The MLB Draft has seen a lot of disappointments in the early picks, even those who showed an incredible amount of promise as prospects.
The Major League Baseball amateur draft is different from those in other sports in that the team with the worst record is guaranteed to receive the 1stoverall pick in the following year’s draft. That provides a little bit of assurance to organizations that, even though receive the unfortunate title of having the worst record, they will have the first shot at landing a high-impact player through the draft. However, the MLB Draft is also a big challenge for front offices. There are so many high school and college baseball talents across North America eligible to be drafted each year. The sheer volume makes it very difficult for teams to assess which talents are truly worth scouting and potentially using one of their valuable draft picks on. Add in the fact that there are 30 other teams all looking to acquire the same type of high-upside and high-impact player, and the challenge increases.
This all means that, even though a team has a top pick in the draft, it does not mean that the prospect will end up becoming a quality major leaguer. In fact, there have often been players drafted in the very late rounds who have turned out to be solid players in the major leagues.
For this article, we will be taking a look at each of the top three draft picks from the 2000s (2000 to 2009). The players who were drafted in the top three each year will be ranked from worst to best, based on how their baseball careers have turned out so far.
30: Donovan Tate – 3rd Overall, 2009
Donavan Tate was an outfielder who was drafted 3rd overall in the 2009 MLB draft by the San Diego Padres.
Tate never was able to make it to the major leagues, and never made it out of the minor league rookie levels in six seasons.
Part of Tates’ struggles were due to injuries suffered as well as having to undergo treatment for various off-field issues.
Most recently, Tate returned to college and resumed his college football career for the Arizona Wildcats.
29: Chris Gruler – 3rd Overall, 2002
With the 3rd overall pick in the 2002 MLB draft, the Cincinnati Reds selected right-handed pitcher Chris Gruler. Even though Gruler was widely expected to be a solid major league starting pitcher, he was never able to make it to the major leagues. Gruler battled several injuries during his time in the lower minor league levels, which ultimately led him to retiring from baseball altogether. Gruler will always wonder what could have been, and the Reds probably regret taking Grueler over future All-Stars such as Zack Greinke (6th overall in 2002) and Prince Fielder (7th overall in 2002).
28: Kyle Sleeth – 3rd Overall, 2003
The Detroit Tigers selected right handed pitcher Kyle Sleeth with the 3rdoverall pick in the 2003 MLB Draft. Sleeth, like many of the other players drafted early in the draft, unfortunately never made it to the major leagues. He was one of the most highly regarded prospects in all of baseball for a while, however injuries stalled any progression he was making on the mound. This unfortunately meant that Sleeth had to call it a career only a few years after first being drafted. Sleeth never made it any higher than Double-A.
27: Josh Vitters – 3rd Overall, 2007
The Chicago Cubs might now be one of MLB’s top teams, aided greatly by their success at the draft. This was not always the case, as evidenced by the Cubs drafting Josh Vitters 3rd overall in the 2007 draft.
While Vitters eventually did end up spending a little bit of time in the major leagues, Vitters was never the superstar the Cubs were hoping for.
Vitters has spent most of the past few years playing for various independent league baseball teams.
26: Greg Reynolds – 2nd Overall, 2006
The Colorado Rockies decided to draft Greg Reynolds with the 2nd overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft. Reynolds was a right handed pitcher drafted out of Stanford, who ultimately proved to be another draft pick bust. He made it to the major leagues in 2008 for a brief time, and again in 2011 for the Rockies. He tried to break in with the Cincinnati Reds in 2013 to no avail. The 32-year-old is now out of baseball altogether, after a career that was largely spent in the minor leagues.
25: Adam Johnson – 2nd Overall, 2000
Adam Johnson was drafted 2ndoverall in the 2000 draft by the Minnesota Twins. The right-handed pitcher only ended up spending parts of two years in the major leagues, both with the Twins. Unfortunately, neither of his appearances in the major leagues were particularly memorable or lasted too long. He only had 17 career strikeouts and a disastrous 10.25 ERA. The Twins skipped over a couple of other All-Stars in the 2000 draft, which makes the Twins regret this draft choice even more. Johnson was out of baseball within a few years of having been drafted.