The 2014 MLB draft saw one of the memorable draft incidents occur in recent memory. The Houston Astros went into the draft coming of a 70-92 season, a 19-win improvement on the year before, with the No. 1 pick
With their No. 1 pick the Texan outfit opted for 17-year-old Brady Aiken out of San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic High. In theory, signing the high school left-arm pitcher made sense. The Astros hierarchy likened the 17-year-old to legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, believing that he was the perfect man to centre the rebuilding of Houston on.
However, after using their No. 1 pick things started to unravel quickly…. really quickly. Aiken was given a routine medical, and from there the deal went dead in the water. Sports Illustrated speculate that the MRI scan may have shown something about the longevity and durability of Aiken’s elbow, which may have caused the Astros to renegade, who, will get the No.2 pick in the 2015 draft for not signing Aiken.
All we know so far is that of speculation. Aiken, to his credit, has handled the situation valiantly; the polar opposite to the Astros, whose actions in this draft have angered both their own fans and other MLB fans. It is now increasingly likely that Aiken is to become the third No. 1 pick to not sign with a team, after Tim Belcher became the first person to do so, when he refused to join the Minnesota Twins in 1983.
The Astros have been the worse side in the MLB for the past three seasons. They say they have had enough of being the league’s permanent laughing stock, but this incident has only dug them a further hole in the ground.
Houston want to rebuild by taking away, not adding – that logic is going to prolong your stay in the mire. At the other end of the spectrum you currently have the World Series between Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants.
Houston would no doubt love to be in the running, but they aren’t and likely won’t be for some time. The reason: the Astros are useless and, right now are contributing significantly to their own downfall.
Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Stadium by clockwerks
Enough of bashing the Astros. Their dealings in the draft were disastrous but they are not alone in that regard. Who can the Astros take solace from for woeful draft dealings?
Matt Anderson – No. 1 of the 1997 draft by the Detroit Tigers
Entering the draft in 1997 Matt Anderson looked a prospect. At Rice University he was a Southwest Conference all-star, a Western Athletic all-star and a First-Team College All-American. He left Rice with the school record for wins with 30; he also posted a 1.82 earned run average (ERA) in his final year.
Even now Anderson’s rap sheet looks impressive, making it all the more of a shame that he failed to make it big time. Over his career he owned a 15-7 winning record but, he played just seven seasons in the MLB. All-in-all, he made just 257 top-flight appearances.
An injury in 2002 – he tore a muscle in the armpit of his throwing arm – was the catalyst in the change of Anderson’s fortune. Before the injury the speed gun would clock his fastball at over 100 mph, on his return from injury he was unable to make just 90 mph.
With the power of hindsight we can say that, unfortunately, Anderson was a poor draft choice; even poorer when you look at the talent passed up: J.D. Drew, Troy Glaus, Vernon Wells, Michael Cuddyer, Jon Garland, Lance Berkman and Jayson Werth, all of which went on to be All-Stars.
Bryan Bullington – No. 1 pick of the 2002 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates
When deciding what to do with the first pick of the draft you would expect rationale and logic to take precedence. This was not the case with the Pirates in 2002. To this day it has not been confirmed, but what many people believe is that the Pirates went for Bullington as they did not think that they would be able to sign any of the other projected top-draft players.
Despite being a somewhat ‘safe’ selection, Bullington was not supposed to be as awful as he was. He managed just five seasons in the MLB – only two of which were with Pittsburgh. In his 26 games he posed a 1-9 record, while he is in possession of a huge 5.62 ERA and 1.580 WHIP.
After further forgettable stints with the Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals and the Cleveland Indians Bullington headed to Japan. He currently plays for Hiroshima Toyo Carp where he is enjoying some success for the first time in his career.
Could the Pirates have signed anyone better in that draft? B.J. Upton, Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels and Matt Cain were entered in the draft; surely one of these eight would have signed a contract with the Penguins?
Danny Goodwin – No. 1 pick of the 1975 draft by the California Angels
Much like Aiken, Goodwin was selected at No. 1 but eventually did not end up signing. The year was 1971 and the Chicago White Sox had drafted the high-schooler with the first overall pick in 1971. Goodwin opted out of the deal, opting for college. Four years later he was chosen first by the California Angels, much to the chagrin of the White Sox, who were still yet to realise how fortuitous they had been.
When your side have signed the only player in the history of the sport to be picked at No. 1 twice, your hopes are justly high. Sadly Goodwin was a damp squib. He lasted seven years in the majors, amassing a .236 average and a career .674 OPS. That’s shambolic for a designated hitter.
Goodwin will always be in the history books. He will be infamous for being the worst player to ever have been picked as No. 1 twice. In 1971 Hall of Fame outfielder Jim Rice was selected after him, while Andre Dawson, another Hall of Fame outfielder, was taken after the “mercurial” Goodwin in 1975.
Matt Bush – No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft by the San Diego Padres
Without question the worst ever draft pick. The shortstop, who could also pitch at 94 mph, was signed out of California. The reasoning being that he was a local boy, and therefore would give the Padres a hometown discount.
Bush never actually appeared in the majors, he only appeared in Class AA, two rungs beneath the MLB. His time in the minors saw him achieve a .219 average. A career that was blighted by legal and personal problems, Bush really was a catastrophe. At the age of 28, Bush should be in the prime of his career, instead he is inside Mayo Correctional Institute in Mayo, Florida, serving a 51 month sentence for a driving related offence.
In recent years it has transpired that Bush was not the Padres first choice, they wanted Stephen Drew or Jared Walker, who signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim respectively. Both, however, were represented by Scott Boras, an agent noted for procuring hefty bonuses, something that owner John Moores was uncomfortable with. The bonuses that either of these players would have achieved would have been more economically viable than Bush.
So instead of Drew or Walker, as well as Justin Verlander, who went to the Detroit Tigers at No. 2, they opted for Bush. What a monumental cock up that was.
These are just four of many terrible draft decisions. Will the Astros choice of not signing Aiken see them included in lists in the near future, or can they save face and get it right with their No. 2 pick in 2015?