With his decision to take an "indefinite break" from the game, right-hander Mark Appel, who was the top pick in the 2013 Draft, became just the third No. 1 overall never to reach the Major Leagues.There are only 15 players drafted in the top three overall spots whose careers ended
With his decision to take an "indefinite break" from the game, right-hander Mark Appel, who was the top pick in the 2013 Draft, became just the third No. 1 overall never to reach the Major Leagues.
There are only 15 players drafted in the top three overall spots whose careers ended before they got to don a Major League uniform, including four No. 2 picks and eight No. 3 picks.
While some more recent Top 3 picks are still finding their way to the bigs, the unfortunate 15 who came up short of becoming big leaguers before hanging up their spikes are as follows:
1. 2013, RHP Mark Appel, HOU Taken with the No. 8 pick by the Pirates in 2012, Appel went back to Stanford for his senior season and parlayed that into being the No. 1 pick by his hometown Houston Astros. Thought to be a low-risk college starter who would ascend quickly through the Minors, Appel struggled out of the gate in the California League, then dealt with injuries that kept him from ever reaching the highest level.
1. 1991, LHP Brien Taylor, NYY
He was 6-foot-3 with a rocket arm and seemed to be a can't-miss star. The Yankees paid him a record $1.55 million signing bonus hoping for big things, and he appeared well on his way until he seriously injured his throwing shoulder in a bar fight in 1993. Taylor missed the entire '94 season, and it went sour for him quickly upon his return in '95, as he never pitched beyond Double-A ball before retiring for good in 2000. Taylor wound up being imprisoned on a federal drug charge, and he was released in '14.
1. 1966, C Steve Chilcott, NYM
Before Appel and Taylor, Chilcott was the first No. 1 pick to fall short of the Majors. Picked by the Mets out of Antelope Valley (CA) High School, a shoulder injury suffered in Chilcott's second season at Class A wound up derailing his career. The No. 2 pick in that 1966 draft? Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.
2. 1987, OF/1B Mark Merchant, PIT
The No. 1 pick that year is also in the Hall of Fame -- Ken Griffey Jr. Merchant was the No. 2 pick, and he toiled in the Minors for the better part of a decade, including the final three at Triple-A, before hanging them up in 1997.
2. 1982, SS Augie Schmidt, TOR
The Majors' loss has been Carthage College's gain. Schmidt worked his way up the ladder to Triple-A before injuries and talent like Alfredo Griffin and Tony Fernandez in front of Schmidt left him short of the goal. He retired in 1986 after playing for his hometown Class A team in Kenosha, Wis. He has been the head baseball coach for Carthage College there since '88.
2. 1980, SS Garry Harris, TOR
Another draftee at shortstop who didn't pan out for the Blue Jays, Harris was drafted one spot after Darryl Strawberry in 1980 and had topped out at Double-A by '83 -- his final year of pro ball.
2. 1975, LHP Mike Lentz, SD
The 1975 Draft was topped by the only player to be drafted No. 1 overall twice -- Danny Goodwin -- and then Lentz led a run of picks Nos. 2-5 who all fell short of the Majors. Lentz topped out at Double-A, and after shoulder and knee injuries, he wound up finished with baseball in '79.
3. 2009, OF, Donavan Tate, SD
The Padres gave Tate $6.25 million to sign him away from playing both football and baseball at the University of North Carolina. Injuries and drug suspensions, not to mention an inability to make adjustments at the plate, derailed his career. He last played in 2016 and tried to return to football in '17 at the University of Arizona, but he left the school in December to move closer to home.
3. 2003, Kyle Sleeth, DET
Sleeth had a great amateur resume coming out of Wake Forest University and was off to a good start to his career, making it up to Double-A and playing in the 2004 All-Star Futures Game. But then Tommy John surgery derailed him, and Sleeth called it quits at the end of Spring Training in '08.
3. 2002, RHP Chris Gruler, CIN
A big right-hander who signed out of high school, Gruler ran into shoulder problems and was released by '06 after reaching Class A ball. Other starters drafted in the first round that year included Zack Greinke, Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels and Player Page for Matt Cain.
3. 1992, LHP B.J. Wallace, MON
After a stellar career at Mississippi State, Wallace was drafted by the Expos, only to top out at Double-A in 1994 after shoulder surgery knocked him off course.
3. 1979, C Jay Schroeder, TOR
Yes, that Jay Schroeder. He played in the Blue Jays' system while going to UCLA, and he left baseball behind for a career as a quarterback in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl ring as backup QB for the Redskins in January 1988.
3. 1975, Les Filkins, DET
After making his way up the ladder to Triple-A and going to Spring Training with the Major League club, Filkins was blocked by talented outfielders in Detroit, including Kirk Gibson. Filkins wound up taking a deal to play in Japan in 1983, his final year in pro ball.
3. 1969, 3B Ted Nicholson, CWS
Nicholson was a high-school third baseman out of Mississippi, and he had made it to Class A in two years. But he missed two seasons due to military service, and he was done after trying to come back in '73.
3. 1968, C Martin Cott, HOU
Cott went 0-for-4 at Triple-A, but he otherwise played only at Class A and was done after 1970. Cott was picked one spot ahead of Thurman Munson, the catcher who went on to become a Yankees icon.