It has been over 10 years since the 2002 MLB draft, and it’s best known for being the beginning of the Moneyball era (Nick Swisher, Jeremy Brown). It was also a draft where two Canadians—Adam Loewen and Jeff Francis—became two of the highest-drafted Canadian-born players ever.
With the 2013 draft on the horizon (June 6-8), I thought I would take a look back at a group of the most historic 41 picks in recent memory.
Ball St. University
Getting selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft turned out to be the highlight of Bryan Bullington’s MLB career. Bullington is one of only two pitchers selected with the first overall pick to win fewer than 15 games in the majors. He finished with a 1-9 career record. He has played for the Hiroshima Carp in the Japan Central League, posting 20 wins over the last two years.
Greenbrier Christian Academy
B.J. Upton is an enigma. He has all the tools but rarely puts the five tools together. Currently eight years into his professional career, Upton was instrumental in building the Rays into the force they are today. Upton averages 20 home runs and 75 RBI a season.
Liberty Union High School
Drafted out of Liberty Union High School, Chris Gruler impressed the baseball world by hitting 96 mph on the radar gun and striking out 135 in 66 innings. After multiple shoulder surgeries, Gruler never advanced past Single-A and appeared in only 27 minor league games. He last played in 2006.
Fraser Valley Christian HS
Adam Loewen is the still the highest Canadian-born player ever drafted. He was taken as a pitcher, but a series of arm injuries derailed his pitching career. Loewen in still trying to stay in the bigs, this time as a hitter. He hit a career-high 17 home runs and batted .306 for the Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate in 2011. Loewen played for the Buffalo Bisons, the New York Mets Triple-A team, in 2012.
Cypress Falls HS
Clint Everts has had a pretty solid minor league career, appearing in over 300 games, but has yet to make a major league appearance. Everts attended Cypress Falls High School where he played with Scott Kazmir.
Zack Greinke is considered one of the crown jewels of the baseball world at this moment. In the 2012 offseason, Greinke signed the richest contract for any right-handed pitcher in the history of the game: six years, $147 million. He is a former Cy Young winner (2009).
Eau Gallie High School
Prince Fielder has lived up to every expectation a first-round pick should. He is one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball and is a lock for 30 home runs and 100 RBI every single season. In 2012, he signed a nine-year, $220 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. Fielder has been in the top 10 of MVP voting four times in his eight seasons.
Scott Moore has played in parts of five years at the big league level, seeing the majority of his success in 2012 with the Houston Astros, where he hit nine home runs and drove in 26 in 72 games.
University of British Columbia
Jeff Francis, one of the highest Canadian players ever drafted, and has put together a respectable eight-year career with 67 wins in over 200 starts. Francis has battled some shoulder injuries and recently re-signed with the Colorado Rockies.
University of South Carolina
A first-round pick who played five games at the major league level, Drew Meyer batted .266 and stole 92 bases in over 800 minor league games.
Jeremy Hermida had success early in his career, belting a career-high 18 home runs and driving in 63 while batting .296 in 2007. Hermida has split time between Triple-A and the big leagues since 2010. He has played for five big league teams and was signed as a free agent by the Cleveland Indians in February of 2013.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Joe Saunders has been very reliable over his eight years. He has a career winning percentage of .545 and was an All-Star for the Angels in 2008 while leading the starting rotation in wins (17) and ERA (3.41). Saunders was picked up down the stretch by the resurgent Baltimore Orioles in 2012, and he secured three wins and gave up only two earned runs in two starts in the playoffs.
Khalil Greene put together some very consistent numbers for the Padres and was voted second in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 2004, losing out to Canadian-born Jason Bay. His career was derailed by anxiety at age 29, and he never returned to form. Greene ended his playing days with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Russ Adams, thought to be the shortstop of the future for the Blue Jays, never materialized as everyone hoped. His story is very reminiscent of players just not quite good enough for the major league level and too good for Triple-A. In his only full season with the Jays, Adams batted .256 with eight home runs and 63 RBI. Adams last played for the Buffalo Bisons in 2011 and batted .180.
Cypress Falls HS
Scott Kazmir was once one of most promising hard-throwing lefties in the majors. Injuries and control problems contributed to his regression and subsequently led to his demise. He was out of professional baseball after 2011; however, a comeback that started in the Independent Leagues in 2012 has earned him a spring training invitation with the Cleveland Indians. Kazmir is currently on track to become the Indians' fifth starter.
Ohio State University
One of the biggest names from the Moneyball era and Billy Beane’s golden boy, Swish has to be one of the most excitable players in the game, and the fans love him for it. With a career .361 OBP, he still exemplifies the Moneyball attitude and is always good for at least 20-plus home runs and 80-plus RBI. Swisher signed a four-year deal worth $56 million with the Cleveland Indians after the 2012 season.
Rancho Bernardo HS
Cole Hamels is regarded as one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game. He is one of the most consistent pitchers and can be counted on for 200 innings and 200 strikeouts almost every season. He led Phillies starters with 17 wins and a 3.06 ERA in 2012.
San Diego State University
This lefty specialist hasn’t seen much success since making his major league debut in 2005. He last played Triple-A in 2012 for the Colorado Rockies and had a 1.12 ERA in 16 innings. Royce Ring’s career ERA sits at over 5.20 in 99 appearances.
Lawrence E Elkins HS
James Loney was sixth in the 2007 ROY voting and put together two consecutive 90 RBI seasons (2007 and 2008) but has never developed the power that goes with playing a corner infield position. Loney is set to be the Rays' starting first baseman in 2013.
Exciting, fast and now part of the Washington Nationals. Denard Span has spent the last five years with the Twins and is one of the best at his position. A true leadoff hitter, courtesy of a career .357 OBP, he can only become more successful with the offseason trade.
Bobby Brownlie spent seven years in the minors as part of the Cubs and Atlanta Braves organizations before retiring in 2010. He is currently a certified player agent for the Scott Boras Corporation.
Since making his debut at 25 in 2004, Jeremy Guthrie led the league in losses with 17 twice. He's played on some bad teams: the Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals, contributing to his career record of 22 games under .500.
Parkview High School
Jeff Francoeur started his career as the next Mickey Mantle, batting .300 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI, earning in a third-place finish in the ROY voting despite playing only 70 games. Now playing for his fourth team in eight years, Mantle he is not, but who can be?
University of Kentucky
Known for getting guys out with location rather than speed, Joe Blanton is consistent. He has topped 190 innings every year and is good for 10-12 wins a year. He has 83 wins over nine years and is a solid fourth or fifth starter.
Matt Cain has taken a backseat to the “Freak,” Tim Lincecum, in San Francisco, but now Cain has stepped up and is the leader of the Giants pitching staff. Cain has been an All-Star three times, threw a perfect game in 2012 and is a two-time World Series champion.
University of Maryland
John McCurdy never advanced past Double-A with the A’s. He last played in 2006 for the Stockton Ports, batting .271 with 12 home runs and 55 RBI.
Mater Dei HS
Originally drafted as a shortstop, Sergio Santos showed good power, belting 20 home runs in Double-A for the Blue Jays, but too many strikeouts was his downfall. A strong arm at short allowed him to make a transition into a closer at the big league level. Arm trouble forced him to miss most of 2012, but he did have 30 saves for the Chicago White Sox in 2011 while recording over 13 strikeouts per nine innings.
Rockhurst High School
Signed by the Texas Rangers after being drafted 19th overall in the first round of the 2005 MLB June Amateur draft from Stanford University. He hit .245 with 14 HR and 46 RBI for the Phillies last season.
Northeast Texas Community College
Derick Grigsby spent two years in the Astros organization never advancing past Single-A. Grigsby battled depression after a death in his family and has been out of baseball since 2004.
California State University Fresno
Ben Fritz has been a part of the A’s and Detroit Tigers and has never advanced past Triple-A. He has amassed 45 wins over his nine professional seasons and has spent the last two years in the Independent Leagues with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League.
Greg Miller appeared in more than 200 games for the Dodgers at every single minor league level. He struck out 450 batters in 422 innings and ended his career in 2009 with a career 3.86 ERA.
Ball State University
Luke Hagerty had a 1.13 ERA and a 5-3 record with Boise in his first season; however, that did not translate into success. Only once in his six seasons was his ERA at the end of the season, below 6.35. He played his last games with the Schaumburg Flyers of the Independent League in 2008.
Palm Beach Gardens HS
Matthew Whitney played for three different organizations in his eight-year career: the Cleveland Indians, Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics. He hit 32 home runs and drove in 113 while batting .299 in 2007 for the Lake County Captains and Kinston Indians. Whitney ended his minor league career with over 340 RBI.
Kingsway Regional HS
Dan Meyer played five MLB seasons and appeared in a career-high 71 games as a reliever for the Florida Marlins in 2009. Meyer played for the Long Island Ducks of the Independent Atlantic League in 2012.
University of Alabama
One of the biggest surprises of the draft, Jeremy Brown was another one of the hyped Moneyball draft picks, and someone that no one thought would have any type of baseball career let alone make it all the way to the show for five games in 2006. Brown spent six very productive seasons in the A’s minor league system before calling it quits in 2007. He is a career .268 hitter with an A’s-friendly .370 OBP.
Chadd Blasko Appeared in 58 minor league games and last played in 2007. He ended with a 15-14 career record.
University of Evansville
Steve Obenchain finished with a 23-24 record in the minors and last played for the Independent Evansville Otters of the Frontier League in 2007.
Orange Coast College
Injuries, rumours and disputes with the Cubs limited this first-rounder to two appearances in two years. Matt Clanton has not pitched since 2003.
St. Mary's College of California
Mark Teahen had most of his success with Kansas City Royals between 2005 and 2009, consistently driving in 50 or more runs each year. He is a career .264 hitter and spent 2012 with the Washington Nationals Triple-A team.
University of Texas at Austin
Mark Schramek hit 22 home runs and drove in 104 between 2004 and 2005 for Reds minor league teams. He also struck out 265 times in those two years. He wound up a career-.226 hitter in four minor league seasons.
Micah Schilling never advanced past Single-A in six minor league seasons.