Many people watch just about every selection in the NFL Draft, and you don’t have to take too much time out of your life to watch the entirety of the NBA Draft. However, there aren’t that many people that pay attention to the MLB Draft each summer despite millions of fans that watch the sport. A lot of that has to do with how long the draft is, but pretty much every player that is drafted is someone that you don’t know about.
When baseball players make their debut in the Major League, a lot of casual fans assume that the players were drafted by the team and worked their way up through the system. There are plenty of star players that were drafted by other teams, though, never making it big before getting traded away or released.
It’s time to look back at the pasts of some of our favorite current Major League Baseball players, seeing which teams drafted them and gave up too early. Some made the bigs with the teams that brought them into professional baseball while others toiled in the minors for too long. Here are the top 15 current MLB players who made no impact with the team that drafted them.
15 Addison Russell
Pace, Florida native had originally planned on playing at Auburn, but passed up college baseball when he was drafted 11th overall by the Athletics in 2012. Addison Russell quickly became the top prospect in the organization and looked poised to be another draft success for general manager Billy Beane. Instead, Beane got desperate for some late season help in 2014 and traded Russell away before he could make an impact on the Major League roster.
Russell was sent along with two other players (including Dan Straily) to the Cubs in exchange for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. It would end up being a win for the Cubs as they not only got their starting shortstop for years to come, but they ended up getting Jason Hammel back the next year. In two seasons, Russell has hit .240 with 34 home runs for the Cubs, including a (controversial) 2016 All Star appearance.
14 Josh Reddick
The 2006 MLB Draft had some big names go in the first round that included Clayton Kershaw, but the Red Sox waited until the 17th round to select Josh Reddick from Middle Georgia College (which is not a made-up school). Reddick had to wait until 2009 to make his debut, and had sporadic appearances in three seasons with the Red Sox. Overall, he would bat just .248 with 10 home runs over 143 games.
Uninspired by his play, the Red Sox shipped him off to Oakland with two minor leaguers in exchange for Ryan Sweeney and Andrew Bailey. In his first season with the Athletics, Reddick would mash 32 home runs and 85 runs batted in, though his batting average struggled. Still, the Red Sox probably wouldn’t make that trade again, as Reddick hit .257 with 84 home runs and 300 runs batted in after five seasons with the Athletics, and is now a member of the Astros.
13 Jake Arrieta
If you want to know why Theo Epstein will never have to buy a drink in Chicago, this is already the second great deal he has made on this list, and there are still two more. This time, it’s 2015 National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. Arrieta was a fifth round selection in 2007’s draft by the Orioles. Not able to use his full arsenal of pitches, Arrieta struggled in three and a half seasons with a 20-25 record and 5.46 ERA.
In July 2013, the Orioles were willing to part ways with Arrieta (and Pedro Strop, another current Cub) for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. Arrieta has been a staple of the Cubs rotation ever since while the Orioles are kicking themselves over the trade. In just over three seasons in Chicago, Arrieta has amassed a 54-21 record, a 2.52 ERA, the aforementioned Cy Young Award, and of course, a World Series.
12 Yasmani Grandal
Coming to the United States from Cuba, Yasmani Grandal was originally drafted by the Red Sox late in the 2007 draft. He would turn that down, however, and attend the University of Miami and waited three years until he became the 12th overall pick in 2010 by the Reds. Grandal spent time in the minor league system for Cincinnati, but never made the Major League roster. Instead, he would be traded away to San Diego with Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso and Brad Boxberger (all for Mat Latos).
Grandal would not get much playing time in his first two seasons with the Padres, and finally played in 128 games in his third season. Before the 2015 season, Grandal was traded again, this time to the rival Dodgers. Grandal made the All Star Game in his first season, though he was even better in 2016 with a .228 average, 27 home runs and 72 runs batted in.
11 Kyle Hendricks
Theo Epstein strikes again as he takes a pitcher that teams couldn’t figure out and allowed him to become a star. Kyle Hendricks had been drafted by the Angels out of high school, but opted to go the Ivy League route and attended Dartmouth. In 2011, Hendricks would get drafted again, this time by the Texas Rangers in the eighth round. Before he could debut for Texas, he was traded to Chicago with Christian Villanueva for Ryan Dempster in 2012.
Hendricks would make his debut in 2014, and has been a big part of the Cubs rotation ever since then. In three seasons, he is 31-17 overall with an ERA of just 2.92. 2016 was his best season yet, as his ERA was the best in the National League at 2.13.
10 Wil Myers
Unlike Hendricks, Wil Myers decided that getting into professional baseball instead of college was the route to go. Myers was a third round pick by the Royals in the 2009 draft. Though he was putting up huge numbers, the Royals never moved him beyond the single A level in the minors for a few years. Before the 2013 season, Myers was involved in a deal with the Rays where James Shields was the centerpiece.
Myers had a strong 2013 season that saw him win the Rookie of the Year Award with a .293 average and 13 home runs. Myers played one more season in Tampa Bay before being traded again, this time to the Padres. Myers finally became a full-time starter in 2016 with 157 games, and was named as an All Star with a season total of 28 home runs and 94 runs batted in.
9 D.J. LeMahieu
Not everything Theo Epstein does is brilliant, and one of the first moves he made while in charge of the Cubs was a bad one. D.J. LeMahieu was drafted by the Cubs in 2009 in the second round, and he moved up through the minor league system. In 2011, he made his debut and played in a total of 37 games with a .250 batting average and no home runs. After the season, he was traded with Tyler Colvin in exchange for Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers.
The Rockies certainly one that trade, as LeMahieu is still a solid member of the team. LeMahieu has improved every season, and made the All Star Game in 2015. However, 2016 was even better as he batted .348 to lead the league while adding 11 home runs and 66 runs batted in.
8 Adam Jones
A lot of people forget that Adam Jones had ever played for a team that wasn’t the Baltimore Orioles. Jones was actually drafted in the first round of the 2003 draft as either a shortstop or a pitcher (it wasn’t clear at the time). Jones eventually moved to the outfield, and made his debut with the Mariners in 2006. Over two seasons, Jones would play in 73 games, batting .230 with three home runs.
The Mariners decided to part ways with the young Jones, sending him to Baltimore in 2008 in a massive deal that brought Erik Bedard to Seattle. The Orioles don’t regret that trade at all, as Jones is still in their starting lineup. In nine seasons, he has had five All Star appearances with a .278 average, 222 home runs and 730 runs batted in.
7 Max Scherzer
Before he could win a Cy Young Award with the Nationals, and even before he became Cy Young winner with the Tigers, there was a time where Max Scherzer was in the desert. The Diamondbacks selected Scherzer 11th overall in 2006, and he would spend two seasons in the Minor Leagues. Scherzer was called up in 2008, though he would finish 0-4 that season with a 3.05 ERA.
The next year, Scherzer showed some glimpses of stardom with a 4.12 ERA and 9-11 record, though the Diamondbacks didn’t have plans for him in the future. He was traded to Detroit as part of a three team trade where Curtis Granderson was the centerpiece. Scherzer has had a pair of 20 win seasons and four All Star appearances since then, in addition to his two Cy Young Awards.
6 Andrew Miller
Throughout the American League side of the playoffs, the only thing that people were talking about was how strong the Cleveland bullpen was, and for good reason. The centerpiece of the bullpen was Andrew Miller, who had been acquired from the Yankees earlier in the 2016 season. The Indians are actually the sixth MLB team that Miller has played for in his career, though.
Miller was originally drafted by the Tigers with the sixth overall pick in 2006 (ahead of Clayton kershaw), but struggled in Detroit. In two seasons, Miller finished with a 5-6 record and 5.69 ERA. Before heading to the Yankees, Miller would make stops in Florida, Boston and Baltimore. It took several years for Miller to find his stride, but he has been on fire over the past three seasons.
5 Noah Syndergaard
Before ‘Thor’ could lay his hammer down in New York CIty, he had to make a stop up north. Syndergaard was the 38th overall pick in 2010’s draft by the Blue Jays and headed to the minors up in Vancouver and then Lansing, Michigan. Syndergaard was traded after the 2012 season with three other players to the Mets so that Toronto could acquire R.A. Dickey and two others.
Syndergaard would debut in the Major Leagues with New York in 2015, becoming a sensation with a 9-7 record and 3.24 ERA. His 2016 campaign was even better as he became an All Star with a 14-9 record and 2.60 ERA. Still very young, Syndergaard is only expected to get better, and should anchor down the Mets rotation as the ace in 2017.
4 Corey Kluber
Andrew Miller isn’t the only staple of the Indians pitching staff that wasn’t drafted by the team. Corey Kluber was originally a San Diego Padres fourth round pick back in 2007. Kluber advanced to the double A level of the Minor Leagues before he was traded at the 2010 deadline to Cleveland as part of a three team trade. Kluber made his debut in 2011, and became a part of the lineup in 2013.
Since then, Kluber has been an All Star and Cy Young winner that has amassed a 58-44 record with a 3.33 ERA. With at least 215 innings in each of the past three seasons, Kluber is the undisputed ace of the Indians rotation that looks to get back to the World Series once again in 2017.
3 Josh Donaldson
Just imagine how lethal the Cubs already potent offense would be if they still had Josh Donaldson. Originally, Donaldson was a first round pick by Chicago in the 2007 draft, but he struggled once he hit the single A level in the minors. Donaldson still had potential, though, and the Athletics saw that when they acquired him (and three other players) for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin.
Donaldson made his debut in 2010, making just 34 plate appearances. He would return to the MLB in 2012 for more significant playing time and broke out the next year. Donaldson became an All Star in 2014, and was traded after the season to Toronto. Donaldson has been huge for the Blue Jays, winning an MVP Award and two All Star appearances in his first two seasons, batting .291 with 78 home runs.
2 J.D. Martinez
More than 600 players were drafted before J.D. Martinez in 2009, and it was the Astros that finally called his name in the 20th round. Martinez was able to work his way up the ranks, and made his debut in Houston in 2011. Martinez played with the Astros for three seasons, batting just .251 with 24 home runs and 126 runs batted in. Martinez was let go by the Astros after 2013, and the Tigers picked him up.
Though expectations weren’t all that high, Martinez played in 123 games in his first season with Detroit, hitting .315 with 23 home runs. His 2015 campaign was the best so far, as he was an All Star that hit .282 with 38 home runs and 102 runs batted in.
1 Anthony Rizzo
Now he is perhaps the most recognizable member of the Chicago Cubs, but there was one point in Anthony Rizzo’s career where he was an anonymous Red Sox minor league player. Rizzo was a sixth round pick by the Red Sox in 2007, and stuck around in the minors for several seasons. After 2010, Rizzo was shipped to San Diego as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal.
Rizzo played sparingly in the big leagues in 2011, though he batted just .141 in 49 games with the Padres. He was then sent to the Cubs in a trade that brought Andrew Cashner to San Diego. Since then, Rizzo has played five seasons with the Cubs, batting .273 with 133 home runs and 416 runs batted in, reaching the All Star Game three times and winning a Gold Glove. Of course, the centerpiece was the 2016 World Series.
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