They said DJ LeMahieu was too tall.
He was a shortstop at Birmingham Brother Rice and at LSU, but in the pros? No way he could play up the middle, scouts said.
LeMahieu, 6-feet-4, plays second base for the Colorado Rockies. On Tuesday, he was awarded a National League Gold Glove for defense.
“I worked really hard to prove people wrong,” he said. “And so now, to win the Gold Glove, it’s pretty cool to prove those kinds of people wrong.”
LeMahieu, 26, is a Bloomfield Hills native. He was an All-America at Brother Rice and a two-time Gatorade Michigan player of the year before passing on the pros — the Tigers drafted him in the 41st round in 2007 — to play for LSU.
He was drafted in the second round by the Cubs in 2009, traded to the Rockies in 2011 and just completed his first full season at second base in 2014.
“I just got a lot of opportunity this year,” he said. “(Rockies manager) Walt (Weiss) kept rolling me out there. I had a couple bad stretches offensively, and he just trusted me and put me in there every day, and I was really thankful to get that consistency.”
LeMahieu hit .267 with five home runs, 42 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. He made six errors in 676 chances.
The Gold Glove was a surprise, he said, going up against four-time winner Brandon Phillips of the Reds and six-time All-Star Chase Utley of the Phillies.
“The other two guys are pretty dang good players,” he said.
But neither stands above him physically, or defensively, anymore.
“I like to think of it as an advantage,” LeMahieu said of his height. “I think my length can help me get to a few balls other people can’t.”
And it might have helped him win a Gold Glove.
■ Free agents: Utilityman Don Kelly and right-handed reliever Evan Reed declined outright assignments to Triple-A Toledo and have become free agents, according to the International League transactions.
Contact Anthony Fenech: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech.