The MLB is one of the most storied leagues in all of sports. Since its inception in 1876, the Majors have entertained fans with some of the greatest players of all time. Franchises have drafted prospect with the idea of shaping one of the next greats in this historic sports, unfortunately, not every prospect turns into a baseball giant.
No matter if it’s a pitcher or hitter, some players didn’t pan out for America’s Past Time. It’s hard to narrow down due to history, but these are the 10 Biggest Busts in MLB History.
10. David Clyde – 1st Overall in 1973
David Clyde is on this list as someone who was a victim of circumstance. The Left Handed Pitcher was phenomenal in high school, posting an 18-0 record his senior year, including giving up a ridiculous 3 earned runs in 148 innings, earning comparisons to Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax. His amazing play convinced the Texas Rangers to take Clyde with the 1st overall pick.
Due to the Ranger’s poor attendance, ownership decided against sending Clyde to the Minor Leagues, and started him immediately. His inexperience showed as he had a whopping 5.01 ERA and finished 4-8. Clyde never found his rhythm before injuries forced his playing career short. Clyde makes this list as a reminder to develop players in the minors before bringing them up.
9. Steve Chilcott – 1st Overall in 1966
Steve Chilcott holds a very rare distinction as a player. The former Catcher had a good physical frame and powerful hitting that helped his stock going into the 1966 MLB Draft, and he showed every sign that a scout would love, including a good arm. As the New York Mets needed a Catcher at the time, he was drafted with the 1st overall pick.
Unfortunately, Chilcott is one of 3 #1 draft picks to never play in the MLB. As Chilcott began to showcase his ability in the minor leagues, a botched dive dislocated his arm. After this, multiple injuries plagued his career, ending his baseball dreams before eve setting foot on an MLB field. Injuries can happen to anyone, but this one stings for the Mets as all-time great Reggie Jackson was the next pick.
8. Brady Aiken – 1st Overall in 2014
Brady Aiken is another member of the infamous “#1 Picks Who Never Played in the Majors”, but this one stings particularly bad. The Left Handed Pitcher was a standout in high school, and helped lead the USA to a Gold Medal in the Under 18 World Cup. His ability as a pitcher was amazing enough for the Houston Astros to take Aiken #1 overall.
After initially agreeing to a $6.5 million guaranteed contract, the Astros lowered the offer after discovering inflammation in Aiken’s throwing arm. This lead to a massive dispute where Aiken never signed with the Astros. Aiken would be drafted again with the now Cleveland Guardians, but a Tommy John operation and bad play saw Cleveland letting him walk in 2021. At 26 Aiken is currently a free agent.
7. Matt Anderson – 1st Overall in 1997
Matt Anderson had a strange career. The Right Handed Pitcher had everything a team wants in a pitcher. Regularly throwing in the 100s, Anderson set university records for his play, even posting an elite 1.82 ERA. The Detroit Tigers saw this and took him with the #1 Pick, as most teams saw a future ace.
After an impressive rookie season, Anderson never reached his totals of 3.27 ERA and 5-1 record again, aside from a 22 save season in 2001. He would suffer a catastrophic injury after participating in an octopus throwing event, and his career suffered tremendously. Once one of the most promising pitchers in the Minors, poor play and an octopus proved his undoing.
6. Bryan Bullington – 1st Overall in 2002
Pitching is the most common position to bust in the MLB, and Bryan Bullington is another example. The former Ball State Standout was a Right Handed Pitcher who ranked among the best in high school and his college career, which saw him become an amazing starter and become a unanimous MAC Conference Pitcher of the Year, and would be drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates 1st overall.
Though he would show glimpses of his talent in the minors, a pitchers worst enemy, shoulder injuries, started plaguing Bullington. He would have numerous surgeries and injuries that kept him out of the lineup and when he did play in the Majors, went 1-9 in his career starts. Though he would have a successful post MLB career, Bullington’s injuries ruined a promising player.
5. Al Chambers – 1st Overall in 1979
It’s hard to say exactly why Al Chambers busted in the MLB. The former high school stand out was Designates Hitter/ Outfielder who was seen as one of the top developmental players going into the 1979 Draft. After being taken 1st overall by the Seattle Mariners, the team wouldn’t play Chambers until the 1983 season.
Whether it was his play or the Seattle team, its hard to say, as he hit 85 home runs in the minors, but his Major League career was subpar. Chambers would only hit 2 home runs in 57 career games with Seattle, and would fall out of the Majors after only 2 seasons. Regardless of why, Chambers is one of the biggest busts in MLB history.
4. Danny Goodwin – 1st overall in 1971… and 1975
Danny Goodwin is a rare case. The former Designated Hitter/ First Baseman was a high school standout who was selected by the Chicago White Sox in 1971, but elected not to sign with the team and go into college, where he was a 3 time All-American. His play was good enough form the then California Angels to select him #1 overall.
Unfortunately for Goodwin, his play never carried into the Majors, as he struggled at the bat and at catching. In 252 career games, he would hit only 13 home runs and score 81 RBIs for his career in 7 seasons. Despite his play, he would go on to be inducted in the NCAA Hall of Fame.
3. Matt Bush – 1st Overall in 2004
Matt Bush is a troubling case among the MLB busts. With time as both a Short Stop and a Right Handed Pitcher, Bush was considered one of the best five tool prospects in high school. This combined with other outside influences prompeted the San Diego Padres to select Bush #1 overall.
Early on, Bush struggled as a hitter in the Minors, before he was converted over to being a starting pitcher. From early on, injuries were a problem for the prospect, then behavioral and substance abuse issues became a factor, including a prison sentence following a drunk driving incident. Currently, Bush still has a role in the MLB, playing for a Minor League affiliate for the Texas Rangers.
2. Clint Hartung
Once called “the Second Coming of Babe Ruth”, Clint Hartung entered the MLB with lofty expectations. The late Outfielder/Pitcher was a monstrous man at 6’5” and 220 pounds who went 25-0 as a military starter and batted .567. After leaving the military, Hartung was signed by the New York Giants and was believed to be the next true great.
Over the course of his career, Hartung’s numbers were nowhere near what his potential was. With a career record of 29-29, and ERA of 5.02, and batting average of .238, he would only last 5 years in the MLB before going to the minor leagues for the rest of his career. Once one of the most foolproof prospects in baseball, Hartung remains one of the biggest busts in history.
1. Brien Taylor – 1st Overall in 1991
Brien Taylor is the final member of the “#1 Picks Who Never Played in the Majors”, and is especially rough. The former Left Handed Pitcher was an amazing high school talent holding a 29-6 record all while striking out 20133 hitters in 18 innings. His play was good enough for the storied New York Yankees to draft him #1 overall, being called the 2nd best prospect in baseball.
Taylor showed early that his game was legitimate, showing improvements in the Minors each season. Unfortunately, and injury suffered in a fight cost him his shoulder, which robbed much of his speed in his throw. After returning, he posted a ridiculous 18.73 ERA in 9 starts, and his career would never recover. From a promising Pitcher for one of the biggest teams in Baseball to never set foot on an MLB Diamond, Taylor holds the unfortunate title of biggest bust in MLB history.
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