The first pick in the 1987 draft, Ken Griffey Jr. went on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career and cemented his legacy as one of the best to ever play
The 2020 MLB draft on June 10 will be much different in the fact that it will have five rounds instead of 40 and will be held with the uncertainty of whether or not the season will be played. However, it is very similar in the fact where we will not see the selections take the field for a while unless they are on our local minor league team.
Even if Spencer Torkelson, the Arizona State outfielder who is projected to be the first player taken Wednesday night, has a Hall of Fame career, it will be at least a year or two before most baseball fans see him in action because of his requisite time in the minor leagues. By the time they make it to The Show, many fans have forgotten there were the No. 1 overall pick.
There are players though whose names are synonymous with great careers, such that when you also read that they were the top pick in the draft, you just nod your head and say, “Well, that makes sense.” Here are the five best.
(Note: This list only includes retired players.)
5. Joe Mauer, C, Cretin-Derham Hall High School (Saint Paul, Minn.)
2001 Draft – Minnesota Twins
Mauer played his entire career with his hometown Twins and won three American League batting titles. To give you a little perspective on that, no other American League catcher has ever won one batting title... period. His .365 batting average in 2009 is the highest single-season mark for any catcher in MLB history. Mauer also won three straight Golden Gloves and finished his career with a .996 fielding average.
4. Harold Baines, OF, St. Michael’s High School (St. Michael’s, Md.)
1977 Draft – Chicago White Sox
Baines made his major league debut on Opening Day in 1980 and played for five different teams in a 22-season Hall of Fame career that included three different stints with the White Sox. After a knee injury effectively ended his fielding career in the late 1980s, he found a second life as a designated hitter.
3. Chipper Jones, SS, Bolles High School (Jacksonville, Fla.)
1990 Draft – Atlanta Braves
The Braves snagged Jones the year before their run of 14 straight division titles. For his first full season Atlanta in 1995, the Braves moved him to third base and he had an amazing rookie season as Atlanta won its only World Series. His play that year was only a sign of things to come. Jones finished with a .303 batting average, 468 home runs and 1,623 RBIs, making him one of the best switch-hitters in the history of the game. In 2018, he became the second No. 1 overall pick to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
2. Alex Rodriguez, SS, Westminster Christian High School (Palmetto Bay, Fla.)
1993 Draft – Seattle Mariners
Even with his suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), A-Rod’s career is one of the best ever. He finished with 3,115 hits, 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs. He also holds the record for most career grand slams with 25 and helped lead the Yankees to a World Series title in 2009. However, he’s second on this list because of his connection with PEDs.
1. Ken Griffey, Jr., OF, Moeller High School (Cincinnati)
1987 Draft – Seattle Mariners
The only player on this list who is currently in the Hall of Fame was the most electrifying player of the 1990s and his 630 home runs are sixth in baseball history. Junior also was a 10-time Gold Glove recipient. If injuries had not derailed his career in the 2000s, there is no telling what else he would have accomplished.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.