The 20 Worst First-Round Draft Picks in MLB History
Nothing in life can truly be considered a "sure thing."
The 2007 New England Patriots know that. After going 16-0 during the regular season and winning both of their playoff games that season, the team was a sure thing to beat the New York Giants in the Super Bowl to be the first 19-0 team in NFL history.
Clearly, that didn't happen.
Rewind baseball history 10 years. In 2002, both Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were first-ballot Hall of Fame players.
Now, that's not so sure either.
The point is, the same principal can be applied to the MLB draft. While every team obviously hopes to make the proper selection, all too often, they find coal in their proverbial stockings rather than a coveted gift.
One thing that you can be sure of: This list will have 20 slides, each of which will contain one of the 20 worst first-round draft picks in Major League Baseball history.
***All statistics provided are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
20. Steve Dunning
Pitcher Steve Dunning was selected second overall in the 1970 draft by the Cleveland Indians.
While he did last seven years in baseball, Dunning only found himself playing in 136 career games as a Major League pitcher.
He owns a career record of 23-41 in 84 starts while finishing 18 games.
With a lifetime 4.56 ERA and 1.511 WHIP, Dunning certainly never panned out to be the pitcher the Indians envisioned.
He was traded midway through the 1973 season to the Texas Rangers. From there, he bounced to the California Angels and Montreal Expos before finally landing with the Oakland A's in what would be the final year of his career, 1977.
19. Jay Franklin
Jay Franklin was drafted second overall in the 1971 MLB draft by the San Diego Padres.
As a RHP in high school, he owned an impressive 29-1 record. It's easy to see why the Padres would want to roll the dice on the man.
However, Franklin only ever made it to the big show for three games in his entire career—all of which came in the 1971 season.
He owned an 0-1 record with a 6.35 ERA and 1.588 WHIP in 5.2 total innings.
That year, future Hall of Fame outfielder Jim Rice was selected 15th overall by the Boston Red Sox and All-Star RHP Rick Rhoden was taken 20th overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
18. Paul Wilson
With the first pick overall in the 1994 MLB draft, the New York Mets selected RHP Paul Wilson.
Wilson spent seven seasons in the majors between 1996 and 2005. He played in 170 career games.
His career record is 40-58 with 153 career starts. Wilson owns a lifetime 4.86 ERA and 1.450 WHIP.
In that same 1994 draft, All-Stars Ben Grieve, Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Konerko and Jason Varitek were all selected by the 14th pick overall.
17. B.J. Wallace
Drafted third overall by the Montreal Expos, pitcher B.J. Wallace looked to be a safe bet.
He was a member of the U.S. baseball team and thought to be able to adapt well in the Expos system.
That never came to fruition, as Wallace never made it to the big dance.
Notably, however, Wallace did have a nice run in with law enforcement in 2011, when we was arrested on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine.
The true salt on the wound for the Expos/Washington Nationals franchise? The team passed on Derek Jeter, who was taken sixth overall, for Wallace.
Outfielder Johnny Damon was also selected later in the first round, 35th overall.
16. Dewon Brazelton
Drafted third overall in 2001, Dewon Brazelton, a RHP out of Middle Tennessee State University, played a grand total of 63 games in the majors spanning over five seasons.
Brazelton owns a lifetime 8-25 record with a 6.38 ERA and a 1.683 WHIP.
He spent five seasons with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays before moving on to the San Diego Padres, Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals organizations.
In taking Brazelton, the Rays opted not to select other players such as Mark Teixeira, who was taken fifth overall, Gavin Floyd, another RHP that was taken fourth overall, or David Wright, the 38th pick overall.
15. Paul Coleman
Paul Coleman represents the sixth overall pick in the 1989 MLB draft.
Once regarded as a five-tool player, the St. Louis Cardinals figured it was an easy gamble. Coleman would, optimistically, be their right fielder for years to come.
But Coleman was out of baseball altogether by 1996, having never played a game in the big leagues.
The part that hurts the most: The Chicago White Sox selected Frank Thomas just one pick after Coleman. Additionally, Mo Vaughn and Chuck Knoblauch were selected later that same round.
14. Adam Johnson
The Minnesota Twins selected Adam Johnson with the second overall pick in the 2000 draft.
After losing out on Adrian Gonazalez, who went first overall to the Florida Marlins, the Twins felt that Johnson could be a solid addition to their pitching long term.
Instead, Johnson appeared in just nine games for the Twins with a 1-3 record, a 10.25 ERA and a 2.051 career WHIP.
By targeting the RHP, the Twins missed out on Adam Wainwright, who was drafted 29th, as well as All-Star second baseman Chase Utley.
13. Tommy Bianco
In 1971, the Milwaukee Brewers opted to take infielder Tommy Bianco with the third overall pick.
Ideally, Bianco would have helped the team offensively for the long term. However, in his 18 games in the majors during the 1975 season, Bianco managed a measly .176 batting average.
The Brewers passed up on future Hall of Fame outfielder Jim Rice when selecting Bianco.
On the bright side, Bianco can at least tell his grandchildren that he once pinch hit for none other than Hammerin' Hank Aaron. And in his one season on the Brewers, Bianco's $15 thousand salary was just $1 thousand less than future Hall of Fame Brewer Robin Yount, who made $16 thousand.
12. Josh Booty
Selected fifth overall in the 1994 draft by the Florida Marlins, Josh Booty was a two-sport athlete with tremendous upside.
The Marlins gave Booty a seven-figure signing bonus to bypass college and sign with the club
He spent three seasons with the Marlins, batting .269 lifetime before calling it quits to attend LSU for football.
Booty was selected that season over a litany of solid players like Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Konerko and Jason Varitek.
11. Corey Myers
Drafted fourth overall in 1999, Corey Myers spent nine seasons in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization without ever making it to the majors.
He batted .272 lifetime down on the farm, but never impressed enough to get the call-up.
The Diamondbacks passed on players like Barry Zito, Ben Sheets and Alex Rios that year in favor of Myers.
10. Dave Roberts
The San Diego Padres selected Dave Roberts of the University of Oregon first overall in the 1972 draft.
Though he's currently a scout in the Tigers system, his professional career never panned out as well as his amateur career did.
In 1972, Roberts was named NCAA All-American and NCAA Player of the Year and led the nation in home runs.
In the majors, he batted .239 over 10 seasons for four different teams.
9. David Clyde
In the 1973 draft, the Texas Rangers selected LHP David Clyde.
Clyde was supposed to be the Stephen Strasburg of his generation. Sadly, the pressure might have just been too much for him.
He only lasted five seasons in MLB, finishing with a 18-33 lifetime record, a 4.63 ERA and a 1.380 WHIP between the Rangers and Cleveland Indians.
The real stinger for the Rangers is the fact that not one, but two future Hall of Fame players were drafted sequentially, with just one pick separating them from Clyde. Robin Yount was selected third and Dave Winfield fourth overall.
8. Matt Anderson
The first pick in the 1997 draft went to the Detroit Tigers. They selected RHP Matt Anderson out of Rice University.
Despite owning a winning record of 15-7 during his career, Anderson played just seven seasons in the big leagues, appearing in 257 games—245 of which for Detroit, the other 12 for the Colorado Rockies.
Anderson owns a lifetime 5.19 ERA and 1.582 WHIP.
That year's draft had a plethora of future All-Stars: J.D. Drew, Troy Glaus, Vernon Wells, Michael Cuddyer, Jon Garland, Lance Berkman and Jayson Werth.
All of them, obviously, were taken after Anderson.
7. Al Chambers
The Seattle Mariners selected Al Chambers first overall in the 1979 MLB draft.
While they would hit the draft jackpot in 1987 by selecting Ken Griffey, Jr. first overall, this would not be the case with Chambers.
He managed just three seasons in the bigs and 57 career games with a .208 lifetime average.
Future All-Stars Andy Van Slyke and Tim Wallach were selected later on in the first round.
6. Shawn Abner
Outfielder Shawn Abner was selected first overall by the New York Mets in 1984 fresh out of Mechanicsburg Area High School in Pennsylvania.
The righty managed a six-year career in the majors and a lowly .227 lifetime batting average.
The Mets missed out on Mark McGwire later in the first round and both Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, who were drafted in the second round.
5. Bryan Bullington
Unlike some of the other picks on this list, when the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Bryan Bullington first overall in the 2002 draft, it was immediately a head-scratcher.
Bullington has played in five seasons since being drafted, posting a 1-9 record in 26 games. He owns a 5.62 ERA and a 1.580 WHIP.
The Bucs managed to miss out on B.J. Upton, Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels and Matt Cain.
All eight of those players have been All-Stars. And most have signed, or are about to sign, very rich contracts.
4. Danny Goodwin
Danny Goodwin wasn't content with being the first overall pick just once, so, he did it twice.
Originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox with the first overall pick in 1971, Goodwin decided instead to go to college and was drafted first overall in 1975 by the California Angels.
He never lived up to all that hype.
Despite lasting seven seasons in the majors, Goodwin owned a lifetime .236 average and career .674 OPS.
Hall of Fame outfielder Jim Rice was taken after him in 1971, while another Hall of Fame outfielder, Andre Dawson, was selected after him in 1975.
3. Steve Chilcott
Though he was selected first overall in the 1966 draft, catcher Steve Chilcott never lived up to that billing.
Once thought of as a power hitting catcher, Chilcott never made it to the majors. Perhaps the Mets were a bit nervous with their pick.
Why the nerves? Here's a bit of trivia for you: Chilcott was the first player ever selected for the amateur baseball draft.
The second player? Future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.
2. Brien Taylor
Selected first overall by the New York Yankees in the 1991 draft, Brien Taylor was supposed to be one of the greatest pitchers of his generation.
He had a fastball that could hit 100 mph and the ability to strike out upwards of two batters per inning.
Though he lasted seven seasons in the minors, Taylor never truly panned out to be as advertised.
The Yankees passed up on players like Manny Ramirez and Cliff Floyd, who were also drafted later in the first round in 1991, for Taylor.
1. Matt Bush
In 2004, the San Diego Padres selected Matt Bush out of Mission Bay High School in California for two reasons: He was local, and he would give them a hometown discount.
There is no explanation as to how the team passed on Justin Verlander for Bush. Verlander went second overall to the Tigers.
Bush never made it to the majors, owning just a .219 lifetime average in the minors. While he is still just 26 years old, there is little chance of Bush stepping into a major league ballpark unless he buys a ticket.
Both Jered Weaver and Billy Butler were drafted later on in the first round that year.