Every year there are MLB draftees who waiver on the fence about going to school and turning down gobs of cash. Some never go to college and take the Independent League trails, some continue getting drafted without ever signing, hoping to make a huge payday. Some sign and suck…forever…then they go deliver pizza or become stockers at your local grocer. These guys are the worst of the worst from the 2001-2006 MLB Draft, leaving a few years to those drafted later to work off the label still. This is in honor of those large bonuses that we’ll be reading about all night as the August 15th, midnight deadline approaches.
2001: Dewon Brazelton, RHP, Tampa Rays: #3 Overall, $4.2 million signing bonus- He was done at the age of 26, making 63 appearances (43 starts) and posting an 8-25 record and 6.38 ERA at the Major League level.
2002: Chris Gruler, RHP, Cincinnati Reds: #3 Overall, $2.5 million signing bonus – Done at the age of 22, never reaching above Low-A Dayton for the Reds, Gruler made 27 appearances (25 starts) before tearing up his shoulder and leaving town for good.
2003: Kyle Sleeth, RHP, Detroit Tigers: #3 Overall, $3.35 million signing bonus – Sleeth got to Double-A for the Tigers, but had to call it quits in 2007 after ripping up his shoulder, too. He made 62 appearances (50 starts) going 12-21 with a 6.30 ERA. Yuck.
2004: Matthew Bush, SS/LHP, San Diego Padres: #1 Overall, $3.15 million signing bonus – After fights and poor hitting (.219/.294/.276 over 5 seasons), Bush moved to the mound and he is now a decent, older prospect at 25. He is now at Double-A and is a relief pitcher for the Rays, where he has struck out 68 in 43 2/3 IP while posting an ugly 5.36 ERA. He has some stuff, though, so we’ll see…but the Padres could have drafted a guy named Verlander instead.
2004: Mark Rogers, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers: #5 Overall, $3.6 million signing bonus – Rogers posted a 1.80 ERA and an 11/3 K/BB over 10 innings over four appearances (2 starts) in 2010, BUT…it’s been more of the same this season. Shoulder woes. Rogers is just 25 but he missed all of 2007 and 2008 with shoulder and arm issues, and he is toiling in the Minors this season working on his arm strength, struggling to an 0-5 record, 9.34 ERA and 40/42 K/BB over 44 1/3 IP in 15 games (13 starts).
2005: Jeff Clement, C/1B, Seattle Mariners: #3 Overall, $3.4 million signing bonus – Clement turns 28 on August 21st and he doesn’t seem to have a long-term role in Pittsburgh after being traded away from Seattle. It never seemed realistic for Clement to become a studly offensive catcher, but he still be productive enough to be a 1B/DH now. In what is his 6th season in Triple-A, Clement has just 68 homers and 282 RBI over 410 games and 1540 at bats, good for a 162 game average of 26 homers and 111 RBI, he just needs to stay healthy, which he hasn’t been able to do. His .223/.281/.383 line leaves a lot to be desired in the Bigs, too.
2006: Luke Hochevar, RHP, Kansas City Royals: #1 Overall – He didn’t throw a pitch in college or the Minors after being the 40th selection in the 2005 draft by the Dodgers, then he becomes the #1 overall pick by the Royals the following season. The fact that Longoria, Lincecum, Kershaw, Scherzer, and Morrow all got drafted after him is mind boggling. The Royals of the 2000’s at their finest. 27-41 with a 5.39 ERA after 93 appearances (90 starts) in the Majors. He’ll be 28 in mid-September. HocheBARF.