There are a lot of amazing sports that I'm sure you would love to be able to play professionally. But perhaps the increased awareness of concussions in football has made you a little leery. And the contracts that they hand out in the NHL can be pretty nice, but wouldn't you much rather be earning the kind of money they can in the MLB? Especially when at least it's not like in the NBA when you know who will win at the start of the year! Playing in the MLB was the hope for the 20 prospects that you're about to read about. Though if this painful draft choice was made for your franchise, I'm sure you may not need the history lesson in just how damaging it was!
Some of these players flamed out once they finally got their chance to appear on the big stage. But that may not be as disappointing as the other entries on our list that include players - who despite their high draft standing - never were able to show their clubs that they had what it takes to be a contributing member of the team and finally get out of the minor leagues.
And while some players on our list may be able to say that it wasn't their fault that their career didn't go the way they wanted as their body just broke down as they struggled with various injuries, that still may not have made it any less disappointing when they realized their dream had come to an end. Especially when their dream of playing in the MLB looked a lot more like a nightmare.
These are the Top 20 MLB Prospect Flops Since 2000
20 Matt Bush (2004, Pick #1, Padres)
Matt Bush had enough promise to be drafted by the Padres with their first overall pick in 2004. But to be fair, when they drafted him, they had hoped he was going to play shortstop but he ended up playing as a pitcher!
Bush's first attempt at an MLB career was plagued with issues off the field. No team gave him a shot in the big leagues his first go around.
Bush did eventually make his debut after signing with the Texas Rangers in 2015 where he has a career record of 10-6.
19 Greg Reynolds (2006, Pick #2, Rockies)
Greg Reynolds never managed to find himself much success in the MLB. The Rockies gave him a shot, but after struggles with his ERA - including 6.19 over a 3 game stretch in 2011 (even if it included 3 wins in all of the games) - decided that their team was stronger without him. Reynolds was given the opportunity to play again for the Reds in 2013 but was shelled over 5 innings giving up 5 runs and in the process ended what was left of his big league dreams. He ended up finishing out his career with a record of 6-11 and a 7.01 ERA.
18 Dustin Ackley (2009, Pick #2, Mariners)
When Seattle decided to draft Dustin Ackley with the 2nd overall pick, they thought he could become a consistent hitter that the team could rally behind for the foreseeable future. But Ackley had only played 5 years for the Mariners before the organization decided that the then, .243 career batting average, wasn't good enough for him to save his spot on the team. Ackley's production ending up dipping even lower to .212 over the last 2 years of his career that he spent as a member of the New York Yankees. He signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels in 2018.
17 Ian Stewart (2003, Pick #10, Cubs)
Ian Stewart had a few moments where he shined and must have thought that he was going to have a great career in the Major Leagues. Such as receiving the NL Rookie of the Month back in July 2008 when he posted a line that included a .432 average and 15 RBIs.
But sadly for Stewart, the moments of brilliance were few and far between for a career that ended with a .229 BA. Stewart was released from the Cubs after he took to Twitter to voice frustrations about playing in the minor league. A decision that got him suspended, fined and fired. He did play 24 more games in the MLB for LAA but batted .176.
16 Tyler Matzek (2009, Pick #10, Rockies)
Tyler Matzek had his biggest opportunity to succeed in 2015 when the Colorado Rockies decided that he was showing enough promise to be picked to be part of the starting rotation for the year. But like his other years since being drafted in 2009, the year ended with him playing in the minor leagues. His entire MLB career saw him put together a career record of 8-12 with an ERA of 4.06.
While the White Sox and the Mariners both saw enough potential in him to come on board, neither saw enough to offer him a shot in the big leagues.
15 Matt LaPorta (2007, Pick #7, Brewers)
Matt LaPorta was drafted by the Brewers but by the time he had made his MLB debut, he was a member of the Cleveland Indians. Which isn't exactly what Brewers fans were hoping of their #7 pick. As a member of the Indians, he put together 4 seasons that I'm sure if you weren't a fan of him on draft day, you would have no idea he was once drafted so high. With his last season seeing him bat .241 and only manage one home run before being demoted after 22 games, it's safe to say LaPorta had higher hopes for himself. Overall he batted .238 in the majors with 31 home runs.
14 Jeremy Brown (2002, Pick #35, Athletics)
If I'm being upfront there was nothing all that offensively bad about the career of Jeremy Brown. But after being selected with the 35th pick in the 2002 draft, it wasn't until 2006 that he made his debut. After 5 games in which he managed 3 hits, the Athletics designated him for assignment and that was all he can say about his experience in the big leagues. He decided to announce his retirement from the game of baseball the following season. Brown is one of the players featured in the successful film, Moneyball. Too bad his career wasn't more successful!
13 Bubba Starling (2011, Pick #5, Royals)
As far as I am concerned, Bubba Starling has himself a fantastic name that I'm sure announcers would be more than happy to say. But outside of that, there sadly isn't too much to say about this former #5 pick. Bubba hasn't played in the big leagues and while he's still playing minor league ball, he still has struggled. Bubba admitted to nearly quitting the game back in 2017 but has persevered as of now which is something you may find commendable. Injuries may hold him back though as earlier this year he suffered a strained oblique injury leading some to believe he'll never play in the big leagues.
12 Josh Vitters (2007, Pick #3, Cubs)
There are some players on our list who despite their high draft status, never played well enough in the minor leagues to earn the chance to play in the MLB. But after being drafted in 2007, Josh finally got his chance to contribute when he played 36 games for the Cubs back in 2012. Sadly, Vitters ended up putting together a less than stellar .121 batting average that just made people sad. He can say he's hit a home run though, as he put 2 over the wall in his short-lived career along with 5 runs batted in and 12 hits.
11 Delmon Young (2003, Pick #1, Devil Rays)
Prior to Young making his debut in the MLB, people knew there were some issues. This included a 50 game suspension for throwing his bat at an umpire while playing for the Durham Bulls. When he did debut, he was quite impressive putting up a .317 average (and .283 over his 10-year career). But success on the field was never Young's problem. Along with the umpire incident, Young was arrested in 2012 after drunkenly yelling out an anti-Semitic slur. He was arrested again in 2016 after attempting to enter a closed club and made racist comments towards the Hispanic employee as well as choking him.
10 Barret Loux (2010, Pick #6, Diamondbacks)
The Arizona Diamondbacks would have been thrilled to sign to a healthy Barret Loux to a contract after signing him with the 6th overall pick. But after they performed a physical following the draft, they found complications that indicated that there was going to be a potential need for surgery in the future to deal with elbow damage. Loux signed with the Rangers but never made it to the big leagues. His career was cemented in the ground when in 2013, he did, in fact, have a shoulder injury that made him miss a season of minor league ball, followed by an elbow injury.
9 Tim Beckham (2008, Pick #1, Devil Rays)
Tim Beckham was picked #1 in the 2008 draft, which meant that he for all intents and purposes had all the potential in the world. But it wasn't until 2017 that Beckham started to really make too much noise in the MLB. By the time he was traded to the Orioles that year, he had batted .259 on the year. But his 50 game stretch with Baltimore saw Beckham hit at a .306 pace. Beckham is currently recovering from an injury but his 2018 season was fairly disappointing with the worst average of his career at .211 over 35 games.
8 Donavan Tate (2009, Pick #3, Padres)
Donavan Tate's last baseball jersey was that of the minor league team the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, which is a far cry from where this #3 pick had hoped to end up. Though even more accurately, the disappointment may come from the fact that Tate was never able to play in the MLB. Tate's brief career included being suspended for 50 games in 2011 after violating the league's drug prevention and treatment program, which also understandably may have discouraged some teams from taking a look at him. The Dodgers did bring him in for the 2016 season but was released from the team the same year without getting the chance to play for the big league club.
7 Jeff Clement (2005, Pick #3, Mariners)
One of the most important positions for the Mariners to try and lock down in the 2005 draft was who they wanted to play catcher. They thought they had picked the man for the foreseeable future in Jeff Clement. But as you can tell by the fact that Jeff Clement is one of the names on our list, you can infer that they were unfortunately very wrong. Clement's 2 years in Seattle saw a .237 batting average and only 7 home runs. He was even worse in his last 2 years with Pittsburgh, putting together a campaign with a .193 average over a 77 game stretch.
6 Dewon Brazelton (2001, Pick #3, Devil Rays)
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays wanted to bolster their pitching when they went with Dewon Brazelton with the 3rd overall pick in the 2001 draft. But Dewon's MLB career never came to fruition in the way anyone had hoped and he was traded to the Padres in 2005 for the chance to try and turn his career around. There he also struggled enough to be sent down to their minor leagues where he bounced around for a variety of teams including the Royals and Pirates but did not achieve anything of significance in his attempts to make it back to the MLB.
5 Lastings Milledge (2003, Pick #12, Mets)
Lastings Milledge may have hoped that he would have a lasting career in the league. But after 6 years it became apparent for this former #12 pick that the league had seen enough of him and sent him packing. While his .269 batting average is not the worst on this list, it's also not great. His time with the Mets ended after receiving a foot injury and getting traded to the Nationals. There he also failed to make a strong impact before he was traded to the Pirates where, to his credit, he batted .277 in his 2010 season that lasted 113 games.
4 Joe Borchard (2000, Pick #12, White Sox)
Joe Borchard's name may have drafted way back in 2000, but if he had managed to put together a career worthy of someone inducted into the Hall of Fame, White Sox fans would still love saying his name and he may have even gone as far as to have his number get retired by the team! Instead, he only played 6 years in the majors and only 4 of them were with the White Sox as he also signed with the Braves and Giants. He started out his rookie year with a batting average of .222 and by the time his career was over that had slinked down to .205.
3 Mark Prior (2001, Pick #2, Cubs)
If you only watched baseball in 2003, you would think that Mark Prior would probably continue to improve on the things that succeeded for him on the mound and he would keep being one of the best pitchers in the game. Because in case you don't remember, that year he put together a record of 18-6 with a fantastic ERA of 2.43. But the rest of Mark's career was a far cry from that, due in part to his inability to stay healthy. Mark's worst year was also his last when in 2006 he had a 1-6 record with a 7.21 ERA.
2 Danny Hultzen (2011, Pick #2, Mariners)
Seattle Mariners know what it's like to watch a dominant pitching prospect live up to expectations because of Felix Hernandez who has often left batters puzzled and Mariners fans delighted. But they also know what it feels like to have a pitching prospect fail to live up to expectations because of Danny Hultzen. Who despite being taken 2nd overall in the 2011 draft by the Seattle Mariners, never managed to make his way to the MLB. Part of the reason that his path was derailed was due to suffering from a torn labrum and rotator cuff that led to several surgeries to help fix.
1 Bryan Bullington (2002, Pick #1, Pirates)
The Pittsburgh Pirates were hoping Bryan Bullington was going to be the answer that they needed to help win some games and perhaps even make it to the postseason. But by the time his MLB career had finally come to a close, Bullington put together a career record of 1-9 and an ERA of 5.62 which, as I'm sure you can understand, didn't make anyone feel confident seeing him on the mound. He also did not make his debut until the 2005-2006 season which meant the fanbase had to wait a few years before he finally trotted out on to the field and proceeded to disappoint them.