As you may have already heard, making it as a major league baseball player is a pretty difficult thing to do. In case you haven't, here are some numbers. Back in 2013, Baseball America analyzed the first-year player drafts from 1987 through 2008 to determine what percentage of draft picks will actually reach the major leagues. The number they arrived at was 17.2%. And as you can imagine, the later you go in the draft, the worse your odds become.
Baseball America concluded that if a player is taken in the first round, his chances of making it to the majors is around 73%. That doesn't seem so bad, but keep in mind there are a lot more rounds to go. In rounds 6-10, the chances of making it go down to around 22%, and it gets as bad as 13% for rounds 11-20. Anything past round 20 means you should really think about your profession after baseball, as the odds are under 7%.
For this article, we'll take a look at the players who defied the odds by not only making it to the majors as a late round draft pick, but also performed at a decent level. For the list, we only considered players who were taken in rounds 20 or later, starting from the year 2000.
Lastly, the order of these rankings is based on how good or bad the player performed when they were in the big leagues, and how long they lasted. Some players on the list are still playing, so we took into consideration the potential they had moving forward.
15 15. Dallas Braden: 2004, Round 24
14 14. Tommy Hanson: 2005, Round 22
13 13. Brian Wilson: 2003, Round 24
12 12. Scott Feldman: 2003, Round 30
11 11. Rajai Davis: 2001, Round 38
10 10. Sergio Romo: 2005, Round 28
9 9. Evan Gattis: 2010, Round 23
8 8. Jarrod Dyson: 2006, Round 50
7 7. Derek Holland: 2006, Round 25
6 6. J.D. Martinez: 2009, Round 20
5 5. Kevin Kiermaier: 2010, Round 31
4 4. Adam LaRoche: 2000, Round 29
3 3. Jaime Garcia: 2005, Round 22
2 2. Jason Bay: 2000, Round 22
1 1. Jose Bautista: 2000, Round 20
Jose Bautista easily takes the cake on this list, but his career did not get off to such a hot start. From 2004 to 2009 Bautista was a struggling role player, never amassing more than 16 home runs. He wound up playing for five different teams in 2004, making him the only player to have played for that many different ball clubs in a single season. Nobody wanted to keep him around until the Blue Jays traded for him in 2008. Towards the end of the 2009 season, hitting coach Dwayne Murphy suggested Bautista implement a leg kick to his swing. Thanks to that minor change, his career took off in 2010 as he led the league in home runs with 54. In fact, no player has more home runs since the 2010 season than Joey Bats.
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