MLB History

MLB Draft 2011: The Worst First-Round Pick in Each Team's History

Anthony LifrieriContributor IJune 6, 2011

MLB Draft 2011: The Worst First-Round Pick in Each Team's History

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    VIERA, FL - MARCH 02:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals looks on from the dugout during a Spring Training game against the Florida Marlinsat Space Coast Stadium on March 2, 2011 in Viera, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Ah the MLB Draft.  The unsung hero of talent influx in Major League Baseball.

    Every year, the draft introduces us to future superstars like Evan Longoria, Joe Mauer and Derek Jeter.

    Some of these picks are brilliant, and some of them are horrible. 

    The MLB draft is really the only draft where every first-round pick is a liability, and few players are a sure-fire All-Star.

    In fact, more first rounders are busts than booms, and every team is guilty of some major bust.

    Here is a list of every team's biggest bust in the MLB draft:

Chicago White Sox: Danny Goodwin

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    The White Sox used their No. 1 overall pick in the 1971 draft to select Danny Goodwin, a stud high school catcher. 

    However, their pick would go completely wasted as Goodwin chose to attend college at Southern University and A&M.

    So in return for being baseball’s worst team in 1970, the White Sox were rewarded with nothing. 

    Goodwin’s story as a bust doesn’t end here though, he would still be a major talent and would again be drafted No. 1 overall by:

California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Danny Goodwin

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    The Angels too used a No. 1 overall pick on Goodwin in 1975, and while Goodwin would reach the show for the Angels, he would not produce.

    Goodwin only played three seasons for the Angels, most of them as the DH. 

    Goodwin’s career line is rather embarrassing.  He hit .236 with 13 home runs and 81 runs batted in. 

    Not horrible for a season, but for a career:  A major bust.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Sergio Santos

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    TUCSON, AZ - FEBRUARY 25:  Sergio Santos of the Arizona Diamondbacks poses for a portrait during Diamondbacks Photo Day at Tucson Electric Park on February 25, 2005 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    The Diamondbacks envisioned Sergio Santos to be their franchise shortstop when they drafted him towards the end of the first round of the 2002 draft.

    He was progressing through the minors well until 2005, when the D-Backs sent him and Troy Glaus to Toronto in exchange for Miguel Batista and Orlando Hudson.

    Batista and Hudson didn't do much for the D-Backs, but that’s okay because Santos did nothing for the Jays who would later release him.

    There is a happy ending to this story.  Santos was signed by the White Sox and converted to a reliever.

    Santos worked his way through the Sox’s farm system and eventually made it to the White Sox in 2010.

    He is now one of baseball’s best relievers.

Atlanta Braves: Scott Thurman

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    The Braves are still having trouble replacing the Crime Dog
    The Braves are still having trouble replacing the Crime DogRick Stewart/Getty Images

    The Braves used their first-round pick in 2000 on Scott Thurman.

    He was supposed to be a big-time power hitter and the heir apparent to Fred McGriff at first base.

    Instead, Thorman hit .222 with 16 home runs and 50 RBI.  Not bad for a rookie season, but horrible for a season-and-a-half.

    The Bravos sent him down before the beginning of the 2008 season and would not retain him after the season.  He has not seen the majors since.

Baltimore Orioles: Wade Townsend

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    Townsend was viewed as such an elite prospect, the Orioles selected him eighth overall in 2004. 

    However, Townsend wanted to finish his degree at Rice University, and as a result, the Orioles lost negotiating right to him.

    In short, they wasted an eighth overall pick on a player they would never sign.

Boston Red Sox: Greg McMurty

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    The Red Sox drafted Greg McMurty 14th overall in the 1986 draft.

    McMurty was a two-sport star and viewed as a high-ceiling prospect in baseball, but his love for football drove him to the University of Michigan, where he received a full ride.

    As a result, McMurty never signed with the Sawx.

    Bummer for the Red Sox, but the city of Boston would still be graced by his Athletic feats. 

    McMurty would play four years for Boston’s own New England Patriots of the NFL.

Chicago Cubs: Ty Griffin

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    Peter Griffin’s cousin Ty was drafted ninth overall by the Cubs in the 1988 draft.

    He was a hero of the 1988 US Olympic team and had a ton of momentum going into the draft.

    Griffin was viewed as such a can’t-miss prospect; experts thought the Cubs would move Ryne Sandberg to third to clear the way for him.

    Sandberg, in actuality had nothing to worry about because Griffin never sniffed the major leagues.

Cincinnati Reds: Jeremy Sowers

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    GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  (EDITORS NOTE: This images was digitally desaturated.) Jeremy Sowers #45 poses for a portrait during the Cleveland Indians Photo Day at the training complex at Goodyear Stadium on February 28, 2010 in Goodyear, Arizona.  (Phot
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Sowers was drafted 20th overall by the Reds in the 2001 draft because he was one of high school baseball’s best pitchers.

    However, somebody in scouting forgot to tell the Reds Sowers didn’t like the Reds, because he never signed with the club, and instead, chose to attend Vanderbilt University.

    The Reds wasted the pick on a player they’d never sign, and like Danny Goodwin, Sowers story would not end in Cincinnati…

Cleveland Indians: Jeremy Sowers

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    BOSTON - OCTOBER 02:  Jeremy Sowers #45 of the Cleveland Indians delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox on October 2, 2009 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Sowers put up good numbers at Vandy.  Good enough for the Indians to use the sixth pick in the 2004 draft on him.

    Sowers rocketed through the Indians’ farm system and even had a good rookie season when he reached the show.

    Unfortunately for Sowers and Cleveland, he greatly regressed his sophomore season and would never recover from the sophomore slump.

    Since 2009, he has not pitched in the majors.

    His career ERA is 5.18.

Colorado Rockies: Matt Harrington

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    Harrington was a stud pitching prospect when the Rockies took him seventh overall in 2000.

    The Rockies wasted their pick on him because he would never sign with the team.


    This one is not so much the club or player’s fault as it was first agents who would not agree to a $4 million deal with a guaranteed call-up to the show by the end of 2002.

    Harrington would never reach the big leagues due to his second agent being unable to agree to a deal with a team before lackluster Independent League production caught up with him.

Detroit Tigers: Matt Anderson

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    24 Feb 2002:   A portrait of RHP Matt Anderson #14 during the Detroit Tigers media day at Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, FloridaDIGITAL IMAGE Photographer:  M. David Leeds/Getty Images
    M. David Leeds/Getty Images

    Anderson was one of the top pitching prospects when he was once one of baseball’s most highly touted prospects and was drafted first overall by the tigers in 1997.

    Anderson rocketed through the minors and made it to the pros to fill a bullpen need.

    He had a bit of a career with the Tigers, but his stats were unspectacular at best over the next five seasons.

    Anderson tore an armpit muscle and was never the same again, losing over 10 MPH off of his once 100 MPH fastball.

    After 2003, he left Detroit and had a cup of coffee with the Rockies in 2005.  He has not been in the majors since.

Florida Marlins: Josh Booty

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    21 Feb 1998:  Josh Booty of the Florida Marlins at Spring Training at the Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Craig Melvin  /Allsport
    Craig Melvin/Getty Images

    The Marlins took Booty with the fifth pick of the 1994 draft, and he was expected to become the team’s franchise player.

    Booty was a brilliant defender and did make it to the club in 1997, when the Marlins won the World Series.

    However, Booty’s offensive numbers were unspectacular, and he decided to peruse his passion of football in 1999, when he enrolled at LSU.

    The Marlins’ biggest mistake was in drafting Booty, they passed on Nomar Garciaparra, who was taken in the same round.

Houston Astros: John Burke

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    23 Feb 1998: John Burke #37 of the Colorado Rockies at Spring Training at the Hi Corbett Field in Tuscon, Arizona.
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Burke is yet another story of not signing with the team that drafted.

    This time, Astros fell victim to not signing the No. 6 overall pick in 1991, and their loss became the Rockies’ loss in 1992, when they drafted him with their first ever amateur draft pick.

    Burke’s major league career was a bust.  He had an ERA of close to seven and was in the show for less than a year.

Kansas City Royals: John Simmons

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    The Royals first ever first-round draft pick was easily their worst.

    They selected John Simmons 23rd overall in 1969 but were unable to sign him, so he never played a single game for the Royals or their organization.

    This debacle makes us all appreciate how great their farm system is now, and how it took decades to assemble it.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Luke Hochevar

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    SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 08:  USA Team All-Star pitcher Luke Hochevar of the Kansas City Royals deals against the World Team All-Star during the XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game at AT&T Park on July 8, 2007 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jef
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    The damage to this pick is somewhat lessened because it was a supplemental first-round pick, but it’s still pretty bad.

    The Dodgers drafted him 40th overall after in 2005 but never signed him.

    It was deja vu all over again for the Dodgers and Hochevar, who couldn't come to an agreement in 2002 because he wanted to go to college.

    The second story was just plain bizarre.

    Hochevar, the Dodgers and agent Scott Boras could not negotiate a contract. 

    Hochevar then switched agents and finished a deal that included a near $3 million signing bonus.

    The next day, he rehired Boras and reneged on the deal.

    After that, the Dodgers washed their hands of Hochevar.

Minnesota Twins: Ryan Mills

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    4 Mar 2001:  Ryan Mills #60 of the Minnesota Twins throws the ball during the Spring Training Game against the Boston Red Sox at the Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida. The Twins defeated the Red Sox 5-4.Mandatory Credit: Ezra Shaw  /Allsport
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Twins liked Ryan Mills enough to take him sixth in the 1998 draft.

    He led the Arizona State Sun Devils to the College World Series and had a super-high ceiling.

    However, Mills never panned out for the Twins and never even sniffed the show.

    He retired after a six-year career in the minors, and the Twins never got the ace they expected.

Milwaukee Brewers: Dylan Covey, Kenny Henderson and Alex Fernandez

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    The Brewers have a history of being unable to sign their first-round picks.

    All three of these players are right-handed high school pitchers, who typically pose the greatest threat of enrolling in college if the money isn’t right.

    That’s why a lot of teams shy away from the high risk-high reward high school players.

New York Mets: Steve Chilcott

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    1987:  Reggie Jackson #44 of the Oakland Athletics bats during a game in the 1987 season. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    I don’t know what’s worse about this pick.

    The Mets first ever No. 1 overall pick in the draft was squandered on Steve Chilcott.

    Chilcott never made it to the big leagues, and the Mets wasted a then huge $75,000 on him. 

    Perhaps to add insult to injury, the Mets passed on some guy named Reggie Jackson, who was drafted a pick later.

    From what I understand, Jackson was pretty good.

New York Yankees: Brien Taylor

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    Taylor is another #1 overall pick that never made it to the big leagues.

    When the Yankees took Taylor in 1991, and many thought he would become one of the game’s all-time great pitchers.

    Taylor’s “Advisor” Scott Boras got him an unheard of $1.55 million contract, further raising expectations.

    Boras even called Taylor the best high school pitcher he had ever seen in his life, and he knows a thing or two about talent.

    Taylor pitched well in the minor leagues and was on the fast track to the show when freak injuries from a fist fight destroyed his arm and his career.

    He lost a lot of velocity off his fastball and the rest of his command, and as a result, never made the big leagues. 

    He and Chilcott are the only No. 1 overall picks to retire without making the big leagues.

Oakland Athletics: Pete Broberg

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    Pete Broberg was drafted second overall by the A’s in 1968, and even pitched for them, but it didn’t exactly go to plan for Oakland.

    The A’s failed to sign him in 1968, and he was instead drafted again in 1971 by the Washington Senators, who immediately promoted him to the Major Leagues, a rare feat for the draft era.

    He went on to have a serviceable career and even managed to play for the A’s in 1978the last year of his career.

Philadelphia Phillies: John Stearns

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    28 Feb 2001:  Coach John Stearns #12 of the New York Mets poses for a studio portrait during Spring Training at Thomas J. White Stadium in Port St. Lucie, Florida.Mandatory Credit: Matthew Stockman  /Allsport
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Stearns was picked second overall by the Phillies in 1969.  He only played one game with the Phillies before they traded him for Tug McGraw.

    The trade worked out well for both sides as McGraw helped the Phillies to a World Series title, and Stearns became a four-time All-Star for the Mets.

    However, what really makes this pick a bust for the Phillies is the two picks taken immediately after him:  Robin Yount and Dave Winfield.

    Both are Hall of Famers, and both are among the greatest players to ever play the game.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Kris Benson

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    I'm taking the moral and journalistic high ground by not including a pictureof Benson's wife.
    I'm taking the moral and journalistic high ground by not including a pictureof Benson's wife.Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    This one’s easy.

    Benson was viewed as a can’t-miss prospect and was drafted first overall by the Pirates in 1996.

    Benson even managed to make it to the show and put together some good years.

    By 2004, the Pirates traded him at the peak of his value for Ty Wiggington and a prospect named Jose Bautista. Yeah, that Jose Bautista you're thinking of.

    Benson pitched fairly well the rest of the season but imploded afterwards.

    You all know the rest of his story.  I will take time to note his wife could have been a major factor for the Mets quitting on him.

San Diego Padres: Matt Bush

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    PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 26:  Matt Bush poses for a portrait during the San Diego Padres Photo Day at Peoria Stadium on February 26, 2006 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Bush was taken No. 1 overall by the Padres in 2004 and was viewed as a “signability pick,” meaning he wasn’t the best prospect but would not cost the money of an elite prospect.

    Huge mistake for the Padres.  Bush never smelt the major leagues as a Padre and has yet to reach the majors since being traded to the Blue Jays.

    Bush got in fights and violated behavioral policies, and was basically, a bigger headache than he was worth.

    The irony is, the Padres drafted him so he wouldn't be a headache.

San Francisco Giants: Matt White

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    Another weird yet true story involving a high school pitcher and Scott Boras.

    The Giants drafted Matt White seventh overall in 1996 and were in negotiations with Boras.

    Boras, the clever fox he is, found a loophole in the MLB rulebook that said a rookie can become a free agent if he isn’t offered a contract within the first 10 days of being drafted.

    White wasn't offered a formal contract in the 10-day period, and he became a free agent.

    He signed with the Tampa Bay Rays and received a $10.2 million signing bonus.

    But the story gets even stranger.

    Injuries destroyed any chance of White making the bigs.  Back and shoulder injuries limited him to 122 minor league games.

    He was still selected to the 2000 Olympics but was injured DURING the plane ride which kept him from participating.

Saint Louis Cardinals: Blake Williams

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    26 Feb 2001:  Blake Williams #82 of the St. Louis Cardinals poses for a studio portrait during Spring Training at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida.Mandatory Credit: Matthew Stockman  /Allsport
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    The Cardinals have a good history of not getting beat on picks.  However, they are not perfect.

    In the 2000 draft, they selected Blake Williams 24th overall.

    Williams stayed in the organization for a few years but didn’t pan out. 

    He never made it past A+ for the Cards, and then went to toil in the IL for a while before calling it quits.

Seattle Mariners: Al Chambers

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    SEATTLE - MAY 23:  Ken Griffey Jr. #24 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the San Diego Padres at Safeco Field on May 23, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Chambers was a the No. 1 overall pick of the 1979 draft, and the Mariners thought they got a franchise player.

    Instead, they got one of the biggest busts in MLB history.  He only played 57 games in the show and had a career .208/2/11line.

    The Mariners as a result would remain in obscurity until they used a later No. 1 overall pick on some guy names Ken Griffey Jr.  He turned out to be pretty good.

Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays: Rocco Baldelli

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    Tampa Bay Devil Rays  outfielder Rocco Baldelli pulls a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays, April 8, 2007 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Jays defeated the Rays 6-3. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
    A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    When the then Devil Rays drafted Rocco Baldelli, everyone thought he was going to be one of the greatest players ever.

    He even drew comparisons to Joe DiMaggio for his five-tool skills and presence.

    Baldelli started our well over the first couple of seasons of his career until injuries ravaged his potential.

    What should have been a career bound for the Hall was destroyed by injuries and a disorder that degraded his muscular endurance causing chronic and horribly painful muscle cramps.

    This is the entry I probably feel saddest writing about, because I thought he was a great player when he was healthy, and even as a Yankee fan I, much like everyone else, wanted him to succeed, even when he was on the Red Sox.

Texas Rangers: David Clyde

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    One of Herzogs greatest regrets was abusing Clydes arm.
    One of Herzogs greatest regrets was abusing Clydes arm.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Like Brien Taylor, David Clyde was a high school phenom of a pitcher drafted first overall.

    This time, Clyde was drafted by the Rangers in 1973, seein action immediately and pitching well in his first couple of starts.

    He logged a ton of innings, and as a result, developed arm trouble, that manager Whitey Herzog blames on himself for allowing the young pitcher to throw so many pitches.

    Clyde never stuck and was sent to the minors in his third season, and despite a brief comeback with the Indians, he never became the ace he was expected to be.

Toronto Blue Jays: James Paxton

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    The Blue Jays drafted Paxton out of Kentucky with a supplemental 1st round pick.

    He was considered one of college baseball’s best pitchers and a steal of a pick being at the end of the 1st round.

    Instead, he never signed with the team and would eventually lose his amateur status at Kentucky.

    Paxton would eventually go to the IL and the Seattle Mariners, where he is a prospect in their farm system.

Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos

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    Here’s an interesting story.

    Condredge Holloway was drafted by the then Expos fourth overall in 1971 as one of the best amateur shortstops in the country. 

    Baseball was Holloway’s passion, and it looked like the Expos made a great pick.

    However,he never signed with the Expos because of his mother. 

    Holloway’s mother, the first African-American employee of NASA, insisted her son go to college

    Because he was 17, Holloway could not sign a contract without her mother’s signature.

    She refused to sign the contract, and instead, Holloway went to Tennessee and turned to football, where he became the first African-American starting quarterback in the SEC.

    He then went on to have a Hall of Fame career in the Canadian Football League.

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