The Pirates ended up taking Gerrit Cole first overall—a stud pitcher out of UCLA.
In baseball more than any other sport, it is impossible to know how draft picks will turn out. So many big-time prospects tear it up in minor league ball but never find success when given an opportunity in MLB.
Cole may end up being the next Roger Clemens or he may never pitch a game in the majors. It has happened before.
In light of all the hype that surrounds draft day, I thought we should take a look back at the past 20 first overall draft picks to see how they turned out. I'd have to say that the results were rather shocking.
Here are—from worst to first—the past 20 first overall draft picks.
Brien Taylor earned his spot on the list by becoming only the second player in MLB history to be drafted first overall but to never play in a big-league game.
The circumstances were unfortunate for Taylor—who actually pitched very well in minor league ball.
Late in 1993, Taylor got into a fight defending his brother where he dislocated his left shoulder and tore his labrum.
Taylor was never the same pitcher again.
The Padres had high expectations when drafting Matt Bush first overall out of high school in 2004. They even drafted him ahead of guys like Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew—who were considered the top talents in that year's draft.
Bush has done nothing but disappoint ever since. He battled many injuries early in his career before the Padres turned him into a pitcher after the 2007 season.
Although he can apparently hit 98-mph on his fastball, Bush has since played for a few different teams and now plays AA ball in the Tampa Bay Rays system.
Bryan Bullington is on a long list of failed Pittsburgh Pirates draft picks. He was selected ahead of Jon Lester, Prince Fielder and Cole Hamels—primarily because the Pirates were worried about whether their pick would sign with them after the draft.
Bullington played parts of five seasons with four different ball-clubs—compiling a 1-9 record with a 5.62 ERA.
He now plays baseball in Japan for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.
Matt Anderson pitched great in the minors after being drafted by the Detroit Tigers first overall in 1997.
He even put together a solid rookie season—going 5-1 with a 3.42 ERA. Unfortunately, in 2002 Anderson suffered a torn muscle in the armpit of his throwing arm and was never again able to hit 90-mph on his fastball.
He played parts of six seasons with the Tigers and Colorado Rockies—compiling a 15-7 record with a 5.19 ERA.
Paul Wilson—a product of Mike Martin at Florida State University—was selected first overall by the Mets in 1994.
Wilson was never able to find the success the Mets had hoped for—leading them to trade him to the Rays in 2000.
In 2004, Wilson finally broke out—going 11-6 for the Cincinnati Reds. Shoulder problems eventually cut his career short.
He ended his career with a 40-58 record and 4.86 ERA.
Beckham was drafted out of high-school in 2008 and is still waiting for his first taste of big-league action.
He is expected to be a five-tool threat and he has a great arm at shortstop.
So far, Beckham has struggled to find his groove and he fell out of the top 50 prospects list heading into 2011.
Hochevar has been a part of some horrible Royals' teams—which is somewhat reflected by his career 18-30 record and 5.68 ERA.
He showed improvement last season but has struggled mightily so far in 2011. Hochevar still has time to bounce back, but it may take a change of scenery to see any real change.
Kris Benson—a stud pitcher out of Clemson University heading into the 1996 draft—was a better pitcher than his career numbers would indicate.
He just happened to suffer so many injuries that he was never able to make it through full seasons before his arm finally gave out for good this past season.
Benson compiled a 70-75 record with a 4.42 ERA across parts of 10 seasons with five different teams.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected Young first overall out of high-school in 2003.
The jury is still out on Young—who the Rays sent to the Minnesota Twins in a package deal that got them Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett.
Young seemed to finally breakout in 2010—batting .298 with 21 homers and 112 RBI. He has been absolutely dreadful out of the gate so far in 2011.
Should he regain form and continue to improve, Young will surely rise into the top 10 on this list.
Nevin was a beast coming out of Cal State-Fullerton in 1992. Although he was drafted as a third baseman, he played both corner infield spots, catcher and in the outfield throughout his career.
Nevin bounced around during his 12 seasons in the league—suiting up for seven different teams.
He ended his career with a modest 208 home runs and one All-Star selection.
I was only 11 years old at the time, but I still remember the hype surrounding Darin Erstad after he was selected first overall by the California Angels in 1995.
He put together a decent career—although not what one would expect out of a first overall pick.
Erstad played in two All-Star games and won three Gold Gloves with the Angels, as well as being a part of their 2002 World Series championship team.
He ended his career with a .282 batting average and 124 home runs.
Harper was selected first overall last season before signing the biggest rookie deal in MLB history.
He was arguably the most hyped player ever leading up to the draft—the norm for any Scott Boras client I suppose.
Harper may be ranked a bit high considering he has never seen a MLB at-bat. What can I say? I guess I fell for the hype.
Harper should join the Washington Nationals for the 2012 season.
Pat Burrell never quite lived up to expectations after being drafted first overall by the Phillies back in 1998.
He has been more than serviceable—going on 300 home runs and 1,000 RBI for his career—although he has never made an All-Star appearance.
Burrell has been a part of two World Series championship teams—with the Phillies in 2008 and with the San Francisco Giants in 2010.
In a few years, Strasburg may be in the top three on this list. With the small sample size we received before Strasburg went down with Tommy John surgery, I'd say being ranked seventh is fair.
Strasburg went 5-3 with a 2.92 ERA before getting injured last season. He struck out a ridiculous 92 batters in only 68 innings.
Strasburg should be back in action to start the 2012 season.
The Diamondbacks drafted Justin Upton as a shortstop out of high-school but he was moved to the outfield before ever playing a game in Arizona.
Upton has made one All-Star appearance in his short career but he appears to finally be coming into his own.
He is a legitimate threat for 30 HR/30 SB if he can stay healthy and is one of the best five-tool threats in MLB. To date, Upton owns a .272 career batting average with 71 home runs.
David Price has quickly established himself as one of the best pitchers in MLB.
The powerful southpaw went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA in 2010 while leading the Tampa Bay Rays to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
During the 2008 season, Price earned a victory and two saves in the postseason as the Rays lost in the World Series.
Price was elected the AL starter for the 2010 MLB All-Star game.
When healthy, Joe Mauer is everything the Twins hoped he would be when they selected him first overall in the 2001 draft.
The three-time AL Batting Champion and former AL MVP owns a .326 career batting average and has made four All-Star game appearances.
In 2009, Mauer became the first catcher in MLB history to lead the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in the same season.
Josh Hamilton was one of the most talented players ever drafted—but his route to the big leagues took some detours before he finally found a home with the Texas Rangers.
After ridding himself of his inner demons, Hamilton has established himself as one of the best players in the game today.
The 2010 AL MVP has made the past three All-Star games and led the Texas Rangers to the World Series last season.
Until I began researching the last 20 first overall draft picks, I had no idea Adrian Gonzalez was taken first overall by the Florida Marlins.
He never played a game with the Marlins before being traded to the Texas Rangers for the 2004 season—where he played in a total of 59 unsuccessful games before going to the San Diego Padres.
A-Gon spent five years turning himself into one of the best first baseman in MLB and is now a leading AL MVP candidate for the Boston Red Sox.
Alex Rodriguez is one of the greatest players in the history of MLB.
He currently sits at 623 home runs and—barring injury—should have no problem taking down the career home runs record held by Barry Bonds.
A-Rod has made 13 All-Star games, won three AL MVP awards and is by far the greatest first overall draft pick in the past 20 years.