You might have missed it, but the MLB First-Year Player Draft was this week. Not every draft choice lives up to their billing. Here are a few in recent memory who didn’t.
Every list of draft choices who didn’t live up to their potential starts with Matt Bush.
The number one selection overall in the 2004 draft by the San Diego Padres as a shortstop, Bush came in with high praise. He was thought of as the man who was going to be the best shortstop of his generation by scouts and experts. That didn’t happen. After five years in the Padres system, including a conversion to pitcher, Bush was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.
He never even suited up for an official game for them and sat out the entire 2009 season after being released. In 2010, he signed a minor league contract with the Rays. Throughout his entire minor league career he battled various issues relating to drinking, partying, and character in general.
In 2012 that all finally caught up to him, He ran over a 72 year-old man in a drunken rage, and spent three years in prison as a result. After his release from prison, he signed a minor league contract by the Texas Rangers, and was in danger of being the first number one pick overall to never play a game in the Major Leagues before they called him up in May of 2016. He is currently in the role of the Rangers closer.
In 2011, the Milwaukee Brewers held two first round draft choices, and spent those two draft choices on a pair of fast-track college starting pitchers, Taylor Jungmann from Texas and Jed Bradley from Georgia Tech. After some early struggles, Jungmann made his way to the Major Leagues a little later than expected, and has become a very solid middle of the rotation Major League starter.
Bradley though, didn’t work out, at all. He never played a game for the Brewers, and was traded to the Atlanta Braves in June of 2016. He did make a few appearances in the Braves bullpen last September, and the Orioles invited him to Spring Training this year, but he didn’t make their roster. Having lost his interest in baseball, Bradley retired in May.
Former Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik was known for a lot of high draft choices that didn’t live up to their hype, and Danny Hultzen is perhaps the poster boy for that. The Mariners selected Hultzen number two overall in 2011 expecting him to eventually become their ace in short order. He never played a Major League game and is currently a free agent. He is finishing his degree at Virginia, and will attempt a baseball comeback next season.
The Milwaukee Brewers selected Matt LaPorta seventh overall in 2007 as a first basemen. A year into his minor league career he was being touted as one of the future premier hitters in baseball. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2008 for C.C. Sabathia in that famous four-player deal. His career barely lasted three seasons and he hit 31 home runs in that entire span. He retired in 2014 after spending his final season in the Mexican League.
These are the four that have really stood out to because they never got close to a fraction of what was expected of them.