5 Biggest Draft Busts in Minnesota Twins History
5 Biggest Draft Busts in Minnesota Twins History
With the 2013 MLB Draft a day away, it’s time to take a look back at all of the draft picks of year’s past. Littered throughout the history are draft picks that went on to become Major League starters, bench players, superstars and franchise cornerstones, but also littered throughout the history are players who never made it to the big-leagues, never made it above Class-A, were ineffective at every level or players whose careers were cut short due to injury. No matter how far back you look, you will have a mixed bag of results when focusing on any franchise. Unlike other professional sports like football and basketball where draftees make an immediate impact or are brought up to the top league immediately after being drafted, baseball players being drafted often take a more elongated path to the majors that can span anywhere from one to five or even seven years. It all depends on the player’s skill level, maturity, organizational situation and health; a little bit of luck and timing also plays a role in when a player is promoted. Thus, it takes a long time for a team to fully evaluate whether or not a player is a success after they draft them. In the case of the Minnesota Twins, you can look back throughout their history and you will see a draft history littered with good draft picks and bad ones as well. For this list, I have compiled what I believe to be the five biggest draft busts in Twins’ history. Typically, this distinction was reserved for players drafted in the first round and all players on my list are players who were drafted in the first round, but a case could be made for players drafted in the second or third round as well; however, the biggest busts, in my opinion, occurred all from the first round. Who are the five biggest busts in Twins’ history? Read on and find out and feel free to comment on players you believe qualify as biggest busts in Twins’ history that I may have omitted.
5. Bryan Oelkers
Oelkers was the Twins' first round draft pick—fourth overall—in the 1982 MLB Draft out of Wichita State. Oelkers was a left-handed pitcher and if you are drafted fourth overall in any draft, you are expected to become a major part of the future of any organization regardless of position. However, Oelkers never materialized into the type of prospect the Twins envisioned when they drafted him fourth overall. In his four year minor league career with the Twins, Oelkers went 26-27 with a 4.42 ERA spanning Single-A to Triple-A. Oelkers also made eight starts for the Twins in 1983 going 0-5 with a 8.65 ERA in 34.1 innings pitched. While those stats may not be all that bad to some people, for a player drafted fourth overall and a player taken ahead of players like Dwight Gooden and David Wells, they simply aren’t good enough and that is why Oelkers has landed on this list.
4. Travis Lee
Lee, an all-around talented first baseman from San Diego State was the Twins first round and second overall pick in the 1996 draft. Lee never lived up to the hype to justify being selected number two overall. The Twins were in the midst of a transition during the 1996 season as they were heading into an era full of losing and, for the first time in a long time, were experiencing playing without their former superstar Kirby Puckett. Lee was believed to be the next great player to fill in the star spot for the Twins, but it never worked out. In fact, Lee never even played a game with the Twins because the team never signed him to a contract which allowed Lee to become a free-agent without playing a single game in the Twins organization. Lee went on to put up career statistics of 115 HR and 488 RBI while batting .256 in 1,099 career games, but they never occurred in a Twins’ uniform and they never lived up to number two overall status.
3. B.J. Garbe
Signed to one of the largest signing bonuses in franchise history, big things were expected of Garbe after being selected with the fifth overall pick in the 1999 draft. Garbe was even named the Gatorade High School Player of the Year as a senior, but the young outfielder struggled to carve out much of a career for himself following his stellar senior year. Garbe ended up having career numbers of a .235 batting average with 37 HR and 298 RBI in 722 career games, all at the minor leagues. Garbe wound up being traded in 2004 to Seattle for catcher Pat Borders and retired after the 2006 season. Some career for a number five overall pick in 1999, the same year players like Barry Zito and Ben Sheets were drafted after Garbe. Although neither have had astounding careers, they both would have been better than what Garbe gave the Twins.
2. Eddie Bane
Bane was drafted 11th overall in the 1973 draft and was immediately called up the same year, which turned out to be a huge mistake and a huge bust for the Twins. Bane went on to put up a career 7-13 record in the majors over his three seasons with the Twins with a 4.66 ERA in 25 starts and he is often looked at as a player who was rushed to quickly to the majors, resulting in his struggles as a big-league pitcher. With the 11th overall selection, the Twins were hoping for an impact pitcher and they got nothing close to that with Bane. Part of the blame in this case could be sent to the Twins; but in the end, Bane never panned out and that is why he is on this list as one of the biggest busts in Twins’ history.
1. Adam Johnson
You can give Johnson credit for actually making it to the majors and making a few starts; but at the end of the day, Johnson ranks among the biggest busts in Twins' history after being drafted second overall in 2000. Johnson appeared in nine games at the majors and accumulated a 1-3 record with an ERA of 10.25. It was rumored that the Twins drafted Johnson partly because he would be less expensive to sign; but in doing so, they passed on players such as Chase Utley and Adam Wainwright both of whom could have made a significant impact with the Twins. At one point, Johnson was rated the No. 41 prospect by Baseball America; however, he struggled in the upper levels of the minors and at the majors and the Twins eventually were forced to part ways with the right-hander after the 2004 season. To this date, Johnson remains the biggest bust in Twins' history.