MLB Draft 2012: Ranking 25 Worst Draft Busts in Philadelphia Phillies History
Major League Baseball's amateur draft can be like one giant crap shoot.
Sure, the draft has come a long way since its inception and nowadays, it's more like a science than an art. But it's not a perfect science. When it comes time to make a choice on draft day, teams have to man up and take a gamble.
No draft pick is guaranteed success.
That's what makes this event both a blessing and a curse. Teams can find themselves banking their future on a "can't miss" prospect that eventually misses. Then what do you do? On the converse, teams can build their future with the call of a single name.
The possibilities are endless. Teams can grow sour with their draft picks, believe they're a bust and do away with them. Josh Hamilton says hello.
But for the Philadelphia Phillies, it has been a murky situation. This is an organization that hasn't always put the effort into building a winner, so if you're looking for anything with numbers in this franchise, check out the "draft busts" category.
For a long time, the Phillies weren't on Lady Luck's good side. Even when they tried to make a good pick, they failed. It created a long history of huge busts for the organization, and with draft day right around the corner again this year, now seems like as good a time as ever to see where the Phillies of the past went wrong.
Here are the Phillies' 25 biggest draft busts.
Dishonorable Mention: JD Drew
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J.D. Drew certainly wasn't a real draft "bust" by any stretch of the imagination.
Though you can make the argument that he never lived up to the hype, he would go on to have a solid career as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox.
The problem is that none of those four teams are the Phillies.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: When you own the second overall pick in a draft, as the Phillies did in 1997, you have to select an impact player and get him signed.
The Phillies failed to do that.
Then they failed to draft an impact player with the compensation pick they received for failing to sign Drew, but we'll get to that later.
As far as the Phillies are concerned, Drew was a major draft bust.
25. Scott Munninghoff
By the time the June amateur draft rolled around in 1977, the Phillies could count their successful draft picks on one hand, and that's certainly not a good thing.
There was some hope that their fortunes would be reversed with the selection of right-handed pitcher Scott Munninghoff, but it wasn't meant to be.
Munninghoff got his cup of coffee in 1980, pitching four games in relief for the Phillies for a total of six innings. He'd surrender three earned runs over that stretch and never made it back to the big leagues.
24. Dave Coggin
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When Danny Jackson signed with the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the 1996 season, the Phillies were awarded a supplemental draft pick—the 30th overall selection, or last in the first round.
With that pick, the Phillies selected right-handed high school pitcher Dave Coggin.
Coggin floundered around as a starting pitcher for his first couple of minor league seasons, but the talent-starved Phillies called him to the big club in 2000, regardless.
He pitched sparingly for the Phillies over parts of three seasons, with his longest stint coming in the form of 17 starts in 2001. He moved to the bullpen the next season and the year after was out of the majors.
23. Eric Valent
Letting J.D. Drew walk was a catastrophic failure for the Phillies as an organization, but there was a silver lining. They received a supplemental pick the following year, 1998, for failing to sign their top choice the year prior.
After selecting Pat Burrell with the first overall pick, the Phillies would choose Eric Valent 42nd overall, after Mark Mulder, Drew, Carlos Pena, CC Sabathia, Brad Lidge and Aaron Rowand went off the board.
22. Adrian Cardenas
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It may be a bit premature to label Adrian Cardenas a bust at age 24, but it certainly doesn't look as though he's going to live up to his potential.
The Phillies drafted him with the 37th overall pick in 2006 as compensation for losing closer Billy Wagner to the New York Mets. They thought they had a top prospect on their hands, but Cardenas never really put it all together.
Looking for starting pitching in 2008, the Phillies sent him to the Oakland Athletics in 2008 in the deal that brought Joe Blanton to town.
Cardenas made his MLB debut with the Chicago Cubs this season, but has struggled against big league pitching, as was anticipated.
21. Brad Brink
For a number of off-the-field reasons, the Phillies weren't always necessarily targeting top talent in the draft for a long time, but looking over their draft history, it has to be nearly impossible to receive as little big league talent as the Phillies did.
From 1985 to 1997, the Phillies would draft one player—Mike Lieberthal—who had a significant impact on the MLB club.
One prospect drafted during that dry spell was right-handed pitcher Brad Brink.
He pitched in 10 games for the Phillies (seven starts) over parts of two seasons and surrendered 21 earned runs. Brink would be claimed off of waivers by the San Francisco Giants a year later and was out of the majors shortly thereafter.
20. Wayne Gomes
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The 1993 draft was interesting.
From a talent perspective, there was the consensus top draft choice—Alex Rodriguez—and then there was everyone else.
The Phillies owned their fourth pick and drafted a guy who everyone knew was heading to the bullpen: Wayne Gomes.
The Phillies would toy with Gomes as a starting pitcher, but by 1996, he had made the conversion to full-time reliever and became a bust before he made his MLB debut in 1997.
Gomes would pitch out of the bullpen over parts of five seasons for the Phillies and post an ERA of 4.42. He'd also pitch for the San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox.
If you're going to pick a reliever with the fourth overall pick, he better have historic potential. Gomes never came close.
19. Greg Golson
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By 2004, the Phillies were making legitimate first-round selections. They just swung and missed when they drafted Greg Golson with the 21st overall pick.
Under Ed Wade's guidance, the Phillies had developed a strong core of prospects and were looking to add to it by drafting the talented outfielder. Golson had plus speed but questionable bat skills, and he just never put it together professionally.
He'd make just six plate appearances for the Phillies in 2008 before they swapped him with Texas Rangers prospect John Mayberry Jr.
Golson would make one plate appearance for Texas before joining the New York Yankees as a bench player, albeit briefly.
18. Johnny Abrego
The 1981 season was shortened by a labor strike, and that must have had some kind of effect on the Phillies' front office come June, because they really screwed up with this pick.
Fresh off of a World Series title the year before, the Phillies were looking to add to an aging core when they selected right-handed pitcher Johnny Abrego.
His minor league career got off to a dreadful start and never really improved.
The Chicago Cubs would later select him in the Rule 5 draft and Abrego would make six appearances (five starts) with the club before he was sent to Triple-A.
Oddly enough, his lone win came against the Phillies. That wasn't enough to keep him around, however. After two poor minor league seasons, the Cubs released him and he retired from baseball.
17. Reggie Taylor
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Reggie Taylor had the makings of a solid prospect when the Phillies selected him with the 14th pick of the 1995 draft.
Like so many other hitters, however, he struggled to adjust to the speed of the game professionally and never put together a solid minor league season.
That didn't stop the talent-starved Phillies from calling him up to the bigs in 2000, however. He'd make 19 plate appearances over parts of two seasons before the Phillies dealt him to the Cincinnati Reds.
16. Mike Adamson
I guess you could say that the Phillies' selection of Mike Adamson in the 1965 draft would set the tone for much of the club's future draft selections.
Of course, the 1965 June amateur draft was the first of its kind, and the Phillies' inaugural selection would come at No. 18.
With that selection, the Phillies selected right-handed pitcher Mike Adamson, but he refused to sign with the club.
A few years later, the Baltimore Orioles picked him first overall, but he never amounted to much with the O's, either.
15. Tyler Green
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By 1991, the Phillies were mired in a long string of terrible first-round selections (sans Mike Lieberthal, of course), and things weren't about to get any better in June of that year.
With the 10th overall pick, the Phillies would select right-handed pitcher Tyler Green.
Green had a relatively solid minor league career before the Phillies called him up to the majors, but it was by no means an indicator of the success, or lack thereof, he would have with the Phillies.
He would make his debut briefly in 1993. He spent the next season in the minors. In 1995, he stuck around longer than his previous stint, but he posted a 5.31 ERA. Green would miss the entire 1996 season with an injury, and after struggling over the next two seasons, was finished in bigs.
Manny Ramirez, Cliff Floyd and Shawn Green were all selected after Green.
14. Carlton Loewer
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The Phillies' surprise run at the World Series during the 1993 season pushed them down the draft board the following year, when they would own the 23rd overall selection.
With that pick, the Phillies would select a talented right-handed pitcher by the name of Carlton Loewer, but like so many before him, he would flop around in the minors before having a brutal MLB "career."
Loewer would make 34 starts (and 41 appearances for the Phillies total) from 1998 to 1999 and post an ERA of 5.68.
The Phillies would subsequently try and recoup any value he had left by dealing him to the San Diego Padres, alongside one Adam Eaton, in exchange for Andy Ashby.
13. John Russell
Some would say that John Russell had a relatively good MLB career as a backup catcher, but I think that's being a bit too generous.
The Phillies made Russell the 13th overall selection in 1982, and his minor league career got off to a quick start. He mashed the cover off of the ball in Triple-A in 1984 and earned a trip to the MLB. After getting off to a similarly hot start the next season, Russell found himself on the Phillies' roster.
Russell would develop into a versatile utility player, but you don't have a great career when you really can't hit (.225 career batting average, .653 career OPS) or play defense.
He would go on to have a similarly poor showing in three seasons as the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2008-10.
12. Zach Collier
At just 21 years old, you could certainly make the argument that Zach Collier has time to turn things around, but I just don't see it happening. In my opinion, he doesn't have the ceiling to become anything other than a bust for the Phillies.
The Phillies, who had a very successful draft in 2008, really swung and missed on their first two selections, one of which was collier (34th overall) and the other we will address in just a moment.
A ton of talent was going off the board in the first round and in hindsight, owning two picks in the first round should have been a blessing, but the Phillies drafted two busts.
Collier came off the board before guys like Mike Montgomery, Jordan Lyles, Lance Lynn and Wade Miley.
His minor league career has been terrible, and Collier has never posted an OPS of better than .676 in a full season.
11. Anthony Hewitt
Before the Phillies selected Zach Collier in the first round of the 2008 draft, they would select an even bigger bust, Anthony Hewitt, with the 24th overall pick.
Hewitt gets the same caveat as Collier. Both have a lot of talent, are still young (Hewitt is 23) and have time to turn it around. I just don't see it happening.
Hewitt's best OPS in a single season to this point in his career has been his .687 mark with the Single-A Lakewood BlueClaws last season. Like Collier, he just doesn't have the potential to do much better any longer.
A couple of top prospects would go off the board following the Phillies' selection of Hewitt, including Christian Friedrich, Gerrit Cole (did not sign) Lonnie Chisenhall and Casey Kelly.
10. Rip Rollins
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Some of the players on this list were so monumental of a draft bust that I couldn't even find pictures of them, so instead, I decided to tease you with pictures of what could have been.
One such player was Rip Rollins (no relation to Jimmy Rollins.) The Phillies would spend their 23rd overall selection on him in 1978, and Rollins would pitch in their system for just four seasons before retiring having never posted an ERA of better than 4.27.
More than a full round later, the Baltimore Orioles would select Cal Ripken Jr.
9. Jeff Kraus
Jeff Kraus was another monumental failure for the Phillies.
After making a charge toward the top of the division the previous year, the Phillies owned the 17th overall selection in 1976 and picked lean right-handed pitcher Jeff Kraus.
He'd spend five seasons in the minor leagues before retiring.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected a great catcher in Mike Scioscia a few picks later and the Boston Red Sox would select Bruce Hurst a few picks after that.
8. Trey McCall
Trey McCall's failure has been well documented, and though he would become the first in a long line of first-round failures for the Phillies, I've always gotten the feeling that they really wanted this one.
McCall was a sought-after catcher coming out of high school and some teams feared that he had too strong of a college commitment to sign him away.
The Phillies took a chance by picking him 16th overall.
His inability to adjust to professional pitching was rather surprising. McCall never posted an OPS of better than .707 and was out of baseball by 1989.
Brian McRae, Joe Magrane, Gregg Jefferries and Rafael Palmeiro were all drafted after McCall.
7. Phil Meyer
It doesn't seem like a common occurrence that left-handed pitchers are drafted in the first round of the amateur draft and go on to have zero impact at the big league level, but Phil Meyer fits that bill.
The Phillies drafted him in the first round of the 1967 draft. He sputtered around in the minors before he was out of baseball all together by the end of the 1972 season.
A couple of picks after the Phillies' selected Meyer, the Baltimore Orioles would select pitching great Bobby Grich.
6. Henry Powell
After challenging the Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League pennant in 1979, the Phillies wouldn't pick until the middle of the 1980 draft, and that wasn't a good thing. It wasn't a very deep talent pool, but there was still talent.
You can't walk away with nothing, and yet, that's what the Phillies did.
They would select a high school catcher by the name of Henry Powell with the 13th overall pick. Powell would last just three seasons in the minors before retiring.
The Detroit Tigers would later select Glenn Wilson, who would play for the Phillies later in his career.
5. Chad McConnell
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Chad McConnell wasn't a bad selection by any stretch of the imagination.
The Minnesota Twins had tried to steal him in the 17th round in 1989, but that never happened. McConnell chose to attend college instead, playing in the Olympics during that time.
He became eligible for the draft again in 1992 and was highly sought after. The Phillies selected him with the 13th overall pick.
McConnell was just one of those players that could never put it together professionally. The 1996 season was his third stint with Double-A Reading, and his last professionally.
Shannon Stewart, Rick Helling, Jason Kendall and Johnny Damon were among those selected after McConnell.
4. Sammye Welborn
Sammye Welborn was a tall, slender right-handed pitcher who certainly had a high ceiling and the frame to become a very good pitcher.
If you told the Phillies on draft day that he'd be a career minor league player, they probably would have laughed at you. Then again, you would have laughed last.
Welborn spent nine seasons in the minors before calling it quits in 1983, then a member of the Houston Astros.
If it's any consolation for the Phillies, the 1975 draft housed what is probably the worst first round of all time.
3. Michael Biko
The early years of the June draft were far from the science that it has become today, and if their first two selections were any indication, the Phillies weren't feeling very confident.
After failing to sign Mike Adamson the previous year, the Phillies drafted Michael Biko with the ninth overall pick in 1966.
Biko would spend just two seasons in the Phillies' minor league system and four years in the minor leagues total before calling it quits.
Reggie Jackson was far and away the best player taken in the first round, but after the Phillies selected Biko, a couple of good players, including Richie Hebner (pictured) and Gary Nolan, were selected.
2. Mike Martin
It's not often that a team picks a player in the top five and they fail to appear in the majors. But that was the case for the Phillies and their fifth overall selection, Mike Martin, back in 1970.
Martin would spend just five seasons in the Phillies' system before moving on to greener pastures, though none were as green as the pastures he would never set foot on—the big leagues.
Surprisingly enough, not much talent was taken in the first round of the '70 draft, but the Oakland Athletics did select Dan Ford.
1. Jeff Jackson
Even for an organization like the Phillies, who have had more draft busts than they care to remember, there can only be one bust so colossal that it is embarrassing to talk about, and for the Phillies, that man is Jeff Jackson.
The Phillies owned the fourth overall pick in 1989 and they were a little giddy about it. The first round was going to hold a lot of talent and the Phillies wanted a great player. Great players were certainly available, and the Phillies took one with all of the tools to be successful in Jackson.
He was a five-tool player that roamed the outfield and, at times, made it look easy. After Von Hayes had failed to become the club's next cornerstone, Jackson was touted as the next big thing.
He never was. In fact, it was probably unreasonable to think so.
Jackson became a career minor league player, spending nine seasons, six with the Phillies, in the MiLB.
After the Phillies drafted Jackson, a few recognizable names went off the board, including Frank Thomas, Charles Johnson, Cal Eldred, Mo Vaughn and Chuck Knoblauch, a man once drafted by the Phillies but refused to sign.