As of this writing, Alex Rodriguez, or "A-Rod," is in his 18th season as a major leaguer and has been a key part of the New York Yankees' success since he was traded to the team in 2004. He's the youngest player in history to have 500 career home runs and is also the only player to have 14 100-RBI seasons. He was offered a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Miami but turned it down after being drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1994, at age 17.
Rodriguez began in the Mariners' AAA affiliate, the Calgary Cannons. He put together some impressive numbers, quickly moving up to the Mariners in July 1994 at age 18. He did well in the big leagues and might have stayed permanently if not for the strike. In August, all major league baseball players walked off the job due to contract disputes between the team owners and the players' union. The strike lasted into April 1995 and cut short what was looking like another pennant for the Yankees -- the team was leading its division by 6.5 games and had the best record in the American League. It also cut short Rodriguez's first stint in the majors.
When the strike ended in spring 1995, he found himself with AAA team the Tacoma Rainiers. By June, he was back in the majors to replace an infielder who was injured. An article quotes then manager Lou Pinella as saying, "Rodriguez is doing a nice job [...] we may just leave him and let him play" [source: The Seattle Times]. They left him, all right. The next year was his breakout year, and Rodriguez came very close to becoming the youngest Most Valuable Player in baseball history.