First Overall Picks Without MLB Experience

Carlos Correa joined an exclusive club when the Astros selected him first overall in last night's draft. Some of the game’s best and most accomplished players — Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Gonzalez, Joe Mauer, Justin Upton, David Price, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, for example — were the top selections in their respective drafts.

Correa also joined a smaller, less celebrated club when Bud Selig called his name. He’s now one of six first overall selections who hasn’t appeared in an MLB game. Here’s a list of the others:

  • Gerrit Cole, Pirates (2011) – Cole, 21, has a 2.53 ERA with three times as many strikeouts as walks at Class A Bradenton this year. He's on the path to the Major Leagues. 
  • Tim Beckham, Rays (2008) – Beckham is now serving a 50-game suspension following a second violation of the minor league drug prevention and treatment program. The 22-year-old owns a .263/.330/.379 batting line in five minor league seasons.
  • Matt Bush, Padres (2004) – Bush, who was selected as a shortstop, is now a pitcher in the Rays' organization. He's on the restricted list following an arrest for driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident.
  • Brien Taylor, Yankees (1991) – Taylor was considered an elite pitching prospect, but he injured his shoulder in a physical altercation following the 1993 season and his pitching ability deteriorated. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan told the story in detail back in 2006.
  • Steven Chilcott, Mets (1966) – The Mets selected Chilcott with the top pick in baseball's second ever draft, but the catcher never played above Triple-A in seven pro seasons.

39 Responses to First Overall Picks Without MLB Experience Leave a Reply

  1. vtadave 3 years ago

    Mets probably should have went with Reggie there over Chilcott.

  2. 55saveslives 3 years ago

    Matt Bush = Biggest Bust EVER!

    • johnsilver 3 years ago

       Oh no.. That would be Brien Taylor… Georgie it seemed like even plotted toward the end of the season with management to get him with lineups that team ran out to finish with the worst record in the game in ’90 for that monumental 1st overall bust…

      • Matt Bush still has a slight chance of playing the majors. It’s very small but some team may take a crack at him when he gets out of jail

        • johnsilver 3 years ago

           Understand that. Many would have said Hamilton was a monumental bust with his substance abuse as well until 4-5 years ago also. Point is? Bush still has a chance/time to turn his life around if he chooses to turn his lifestyle around and get his head screwed on straight and focus as Hamilton did.

          • SublimeOne 3 years ago

             Well not only is Bush on the restricted list he’s also in jail on $440k bond.  The article here doesn’t even tell the whole story, the restricted list is the least of his concerns.  He ran over a motorcyclist with an SUV….driving drunk with no license.  Drove an SUV over the guy’s head and didn’t stop.  He’s going to prison, it’s not just a simple DUI fender bender.  He was drafted as a SS but couldn’t hit minor league pitching, so they converted him to a pitcher but he can’t get minor league hitters out.  He has a combination of drug problems, injuries and just flat out not being a very good baseball player that will insure he never plays in the majors when he gets out of prison in 8 years.

          • johnsilver 3 years ago

             I am familiar with the Bush story :-) I live in the TB area and read it, like the Elijah Dukes stuff that went on here locally and most people never heard about nationally.

          • seanbergmanrules 3 years ago

            Hamilton was drafted first because he was one of the best talents ever. Bush was drafted first because the Padres were cheap. Not really comparable.

      • MB923 3 years ago

        Look at the 1991 draft and look at the 2004 draft. The only player in the 1991 draft (at least in the first and supplement rounds) that went on to have a successful career was Manny Ramirez (who was a different position of course)

        2004 draft, as mentioned Matt Bush first

        Pitchers the Paders passed on – Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver

        Also, Taylor was rated the #1 prospect in baseball the very next year and #2 the year after. Bush has never even cracked the Top 100 in any year

        Here’s also a note on the 1991 draft. The highest Career WAR by any pitcher in that draft was Aaron Sele (17.5)

        I would have to say the Padres messed up their pick more so than the Yankees. It’s not the Yankees fault Teylor’s career was all but ruined because of a fist fight. Then again, it’s also not the Padres’ fault for Bush’s drug and alcohol problems

        • Guest 3 years ago

          I totally agree about the 1991 draft — other than Manny, the first few rounds didn’t have a lot of impact players (Shawn Green, Cliff Floyd, Dmitri Young are the best of the rest; and there were some gems lower down, like Derek Lowe).

          I don’t think either Brien Taylor can be considered the biggest #1 draft pick bust ever — because of the wasteland that was the 1991 draft and also the freak injury (he was very good in the minors for two seasons before the injury and definitely on his way to the Bronx). Also, the money involved now is so much greater that it’s tough to compare eras.

          Regardless, I think bigger busts are the ones who make it to the majors but suck at the highest level of competition. Luke Hochevar is wearing that crown right now (Longoria/Lincecum/Kershaw/Morrow all drafted right behind him) but at least he’s still trying.

          • MB923 3 years ago

             “Regardless, I think bigger busts are the ones who make it to the majors
            but suck at the highest level of competition. Luke Hochevar is wearing
            that crown right now (Longoria/Lincecum/Kershaw/Morrow all drafted right
            behind him) but at least he’s still trying.”

            Completely agree

        • johnsilver 3 years ago

           It was just the irony on Taylor MB923. It was like some of those lineups they ran out there near the end was for the sole purpose of “winning” the rights to Taylor and it really was a fight near the end.

          I remember also the hype surrounding how good the guy was supposed to be and was upset the Yankees got him…

          Speaking of fights and ruined careers.. That was what derailed Mark “the bird” fydrich also, tho it never really came out, except as rumors… He played some for Winter Haven when Boston signed him later on in ’83 and he was trying that comeback.. he was a really nice guy.

          There everyone goes.. My insider of the day…

      • Slopeboy 3 years ago

        That’s absolute rubbish and you know it! Steinbrenner never cared about Draft picks, prospects nor rookies. His mantra was to win now at any cost! It was not until Stick Micheal that the Yanks starting looking forward. until then, George was willing to trade youngsters with potential for proven MLB’ers even when they were past their prime. Willie McGee for Bob Sykes, Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps are just two moves that come mind. Steinbrenner would never allow his team to give less than 100% effort everyday. To state that George would tell his team to tank games in order to get a pick which he didn’t see as valuable is not true.

        We’re pretty much contemporaries and understand that your dislike of Steinbrenner borders on hatred. I, unlike many younger Yankees fans, know that he did a whole slew of awful things, so I don’t see as him ‘Saint George’. And don’t give him all the credit for the later success the team had, other than he wrote the checks.
        But it bothers me when you unfairly dump on him as you’ve done in the past and are doing now.
        Call him out when it’s warranted, but be fair and above all-accurate.

  3. MB923 3 years ago

    What’s the rule on minor league players getting suspended testing positive? Like how many until a lifetime ban?

  4. Purple_Hazed 3 years ago

    The late Doug Million should also be on the list.

    • Gumby65 3 years ago

      He went 7th overall, although in the 1st round; the key phrase is “first overall”.

  5. bigpat 3 years ago

    Goes to show even a team as perfect as the Rays can make mistakes. It would be game over if the Rays took Posey instead. 

    • Your team had a chance to take him too. 

      • bigpat 3 years ago

         Right, but that’s not the point. Tampa has had a great team loaded with talent in the majors and minors for years, and all they’ve needed was a solid catcher, and having someone like Posey would have really solidified that lineup.

        Right now their roster looks a little ugly in some spots in the infield, but overall the past two years they were set everywhere but catcher. I was just saying how nice things would be if we could always draft in hindsight.

      • Ian_Smell 3 years ago

        I remember thinking that draft day that the only person other than Alvarez I might have wanted the Pirates to pick was Posey. Sigh, I was they could have him. 

  6. BlueSkyLA
    BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

    I wonder if anyone has done a comprehensive study of draft picks and historical performance. It would be interesting to know what percentage of first-rounders made it to the majors, and what percentage of lower round picks made it. If I had to guess it would be that anyone chosen in the first ten rounds is about equal in those terms.

    • start_wearing_purple
      start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

      I can’t give you exact numbers but I have scanned the draft lists in the past. There’s a pretty big drop off in major league experience after the supplemental round. 

      • BlueSkyLA
        BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

        Could be, but I frequently see MLB players who were picked fairly deep in the rounds, so I wonder. Teams throw the dice every time they draft, and especially in the costly early rounds. They are trying to project whether today’s teenager will have what it takes 2-5 years or more down the road. That’s a big spin of the Wheel of Fortune no matter how you look at it. Notice how many of the big flops cited here did themselves in with bad behaviors.

    • bglaszcz 3 years ago

      Having trouble finding the article, but I read a very extensive one article on it. I’d imagine I found the link on this website, and it seems it was about a year ago. I’ll keep poking around and post it if I can find it.

  7. So Cole is in A ball while Bauer will probably be up by the trade deadline and Hultzen will likely be up in September? Seems like the pirates goofed. 

    • start_wearing_purple
      start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

      …Because Cole won’t be the first guy called up?

      • Gumby65 3 years ago

        unless Bauer goes dark…

        Sorry, 24 still on the brain.

    • gradylittle 3 years ago

      Different teams have different strategies as to how fast the like to call up players. There are many examples of young star pitchers being called up way too soon. For example: Andrew Miller, Luke Hochevar, Mike Pelfrey. (Though Pelfrey has had a few good seasons, he struggled mightily at first.) I think the Pirates would be smart to take their time with Cole. 

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

         Some of that was the fault of giving out MLB type contracts and putting players on the 40 man roster and that was fixed in the new CBA banning it.. Maybe the *1* thing good about the new CBA..

        Miller was possibly ruined by that.. Craig Hansen.. Many others being rushed to the big leagues way early.

        • gradylittle 3 years ago

          That’s also a very good point. Still can’t blame the Pirates for keeping Cole in A ball for 10+ starts.

    • bigpat 3 years ago

      I think Cole will end up just fine, he and Taillon are dominating in the low minors right now, and Arizona is a little more aggressive with Bauer. I personally thought Bauer was the better choice but I still have a ton of faith in Cole, and he has the classic body and pitch makeup of a stud, so I guess they wanted less risk.

    • melonis_rex 3 years ago

      Not really. 

      It’s about outcome. Cole still has a higher ceiling than Bauer, even if Bauer’s the first guy called up.

       Also, college guys have more miles on their arms when drafted and college coaches have NO reason to preserve their ace pitchers’ arms, which can be to a disadvantage if the pitcher starts getting hurt early. 

      Although Bauer IS going to be a beast. 

  8. twentyfivemanroster 3 years ago

    There is a group of first overall picks that have played in MLB, led by Luke

  9. BlueSkyLA
    BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

    Sure, it would depend. But since the primary goal of selecting from the draft is to find MLB material (by definition the top few percent of players), I believe the question could be answered by comparing the players’ overall pick number with their number of years of MLB service. You’d have to start many years back so that players currently active in either the minors or majors aren’t included.

  10. vtadave 3 years ago

    It’s not all that frequent.  We hear more about guys like Oswalt, Pujols, Smoltz, Piazza, Hudson, etc. who were picked in the later rounds because it’s unusual to see these late picks have such success.

  11. Dylan 3 years ago

    I’d say he is accomplished. To be 19, and doing what he is doing, I’d agree with Ben.

  12. Slopeboy 3 years ago

    That’s being disingenuous. True Brien Taylor was never a ML’er but he was never able to prove himself. Shortly after signing a $Million dollar deal with the
    Yankees, he got into a childish brawl with some knucklehead who proceeded to break his shoulder. After a year and half of Re-hab he finally came back and was never the same pitcher he was in High School.
    He toiled in the minors for about three years without the velocity or command that he possessed earlier and then was cut.When he’s called a bust, everyone that isn’t familiar with the story assumes that the Yankees made a bad pick or that Taylor had no talent. The facts are that because of a stupid action on his part, his story is inconclusive. He was never able to show what a healthy Brien Taylor could do.

  13. Slopeboy 3 years ago

    You would be more accurate when using the term ‘Bust’ if you referred to his shoulder rather than to Taylor.

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