5 Biggest Draft Busts in Tampa Bay Rays History
Five Biggest Rays Draft Busts
It hasn’t been a long history for the Tampa Bay Rays, but their existence in Major League Baseball has come with some success. After starting out slow as many expansion teams do, they really turned it around starting in the 2008 season. For the past five years, the Rays have made the playoffs three times, including a trip to the World Series in 2008.
The Rays compete with good pitching, excellent defense and most of all, homegrown talent. They do not spend a lot of money on free agents, and they really seem to have guys come up through the farm system and play hard for manager Joe Maddon.
One way that the Rays continue to bring in top talent is through the MLB Draft. Four of their top starters were all drafted by the organization: David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson and Alex Cobb. In fact, Price is the reigning Cy Young award winner and Moore is off to an 8-0 start this year. Two of the best hitters on the team, Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings, were also drafted by the team and brought up through the farm.
Those were the good ones, but it hasn’t always been good for the Rays. Not every draft choice pans out. For the purpose of this article, the “five biggest draft busts” will include those that may have gone on to successful careers for other teams, but were still a bust with the Rays.
5. Tim Beckham
After striking gold in ’06 with Longoria and ’07 with Price, the Rays were looking for a three-peat when they took Tim Beckham no. 1 overall in 2008. So far, Beckham has been nothing but mediocre at best. Over his past three seasons in Triple-A, he is hitting .265 with a total of 12 home runs and 13 stolen bases. It doesn’t help that Eric Hosmer went third and Buster Posey went fifth in that same draft.
4. Wade Townsend
Wade Townsend was selected eighth overall in the 2005 draft. The Rays thought they were building a solid rotation with him and Jeff Niemann taken in back-to-back years, both out of Rice University. Townsend never panned out and never made an appearance in the majors. He had a career minor league ERA of 5.68 and again, the list of All-Stars that were drafted after him does not help his case: Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce and Jacoby Ellsbury.
3. Rocco Baldelli
Rocco Baldelli was the first face of the franchise in Rays history when he was drafted no. 6 overall in the 2000 draft. He had a great first couple of years in the majors, even finishing third in rookie of the year voting in 2003. But injuries and a medical condition that caused severe muscle fatigue derailed his career and allowed him to appear in only 227 games from 2006-2010.
2. Dewon Brazelton
Dewon Brazelton was a big right-handed power pitcher taken no. 3 overall in the 2001 draft. He was expected to anchor the rotation for years to come. Needless to say, that did not pan out. He only made 54 appearances in his career with the Rays and finished 8-23 with a 5.98 ERA. He was out of the league by 2006.
1. Josh Hamilton
Josh Hamilton was that can’t-miss prospect that everyone dreamed of, and the Rays snagged him no. 1 overall in the 1999 draft. It took Hamilton six years to get to the majors because of drug and alcohol problems. He never did make it with the Rays, which makes it even more bittersweet to see him become a five-time All-Star and win an MVP with the Texas Rangers.