As we all remember, Ryan Leaf was drafted 2nd overall in the 1998 NFL Draft. Leaf and first overall pick Peyton Manning were hyped up to be a terrific tandem in the NFL who would turn their respective teams around.
Now, Manning is arguibly one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, whereas Ryan Leaf played in the NFL from 1998 to 2001, failing to make an impact on any team.
We will look at Pirates first round draft picks from the turn of the century to now, and who they could have selected.
Burnett was drafted by the Bucs with the understanding that he had a fastball in the low 90's, a killer off-speed pitch, and amazing control.
He won the Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year award in 2001 and 2002. That, however, would be the last awards he would win.
He rose through the minor league ranks, but was sidelined in 2006 as well as 2007 due to surgery. Burnett was traded with Nyjer Morgan to Washington for Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan.
Notable Players passed up: Adam Wainwright, Boof Bonser, Xavier Nady, Grady Sizemore
You might wonder why this image of John Van Benschoten was chosen.
Firstly, it was the only action shot of him, which doesnt say much about his career.
Secondly, all the other teams wanted to make him a first baseman, not a pitcher. The Pirates picked him, and made him a pitcher. He led Division-1 college baseball with home runs in his junior year of college.
He was named the Bucs' top prospect in 2003 and 2004, but his major league numbers leave much to be desired: 2-13 with a 9.20 era. He is currently in the Chi-Sox farm system.
Notable Players passed up: Jeremy Bonderman, Dan Haren
Bryan Bullington, first overall pick. Solid numbers in college led to this decision.
He is a career minor league pitcher, with only 18.3 innings pitched with the Pirates Big Club. In his career, he is 50-35 with an era of 3.84...in the minors.
In the majors, he is 0-5 with an era of 5.08. Bullington is now with Toronto, after having his contract purchased from the Indians.
Notable Players passed up: BJ Upton, Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, Jeremy Hermida, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, Jeff Francoeur, Joe Blanton
Stay tuned, as I will go through 2003-2005 next time.