Across the major professional sports, entry drafts prove year after year that scouting and developing are an inexact science. More often than not, teams end up with a bust instead of an All-Star. But the high-profile busts are usually the mistakes that are most-remembered. You can't go one NBA draft without being reminded of Kwame Brown, one NHL draft without hearing Rick DiPietro's name and one NFL draft without conjuring up memories of David Carr.
But while NFL, NBA and NHL teams have had their fair share of draft misses, none of them compare to the MLB's first-year player draft. To see evidence of how hard it is to pick a superstar, you have to look no further than the success of No. 1 overall draft picks. Major League Baseball has held a draft every year since 1965. In the 51 drafts, 22 of the 30 MLB teams have had the No. 1 overall pick at least once, with the only exceptions being the Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies. Despite the competitive balance, only one No. 1 overall pick has ever made it to the Hall of Fame: Ken Griffey Jr., who was just elected in January.
While fellow No. 1 overall picks Chipper Jones, Joe Mauer, Alex Rodriguez and Bryce Harper, among others, could eventually join Griffey in the Hall of Fame, there are far more players who haven't even gotten close to baseball's highest honor. With the 2016 MLB Draft less than two months away and the Philadelphia Phillies on the clock first for the first time since 1998, here's a look at the 15 worst No. 1 overall MLB draft picks.
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15 Dave Roberts, 3B, San Diego Padres (1972)
After the San Diego Padres drafted Dave Roberts No. 1 overall, they rushed him right to the majors without playing a minor league game. It worked for the Padres' next first-round pick, Dave Winfield, who eventually reached the Hall of Fame, but not for Roberts. After hitting .244 with five home runs in 100 games in his first year, and .286 with 21 home runs and 64 RBI in his second year, it was all downhill from there. He played eight of the next nine seasons in the pros, but never hit more than 10 home runs in any other season. He finished his career with a .239 average, 49 home runs and 208 RBI in 709 games for the Padres, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies.
14 Brady Aiken, P, Houston Astros (2014)
Brady Aiken was the Houston Astros' third-consecutive No. 1 overall pick, following Carlos Correa and Mark Appel. But he was the only one of the three -- and only the third No. 1 overall pick ever -- to not sign with the team that drafted him. Aiken and the Astros had agreed to a $6.5 million signing bonus, but the team reduced the offer after a physical revealed he had inflammation in his throwing arm. Aiken opted to attend a preparatory school and reenter the draft the following year, which did not work in his favor. After his first start with IMG Preparatory Academy in Florida, he was pulled with elbow discomfort and had to undergo Tommy John Surgery. He was drafted by the Cleveland Indians 17th overall later that year and signed for only $2.5 million. He has yet to make a professional appearance.
13 Paul Wilson, P, New York Mets (1994)
When the New York Mets drafted Paul Wilson No. 1 overall in 1994, they did so with the hope that they could pair him with Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen to create a formidable trio at the top of their rotation. However, injuries and poor performance prevented that from happening. Wilson made his debut with the Mets in 1996, but struggled, posting a 5-12 record with a 5.38 ERA. After missing the next season with an injury, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He played six seasons combined with the Rays and Cincinnati Reds, but was never anything more than an innings eater. He finished his career with a 40-58 record in 4.86 ERA in 170 appearances (148 starts).
12 Tim Beckham, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (2008)
Still active, Tim Beckham has been a bust so far for the Tampa Bay Rays. Beckham rose slowly through the minor leagues, playing in only five major leagues in 2013 before reaching for good two years later. In his first two MLB seasons, Beckham posted a .229 batting average and .706 OPS in 231 plate appearances. He struck out 69 times, compared to only 13 walks. The 26-year-old has gotten off to a slow start in 2016, going 3-for-19 with one RBI through his first six games. There's still time for him to turn things around, but that time is running out.
11 Al Chambers, OF, Seattle Mariners (1979)
When the Seattle Mariners picked Al Chambers No. 1 overall, they envisioned the 6-foot-4, 215-pound outfielder as the next Jim Rice, as he possessed both above-average power and speed. He flashed that potential in the minors, batting .279 with 51 home runs during his first four professional seasons, but was unable to keep the momentum going once he reached the pros. He played 57 games in the MLB over the next three seasons, hitting only .208 with two home runs, 11 RBI and a 72 OPS+. He never again played in the majors, but did have stints in the the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox organizations, as well as in the Mexican League.
10 Mark Appel, P, Houston Astros (2013)
The Houston Astros decided to pick Mark Appel first overall in 2013 over third baseman Kris Bryant, a decision which they must sorely regret. Appel signed for a whopping $6.35 million bonus and responded with a miserable showing in his first three minor league seasons, in which he posted a 16-11 record and 5.62 ERA. After the 2015 season, the Astros decide to cut ties with Appel, trading him to the Philadelphia Phillies as part of a package for relief pitcher Ken Giles. In his first season in the Phillies' organization, he has a 3-0 record with a 1.62 ERA through three starts at Triple-A. While there's still time for him to make an impact, the 24-year-old has still yet to make his much-anticipated major league debut.
9 Danny Goodwin, C, Chicago White Sox (1971)
Danny Goodwin holds the distinction of being the only player in MLB history to be drafted No. 1 overall twice. While he enjoyed a semi-productive seven-year career, he's on this list because the White Sox failed to sign the prep catcher in an era where there was no compensation for failing to do so. Goodwin opted to attend Southern University and was eventually drafted No. 1 overall again in 1975 by the California Angels. He was still a bust despite playing parts of seven seasons with the California Angels, Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics, as he batted .236 for his career with 13 home runs, 81 RBI and a .674 OPS. He played three more seasons in the Oakland Athletics organization and one season in Japan before retiring in 1986.
8 Matt Anderson, P, Detroit Tigers (1997)
Matt Anderon rose fast through the minor leagues, reaching the majors for the Detroit Tigers the year after he was drafted. After four seasons in the bullpen, his career was derailed by an injury, which he allegedly suffered while participating in a Tigers-sponsored fan octopus-throwing contest to win playoff hockey tickets in 2002. He disputed the story, saying he tore the muscle in his throwing arm during a bullpen session, but was never the same, regardless. Anderson pitched one more year in Detroit and one year in Colorado in 2005, finishing his career with a 15-7 record, 26 saves and 5.19 ERA in 257 relief appearances. He was officially out of baseball in 2008.
7 Bryan Bullington, P, Pittsburgh Pirates (2002)
The Pittsburgh Pirates picked Bryan Bullington first overall ahead of seven future All-Stars, including Prince Fielder, Zack Greinke, Scott Kazmir and Cole Hamels. And that only includes players selected in the first round. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-handed pitcher only threw 81 2/3 innings from 2005-2010 with the Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals. He finished his career with a 1-9 record and a 5.62 ERA in 26 games (10 starts).
6 David Clyde, P, Texas Rangers (1973)
When the Texas Rangers picked left-handed pitcher David Clyde No. 1 overall, he was billed as a "can't-miss" prospect and drew comparisons from some scouts to Sandy Koufax. However, his lack of success could be blamed on then-Rangers owner Bob Short, who opted to rush him to the majors instead of letting him develop. He started two games in the MLB before pitching a minor league game, and was never able to shake control and injury problems. Over parts of five seasons with Rangers and Cleveland Indians, he went 18-33 with a 4.63 ERA in 84 games (73 starts) and had almost as many walks (180) as strikeouts (228). He retired in 1981 after two seasons in the Houston Astros organization.
5 Shawn Abner, OF, New York Mets (1984)
The New York Mets were eyeing Mark McGwire with the top overall pick, but opted for Shawn Abner after the power-hitting first baseman notified the organization that he would be a tough sign. A five-tool outfielder, Abner rose fast through the minor leagues and made his major league debut with the San Diego Padres at 21. While his bat never came around, he was able to play seven seasons because of his strong defense. He finished his career with a .227 average, 11 home runs, 71 RBI and .591 OPS in 392 games for the Padres, California Angels and Chicago White Sox. He returned to the Mets on a minor league deal in 1995, but retired after just 11 games.
4 Tim Belcher, P, Minnesota Twins (1983)
Tim Belcher is the only player on this list to have a pretty good career. Why, you might ask? Because he did so at the expense of the team that drafted him. After the Minnesota Twins selected Belcher No. 1 overall, he did not sign, and was picked by the Oakland Athletics in a supplemental draft. He went on to pitch 14 seasons in the major leagues for seven teams, winning 146 games as well as the 1988 World Series title with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 1,519 batters and walked only 860 in nearly 2,500 innings. After baseball, he was a pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Meanwhile, the Twins only reached the postseason twice from the year he was drafted (1983) to the year he played his final game (2000), winning the World Series both times.
3 Brien Taylor, P, New York Yankees (1991)
Of the 51 players drafted with the top overall pick, Brien Taylor is only one of two players to retire without making an MLB appearance. However, nobody could blame the New York Yankees for taking the prep left-hander, who was unanimously rated as the top prospect heading into the draft. He was later named the top prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America after the draft and posted a 2.57 ERA with 187 strikeout in 161 1/3 innings in his first professional season. However, the following the season, he tore a muscle in his pitching shoulder while defending his brother in a fight. He never was able to regain his effectiveness and never again made it past Single-A. He finished his seven-year minor-league career with a 22-30 record a 5.12 ERA in 100 games (82 starts).
2 Steve Chilcott, C, New York Mets (1966)
Like Brien Taylor, Steve Chilcott is only one of two players drafted first overall to retire without making an MLB appearance. Unlike Taylor, he was a mistake from the moment his name was announced. The New York Mets picked Chilcott over Reggie Jackson, a move which Mets executive Joe McDonald said at the time was because the team was drafting based on need, as opposed to talent. Chilcott signed with the Mets for $75,000, while Jackson, the second overall pick, signed with the Oakland Athletics for $85,000. Chilcott showed some promise, batting .265 with 17 home runs and 68 RBI as a 22-year-old in A-Ball. However, he struggled with injuries and inconsistency and was out of baseball by 24. Meanwhile, Jackson went on to have a Hall of Fame career.
1 Matt Bush, SS/P, San Diego Padres (2004)
Matt Bush has become more famous for what he's done off the field rather than on it. After he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2004, Bush has dealt with alcoholism and legal issues, which have derailed his baseball career. From 2004 to 2007, he struggled with the bat, posting a meager .219 batting average with three home runs and 70 RBI in 259 games. Off the field, he was arrested for fighting at a party, and was released by the Padres. He signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, who released him before he played a game because he violated their zero-tolerance alcohol policy. He then signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, who converted him to a relief pitcher, and had some moderate success, posting a 4.50 ERA in 64 innings. However, Bush was released and served time in prison after he struck and killed a pedestrian while under the influence of alcohol. He's currently in the midst of a comeback in the Texas Rangers' organization and has given up just two runs in 9 innings in Double-A with six strikeouts and three walks. However, it is more important to note that he's sober and is being watched carefully by both his family and organization.
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