Every fan knows that the annual MLB Draft can be an absolute crapshoot. It can be surprising when a first round produces a surfeit of big-league talent. Of the top 30 picks in the 2003 MLB Draft, 21 reached the majors, and 17 are still active big leaguers. Add four supplemental first-round picks still receiving checks for playing ball, along with late-round gems like Ian Kinsler and Jonny Venters, and you have one pretty productive draft.
1. Devil Rays: Delmon Young, OF
Adolfo Camarillo (Calif.) HS
’06-07, Devil Rays; ’08-11, Twins; ’11-12 Tigers
The Rays drafted the 6'3" outfielder expecting to get a power surge, but none of the three teams for whom the now-240-pounder has played has benefitted from consistent long-ball production. While Young’s career .284 batting average demonstrates his ability to hit, he has topped the 20-homer mark only one time, and that came in 2010, when he hit 21 dingers, knocked in 112 runs and batted .298 for the Twins, easily his best year in the majors. Young has demonstrated some behavioral issues during his career, but the 2012 postseason (.313, three HRs) showed Young’s potential.
2. Brewers: Rickie Weeks, 2B
Weeks has been a fixture at second base for the Brewers since 2005, and though his fielding has been shaky throughout his career, Milwaukee has stuck with him, showing its faith in Weeks by signing him to a four-year, $38.5 million deal prior to the 2011 season. Weeks was voted as a starter for the 2011 All-Star Game, a nod to his solid offensive production.
3. Tigers: Kyle Sleeth, RHP
After a glittering collegiate career that included a 14–0 campaign in 2002, Sleeth had his career derailed by Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss the 2005 season and part of ’06. A dominating righthander in college, Sleeth never progressed beyond Double-A ball, although he did earn a spot on the Tigers’ 40-man roster at one point. He retired in March 2008.
4. Padres: Tim Stauffer, RHP
Although Stauffer spent parts of several seasons with the Padres, he was a full-time performer for only two seasons, 2010 and ’11. He split his time between the bullpen and the starting rotation and enjoyed his greatest success in 2011, when he was the Padres’ Opening Day starter. Elbow troubles in 2012 limited him to one start and forced him to undergo surgery in August. He elected to become a free agent after the 2012 campaign.
5. Royals: Chris Lubanski, OF
Kennedy-Kenrick (Pa.) HS
A power-hitting outfielder with good speed, Lubanski kicked around the Royals’ farm system for seven seasons before bouncing through the Blue Jays, Marlins and Phillies organizations and spending some time playing for Chico of the California League. Lubanski hit 28 homers in High-A ball in 2005 and swatted 17 for Las Vegas in Triple-A in 2010 but could never deliver consistently at the higher minors levels to warrant a call to the bigs.
6. Cubs: Ryan Harvey, OF
Dunedin (Fla.) HS
Possessing raw power and a big enough arm to make the Cubs toy with the idea of using him as a pitcher when his position-playing fortunes began to flag, Harvey never progressed beyond Double-A ball. Although he hit 24 homers and knocked in 100 for Class A Peoria in 2005 and slugged 20 dingers the next year for Daytona, another Class A outpost, he never hit for average and struck out too often. He played for Lancaster in the Independent ranks in 2012.
7. Orioles: Nick Markakis, OF
Young Harris College
A strong hitter with plus power, good speed and a big arm, Markakis is a fixture in the Orioles lineup, and until 2012, was an extremely durable player. Markakis has topped 100 RBIs twice and hit more than 40 doubles in a season four times. In January ’09, the Orioles signed him to a six-year extension that will keep him as a cornerstone of their improving squad through 2014.
8. Pirates: Paul Maholm, LHP
’05-11 Pirates; ’12 Cubs/Braves
When Maholm debuted with eight shutout innings in a win over the Brewers in 2005, many thought the lefty was destined for big things. Though he has pitched for eight big-league seasons, he never developed into a top-of-the-rotation starter. Maholm was traded from Chicago to Atlanta last July and finished the season with a 13–11 mark and a 3.67 ERA with a career-high 140 strikeouts.
9. Rangers: John Danks LHP
Round Rock (Texas) HS
‘07-12 White Sox
The former Texas prep Player of the Year was traded by Texas to the ChiSox in 2006 and has become a stalwart in the rotation. The hard thrower with a nasty cutter had his best statistical season in 2010, when he went 15–11 with a 3.72 ERA and 162 strikeouts. Danks made only nine starts in 2012, as shoulder problems forced him first to the disabled list and later to the operating table in August.
10. Rockies: Ian Stewart, 3B
LaQuinta (Calif.) HS
’07-11 Rockies; ’12 Cubs
If he manages to stay healthy, Stewart could be an extremely valuable part of the Cubs organization. When he played 147 games for Colorado in 2009, Stewart hit 25 homers and knocked in 70 runs. But he has struggled with wrist issues for almost two seasons, and in June 2012 he underwent surgery that limited him to 55 games.
11. Indians: Michael Aubrey, 1B
’08 Indians; ’09 Orioles
A talented hitter who showed power and the ability to hit for average, as well as a solid pitching arm while in high school and college, Aubrey played parts of two seasons with a pair of MLB teams and totaled only 46 games of action. The trouble wasn’t his bat; it was his ability to stay healthy. Aubrey spent 2011 with Syracuse in the Washington organization but was out of baseball in ’12.
12. Mets: Lastings Milledge, OF
Lakewood Ranch (Fla.) HS
’06-07 Mets; ’08-09 Nationals; ’09-10 Pirates; ’11 White Sox
Off-field issues have dogged Milledge from his high school days through his professional career, during which he failed to establish himself as an everyday player. Milledge struggled with poor work ethic and a shaky attitude during two seasons with the Mets, but he appeared to turn things around in 2009 with the Nationals and hit .268 with 14 HRs in 138 games. Milledge bounced to a pair of other teams, was sent to the minors in ’11 by the White Sox and ended up playing the 2012 season in Japan.
13. Blue Jays: Aaron Hill, SS
’05-11 Blue Jays; ’11-12 Diamondbacks
In 2009, Hill hit 36 homers and knocked in 108 runs to earn the Comeback Player of the Year award with Toronto after he missed most of ’08 with concussion symptoms. The next year, he had 26 dingers and 68 RBIs. But the Blue Jays traded Hill to Arizona in August 2011 due to his struggles at the plate. Hill rebounded with a solid 2012 for the Diamondbacks, hitting .302 with 26 homers and 85 RBIs.
14. Reds: Ryan Wagner, RHP
’03-05 Reds; ’06-07 Nationals
Before Wagner tore his labrum in 2007, many expected him to become a significant contributor to the Nationals’ bullpen, since he had posted a 3.54 ERA in his final 24 games of the ’06 season. But the one-time Houston Cougar was unable to come back from surgery to repair the shoulder, and he retired in May 2009.
15. White Sox: Brian Anderson, OF
’05-09 White Sox; ’09 Red Sox
After spending five years in the majors trying to develop into a consistent, productive hitter, Anderson decided to become a pitcher. He bounced around four different organizations, trying to gain a hold as a reliever, and he actually looked pretty good for a while as part of the Yankees system, but he was released. In April 2012 the Rockies let him go, and Anderson was unable to hook on with another club.
16. Marlins: Jeff Allison, RHP
Veterans Memorial (Mass.) HS
After a remarkable prep career that included Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year award, Allison struggled to hold a position in the Marlins’ organization due to substance abuse issues. He reached as high as Double-A Jacksonville, where he posted a 9–11 record in two seasons (2010-11) as a starter. He retired from baseball in ’12, citing elbow problems.
17. Red Sox: David Murphy, OF
’06-07 Red Sox; ’07-12 Rangers
Murphy never got the chance to see much time while with the Red Sox, but he has blossomed into a productive corner outfielder during his tenure with the Rangers, displaying the ability to hit for average and just enough power. The big lefty’s best season may well have been 2012, when he played a career-high 147 games and hit .304 with 15 homers, 61 RBIs and a career-best 29 doubles.
18. Indians (via Phillies): Brad Snyder, OF
A first-team All-American at Ball State, Snyder hit for power and average as a college player but has appeared in only 20 big-league games. The Cubs claimed him off waivers in late 2009 and sent him to Triple-A Iowa City. Snyder enjoyed a strong year — hitting .308 with 25 HRs and 106 RBIs — and was a late-season call-up, playing in 12 games, hitting .185 in 27 at-bats. He saw action in eight contests in 2011 but spent the ’12 season in the Astros farm system. He signed a minor league deal with Arizona after the 2012 season.
19. Diamondbacks: Conor Jackson, 1B
’05-10, Diamondbacks; ’10-11, Athletics; ’11 Red Sox
Jackson moved quickly through the Arizona minor league ranks and made his debut in ’05. The next three seasons were prosperous, as he hit for average (.300 in ’08) although not for power. But Jackson contracted Valley Fever in 2009 and played only 30 games that year. The D-backs shipped him to Oakland the following season, and though Jackson played 102 games for the A’s in 2011, they traded him to Boston later that year. He spent 2012 in the White Sox’ minor league system.
20. Expos: Chad Cordero, RHP
Cal State Fullerton
’03-08 Expos/Nationals; ’10 Mariners
For three years, Cordero was one of the top closers in the game, but he never recovered from a torn labrum and retired from baseball in 2011. Cordero was a top reliever in college and made his MLB debut the same year he was drafted. He appeared in 69 games for the Expos in 2004, mostly as a set-up man, although he did register 14 saves. In ’05, he was statistically the best closer in baseball — leading all relievers with 47 saves.
21. Twins: Matt Moses, 3B
Mills Goodwin (Va.) HS
Minnesota thought it had a fixture in the hot corner when it drafted Moses, but he never developed into a consistent hitter at the minor league level and couldn’t reach the majors. Moses played seven years and hit .249 with 47 homers and 310 RBIs but spent only 48 games beyond the Double-A level (in 2007) and retired from baseball after the ’09 campaign.
22. Giants (via Astros): David Aardsma, RHP
’04 Giants; ’06 Cubs; ’07 White Sox; ’08 Red Sox; ’09-10 Mariners; ’12 Yankees
Although Aardsma has bounced around six different organizations, he has had some success as a reliever at the big-league level. His best seasons came with Seattle, where he saved 38 games in 2009 and 31 the next year. His progress was short-circuited by a blown elbow tendon that forced him to miss all of 2011 and ’12. Aardsma pitched one game for the Yankees in 2012 and will return to the team in ’13 on an incentive-laden contract.
23. Angels: Brandon Wood, SS
Horizon (Ariz.) HS
’07-11 Angels; ’11 Pirates
Wood has struggled to turn his minor league power (144 HRs from 2005-09) into major league production. His top batting average with the Angels came in 2008, when he hit a mere .200 in 150 at-bats. Now attempting to make it as a utility infielder, Wood signed a minor league deal with Kansas City this past offseason.
24. Dodgers: Chad Billingsley, RHP
Defiance (Ohio) HS
Billingsley has been a stalwart in the Dodgers’ rotation for nearly seven years. His finest statistical season came in 2008, when he was 16–10 with a 3.14 ERA and 201 strikeouts. He was shut down in September 2012 with elbow problems that some feared might force him to undergo Tommy John surgery, but Billingsley rehabbed and is expected to pitch in ’13.
25. Athletics: Brad Sullivan, RHP
In college, Sullivan was an overpowering pitcher who set the University of Houston record for strikeouts in a season. But he couldn’t gain any momentum in the professional ranks and never climbed above Class A ball for the A’s. He was out of baseball following the 2007 campaign.
26. Athletics (via Giants): Brian Snyder, 3B
In 2004, Snyder gave the A’s a glimpse of his considerable potential, hitting .311 with 13 HRs and 61 RBIs in Class A ball. But he suffered a serious groin and hip injury during spring training the following year and missed all of 2005. He recovered to play three more seasons (2006-08) in the A’s and Padres systems but never displayed the same kind of hitting ability and couldn’t climb out of the Double-A ranks.
27. Yankees: Eric Duncan, 3B
Seton Hall (N.J.) Prep
Duncan made an immediate impression on the Yankees organization in 2003, hitting well at two Class A stops. Although he climbed through the club’s minor league system to reach Triple-A ball, Duncan struggled to make the switch from third base to first and never established himself as a consistent hitter. He lasted in the Yanks system until after the ’09 campaign, when he was released. He spent time in the Braves, Reds, Cardinals and Royals systems before retiring in 2012.
28. Cardinals: Daric Barton, C
Marina (Calif.) HS
Barton was off to a strong start with the Cards but was part of the ’04 deal that sent Dan Haren to Oakland and Mark Mulder to St. Louis. An extremely patient hitter who led the AL in walks (110) in 2010, Barton was Oakland’s regular first baseman in ’08 and ’10 but has spent the last two seasons bouncing between the majors and Triple-A ball while struggling to find his hitting stroke.
29. Diamondbacks: Carlos Quentin, OF
’06-07 Diamondbacks; ’08-11 White Sox; ’12 Padres
Although Quentin has struggled to overcome injuries throughout his career, he has proven himself to be a quality power producer. That much was evident in 2008, when he hit 36 homers and knocked in 100 runs for the White Sox. A two-time All-Star, Quentin slugged 26 homers with the Sox in 2010 and 24 in ’11. Before the 2012 season, he was traded to the Padres.
30. Royals (via Braves): Mitch Maier, C
Maier began life in the Royals system as a catcher but was soon switched to third base and eventually the outfield. He made his debut in 2006, playing in five games for the big club. Maier’s best years with Kansas City were 2009 (.243) and ’10 (.263). He was not a regular in ’11, and after a shaky first half of 2012, he was designated for assignment. In November, he signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox.
31. Indians: Adam Miller, RHP
McKinney (Texas) HS
A hard thrower, Miller has been unable to gain momentum due to multiple injuries to his right arm and hand, and has never reached the majors.
32. Red Sox: Matt Murton, OF Georgia Tech
’05-08 Cubs; ’08 Athletics; ’09 Rockies
A journeyman who showed hitting prowess early but fizzled, Murton is now a star in the Japanese league and broke Ichiro’s single-season record for hits in 2010.
33. Athletics: Omar Quintanilla, SS Texas
’05-09 Rockies; ’11 Rangers; ’12 Mets/Orioles
A backup infielder, Quintanilla has bounced from team-to-team and between the big leagues and minors. In 2010, he was suspended 50 games for PED use.
34. Giants: Craig Whitaker, RHP
Lufkin ( Texas) HS
The one-time starter has played throughout the Giants farm system, as he tries to develop into a reliable reliever and escape the Triple-A ranks.
35. Braves: Luis Atilano, RHP
Gabriela Mistral (P.R.) HS
Atilano has battled injuries and inconsistency, but he did start 16 games for the Nationals in 2010, posting a 6–7 record with a 5.15 ERA. He spent last season in the Reds organization.
36. Braves: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Royal Palm Beach (Fla.) HS
’07 Braves; ’07-10 Rangers; ’10-12 Red Sox
The man with the longest last name in MLB history was a big part of the Mark Teixeira trade that also sent Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz from Atlanta to Texas. Salty did hit 25 HRs for Boston in 2012.
37. Mariners: Adam Jones, SS Morse (Calif.) HS
’06-07 Mariners; ’08-12 Orioles
A two-time All-Star, Jones had his finest year in 2012, hitting .287 with 32 HRs and 82 RBIs, a performance that earned him a six-year contract extension for $85.5 million.
—By Michael Bradley
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