Carlos Correa and the 10 Most Shocking No. 1 Picks in MLB Draft History
The Houston Astros weren't supposed to take Carlos Correa with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player draft. They were supposed to take Mark Appel or Byron Buxton. The experts said so.
But no. The Astros defied the experts and selected Correa anyway. It was shocking enough to make the Twitterverse cry out a collective "WOW!"
That's the beauty of the MLB draft. The No. 1 pick is never a surprise in the NFL draft, and it's rarely a surprise in the NBA draft. Both those drafts may indeed be flashier and more watchable, but they're not nearly as unpredictable as the MLB draft.
The Correa pick isn't the only pick that tells the story. There have been numerous shocking No. 1 picks throughout the history of the MLB draft.
Here's a look back at 10 that come immediately to mind.
Note: Baseball-Reference.com has a list of all the No. 1 picks in MLB draft history.
10. David Clyde, 1973
David Clyde wasn't an obscure prospect when the Texas Rangers selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1973 MLB draft. On the contrary, it was widely agreed that he was an excellent young pitcher well worth drafting at No. 1.
What was shocking was how the team approached its selection of Clyde.
The story, as told by The New York Times, goes that the Rangers chose Clyde with certain plans in mind. Team owner Bob Short was looking for a way to boost lagging attendance, and he figured that showcasing Clyde, a local kid, in the majors right away was a good way to do it.
So upon joining the Rangers, Clyde went straight from starting in high school to starting in the major leagues. He made his major-league debut just three weeks after his final high school start.
Clyde pitched well initially, but his career never amounted to anything. He was out of the majors by the time he was 24 years old, and he ultimately retired with a career record of 18-33.
After Clyde was chosen No. 1 in the 1973 draft, the Milwaukee Brewers used the No. 3 pick on Robin Yount and the San Diego Padres used the No. 4 pick on Dave Winfield. Those two guys went on to have pretty good careers.
9. Danny Goodwin, 1971 and 1975
Danny Goodwin is (I think) the only real oddity on this list. He didn't make the cut because he was overdrafted, nor did he make the cut because he was a signability pick gone wrong.
He's on this list because he's the only player in history to be drafted No. 1 overall twice.
Goodwin was originally drafted No. 1 overall by the Chicago White Sox in the 1971 draft out of Peoria Central High School in Illinois, but he chose to go to Southern University and A&M College instead.
Goodwin surfaced again in 1975, and it just so happened there was a team very much in need of his services picking No. 1.
Goodwin was a power-hitting catcher with an impressive left-handed swing, and the California Angels desperately needed one of those, according to The Hardball Times. They drafted Goodwin because of his talent, but they also drafted him to fill a need—something that's a rarity nowadays.
Unfortunately, Goodwin never panned out. He played seven big-league seasons with three different clubs, hitting just .236 in the process.
It's a good bet that never again will anybody be picked twice at No. 1 in the MLB draft.
8. Matt Anderson, 1997
When Matt Anderson was being scouted before the 1997 MLB draft, nobody ever said there was a problem with his stuff. He could throw 100 miles per hour consistently, and he was clocked higher than that in some places.
However, it was obvious that Anderson was going to be a relief pitcher in the majors. There's no actual rule against it, but relief pitchers simply shouldn't go No. 1 overall in the MLB draft.
The Detroit Tigers decided to draft Anderson anyway. I think David Schoenfield of ESPN.com said it best when he wrote that it was a "perplexing decision."
It looked at first like the Tigers had something in Anderson. He appeared in 42 games in 1998, posting a 3.27 ERA and striking out 44 hitters in 44 innings. A few years later, in 2001, he saved a career-best 22 games.
Sadly, Anderson tore a muscle in his armpit in 2002, and he was never able to regain his velocity. Sports Illustrated notes that Anderson may or may not have hurt himself in an octopus-throwing contest.
He last appeared in the majors in 2005 with the Colorado Rockies.
After the Tigers took Anderson No. 1 in 1997, a few guys named J.D. Drew, Troy Glaus, Vernon Wells and Jayson Werth came off the board.
7. Bryan Bullington, 2002
In 2002, right-handed hurler Bryan Bullington went 11-3 with a 2.86 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 104 innings at Ball State. Those 139 strikeouts set a new college record for a single season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were clearly impressed, as they chose to make Bullington the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 MLB draft.
Baseball-Reference.com now uses Bullington as an example for the term "signability pick." The Pirates picked him not because he was the most talented player on the board, but because they felt they could sign him for a relatively small amount of money.
Unfortunately for them, the 2002 draft class has proven to be one of the best in recent memory. Among the players who were selected after Bullington are stars like B.J. Upton, Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, Jeff Francoeur and Matt Cain.
Bullington only made six appearances for the Pirates, and he didn't earn his first major-league win until 2010 with the Kansas City Royals. He now plays in Japan.
6. Carlos Correa, 2012
The day before the 2012 MLB draft was set to kick off, ESPN's Jim Bowden reported via Twitter that the Houston Astros were going to take Stanford right-hander Mark Appel with the No. 1 overall pick.
That report came as no real surprise, as various industry experts had already predicted that Appel would be the man for the Astros on draft day. If not him, it would certainly be Byron Buxton.
The real surprise came when the Astros actually announced their pick: Carlos Correa, a 17-year-old shortstop from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.
Even Correa was surprised.
"I was very surprised," Correa said, via the Los Angeles Times. "I was like, 'Is it a dream or is it true?'"
Correa has been compared to Alex Rodriguez. If he lives up to that billing, the Astros will have made a very smart pick.
We'll know in about 10 years.
5. Steve Chilcott, 1966
Steve Chilcott definitely had the tools to be a high draft pick in the 1966 MLB draft. He had a solid frame for a catcher, his bat was powerful and he had a gun for an arm.
But the New York Mets had a tough choice to make. They could either take Chilcott, a high-schooler, No. 1 overall, or they could take an Arizona State slugger by the name of Reggie Jackson.
The Mets chose Chilcott. Per an old Sports Illustrated article from Jon Heyman (who is now with CBSSports.com), the Mets spurned Jackson because of "character issues."
Well, okay. That makes sense.
...They probably should have double-checked the talent, though.
Jackson ended up being taken second overall by the Kansas City A's. He, of course, went on to make 14 All-Star appearances, hit 563 home runs and win four World Series championships.
Chilcott never made it to the majors.
4. Matt Bush, 2004
With no obvious choice on the board, the San Diego Padres decided to make a surprising yet convenient choice by taking Matt Bush with the No. 1 overall pick. He appealed to them because he was a good fielding shortstop with great tools, and because he was a local kid who could be easily signed.
According to the Associated Press, the Padres chose Bush over their other top choices: Stephen Drew, Jered Weaver and Jeff Niemann.
Bush never got on track as a hitter in the minors, and the Padres ultimately chose to convert him into a pitcher. He was eventually released and signed with the Tampa Bay Rays. He has yet to make a major-league appearance.
And he likely never will. Bush's career has been plagued by off-field problems, and he was arrested for DUI and fleeing the scene of an accident earlier this year. He collided with a motorcycle, and a witness said he drove over the driver's head.
With the No. 2 overall pick, the Detroit Tigers chose Justin Verlander. Also chosen in the first round of the 2004 draft were Homer Bailey, Neil Walker, Billy Butler, Phil Hughes, Gio Gonzalez and Huston Street.
3. Chipper Jones, 1990
The Atlanta Braves had the No. 1 overall pick that year, and the legend goes (see CBSSports.com) that they very much wanted Van Poppel. Unfortunately, they were informed he wouldn't sign with them.
The Braves could have risked drafting Van Poppel, but instead they chose to surprise people by making a safer pick in drafting Chipper Jones, a skinny high school shortstop out of Jacksonville.
Over two decades later, Jones is still playing and already has a ticket to Cooperstown pretty well in hand. In 19 seasons, he has a .304 career batting average and 459 home runs. He won a World Series ring in 1995, an MVP award in 1999 and a batting title in 2008.
Van Poppel, on the other hand, went 40-52 in 11 seasons with six different clubs. He retired after the 2004 season.
Well played, Braves.
2. Phil Nevin, 1992
Ahead of the 1992 MLB draft, Houston Astros scout Hal Newhouser really, really, really wanted the club to draft a young high school shortstop named Derek Jeter.
Instead, the Astros decided to draft Phil Nevin, a power-hitting third baseman from Cal State Fullerton, with the No. 1 overall pick.
According to "The Futurists" blog on MLBlogs.com, Newhouser was so upset with the pick that he quit the Astros organization and retired from baseball altogether.
Part of the reason the Astros passed on Jeter was because of money, as they believed he was going to command a $1 million signing bonus. They ended up giving Nevin a mere $700,000 bonus when he signed.
Nevin went on to have a decent career, hitting 208 home runs in 12 seasons with seven different teams. His best season came in 2001, when he hit 41 home runs and made the All-Star team as a member of the San Diego Padres. He managed to stick around until 2006.
Jeter ended up going sixth overall to the New York Yankees. You know the rest.
1. Joe Mauer, 2001
The Minnesota Twins had the first pick in 2001, and they could very well have chosen Prior in hopes that he would be an ace for many years to come. Alas, they just didn't know if they could afford him, and there were rumblings that Prior didn't want to play for them.
So the Twins decided to pass on perhaps the greatest college pitcher ever to take Joe Mauer, a sweet-swinging high school catcher. Because Mauer was a local kid to boot, he was going to be much easier to sign than Prior.
It wasn't just Prior the Twins passed up to take Mauer. They also passed up Mark Teixeira. Both of them ended up going in the top five, with Prior going second overall to the Chicago Cubs and Teixeira going fifth overall to the Texas Rangers.
Prior managed to squeeze in one great year in 2003 before his career was derailed by injuries. Teixeira is still going, but he's not the player he once was.
Neither is Mauer, but he still has a .322 lifetime batting average, three batting titles, three Gold Gloves, four All-Star appearances and an MVP under his belt. It's safe to say the Twins made a good pick.
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