Each year, the 30 clubs will select 50 or so players in June's amateur draft, but they only end up signing around 30 of those players. Some are high schoolers that decide to go to college while others are already in college and return to school in an effort to boost their stock. There's about a million other reasons why a player can go unsigned as well.
As you can imagine, there have been several big time players who didn't sign when they were first drafted. If the Yankees had been able to sign Mark Prior when they selected him as the 43rd overall pick in the 1998 draft, might his career have played out differently?
Here's a list of some other famous players who at one point were drafted but declined to turn pro...
- Daniel Bard: Selected in the 20th round of the 2003 draft by the Yankees.
- Barry Bonds: Selected in the 2nd round of the 1982 draft by the Giants.
- David DeJesus: Selected in the 43rd round of the 1997 draft by the Mets.
- J.D. Drew: Selected by the Giants in the 20th round of the 1994 draft, then second overall by the Phillies in 1997.
- Rich Harden: Selected by the Mariners in the 38th round of the 1999 draft.
- Todd Helton: Selected by the Padres in the 2nd round of the 1992 draft.
- Aaron Hill: Selected by the Angels in the 7th round of the 2000 draft.
- Luke Hochevar: Selected in the 39th round of the 2002 draft and the supplemental first round of the 2005 draft, both times by the Dodgers.
- Randy Johnson: Selected in the 4th round of the 1982 draft by the Braves.
- Matt LaPorta: Selected in the 14th round of both the 2003 and 2006 drafts by the Cubs and Red Sox, respectively.
- Tim Lincecum: Selected in the 48th round of the 2003 draft by the Cubs, then the 42nd round of the 2005 draft by the Indians.
- Brian Matusz: Selected by the Angels in the 4th round of the 2005 draft.
- Mark McGwire: Selected in the 8th round of the 1981 draft by the Expos.
- Jonathan Papelbon: Selected by the A's in the 40th round of the 2002 draft.
- David Price: Selected by the Angels in the 19th round of the 2004 draft.
- Justin Smoak: Selected in the 16th round of the 2005 draft by the A's.
- Mark Teixeira: Selected by the Red Sox in the 9th round of the 1998 draft.
- Chase Utley. Selected in the 2nd round of the 1997 draft by the Dodgers.
- Jason Varitek: Selected in the 23rd round of the 1990 draft by the Astros, and then the 1st round of the 1993 draft by the Twins.
- Barry Zito: Selected by the Mariners in the 59th round of the 1996 draft, and then the Rangers in the 3rd round of the 1998 draft.
There's countless more examples out there, do you know of any others?