn’t exactly set the world on fire, settling for an 80 ERA+. I guess he was seen as the Yankees’ answer to Doc Gooden that year? Either way, we know which one had the greater skills, though Rijo was a pretty good pitcher. As a matter of fact, I have to admit he was one of my favorite pitchers of the early 90s.
Unfortunately, he ruined that reputation with the Esmailyn Gonzalez scandal and the skimming scandal. From Wikipedia:
Rijo used to work as a special assistant to general manager Jim Bowden of the Washington Nationals baseball team. Starting in February 2009, he took a leave of absence from his position after it was discovered that one of Rijo’s scouting finds, Dominican shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez was actually named Carlos David Alvarez Lugo and was four years older than the Nationals believed when they signed him. On February 25, Rijo was dismissed from the Nationals’ organization and his Dominican baseball academy closed down.
As for the card itself, what can you say? 1984 Topps is not one of my favorite designs, but I do like the picture. And man does Rijo look young and thin!