The Major League Baseball amateur draft first came about in 1965. Since then, plenty of first overall picks have made a mark in the bigs, while many others have disappointed. Having already looked at the top selections from 2010-19, 2000-09, the 1990s, the 1980s and the 1970s, we’ll now turn our focus to the first five players who went No. 1 overall…
1965 – Rick Monday, OF, Kansas City Athletics:
You know you’re going back in time when you’re talking about the Kansas City Athletics, who moved to Oakland prior to the 1968 season. In any event, the KC version of the franchise made Monday the first No. 1 overall pick ever. Monday wound up as a very productive big leaguer with the A’s, Cubs and Dodgers from ’66 through 1984, during which he made two All-Star teams and batted .264/.361/.443 with 243 home runs and 31.1 fWAR. However, Monday may be best known for saving the American flag from being burnt by a couple of miscreants in LA in 1976. Take it away, Vin Scully.
1966 – Steve Chilcott, C, Mets:
- Chilcott’s one of the few No. 1s to never appear in the majors, thanks in part to injuries. He played in the minors with the Mets and Yankees from 1966-72, but could only muster a .569 OPS during that stretch. Speaking of the Yankees, you know who went one pick after Chilcott? Mr. October, Reginald Martinez Jackson. That should still sting for the Mets.
1967 – Ron Blomberg, 1B, Yankees:
- A fun bit of trivia: Blomberg was the first-ever DH, in 1973. In regards to the position, he told Bill Ladson of MLB.com in 2017: “I love the DH. I hate to watch the pitchers hit. It’s the most boring thing in the world, even in batting practice. The DH is like the three-point [shot] in the NBA and college basketball. It brought a lot of excitement to the game.” It’s a polarizing topic, but I totally agree with Blomberg, who had a wonderful career as a hitter when he was healthy enough to play. Although injuries limited Blomberg to 461 games and 1,493 plate appearances with the Yankees and White Sox from 1969-78, he hit .293/.360/.473 with more unintentional walks (140) than strikeouts (134).
1968 – Tim Foli, SS, Mets:
- Statistically, Foli – taken three picks before Thurman Munson – didn’t have a great impact. The defense-first infielder was a .251/.283/.309 hitter who hit 25 homers in almost 6,600 trips to the plate as part of a half-dozen different teams from 1970-85. Nevertheless, Foli made quite a mark on the game in transactions. The Mets traded him, Mike Jorgensen and Ken Singleton (arguably a Hall of Famer) to the Expos in 1972 for outfielder Rusty Staub, who became a Mets icon. Twelve years later, Foli was part of a Yankees-Pirates deal that brought Jay Buhner to New York. Buhner didn’t last long as a Yankee, to Frank Costanza’s chagrin.
1969 – Jeff Burroughs, OF, Washington Senators:
- We’re going so far back that Ted Williams was the Senators’ manager when they chose Burroughs, who debuted the next season. Burroughs ended up as a good major leaguer from 1970-85 with the Senators, Rangers, Braves, Mariners, A’s and Blue Jays, with whom he combined for a .261/.355/.439 line with 240 HRs and 18.3 fWAR. That said, the Senators may have been wiser to choose righty J.R. Richard, the No. 2 pick and someone who had a better career than Burroughs.