2001 MLB Draft, Revisited: Misses All Over the First Round

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The MLB Draft is always an exciting time of the year. Dreams become reality for many young men as they begin their professional baseball careers. Looking back at the 2001 MLB Draft, the field was littered with talent. 20 years later though, many ball clubs look like they made the wrong decisions.

2001 MLB Draft: Re-Doing the First 30 Picks

1. MIN: Real Pick: Joe Mauer, C, Cretin HS (St. Paul, MN) –– New Pick: Mauer

Unlike the previous re-drafts I’ve done, the first overall pick goes unchanged. Mauer was easily the best prospect heading into the draft and his hometown Minnesota Twins selected him with the first pick. Mauer would go on to spend his entire career in Minnesota, becoming the face of the Twins franchise.

Mauer was a six-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger, three-time Gold Glover, and three-time batting champion. He remains the only catcher in MLB history to win three batting titles. In 2009, Mauer won the AL MVP award, becoming just the third AL catcher to win the award. That year, Mauer was selected to hit in the Home Run Derby and hit a monstrous .365/.444/.587 (171 OPS+) with 28 homers, 96 RBIs, and 7.8 rWAR. He led the AL in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+.

Mauer finished his career with a .306/.388/.439 (124 OPS+) batting line with 2,123 hits, 143 homers, 428 doubles, and 55.2 rWAR. He is widely considered a candidate for Cooperstown once he reaches the Hall of Fame ballot.

2. CHC: Real Pick: Mark Prior, RHP, USC –– New Pick: Mark Teixeira, 3B, Georgia Tech

The baseball world will never know how great Mark Prior could have been if it weren’t for the numerous injuries he suffered. Teixeira meanwhile was one of the best first basemen in baseball for most of his career. He boasted a strong .268/.360/.509 (126 OPS+) batting line 409 homers, 408 doubles, 1,298 RBIs, and 50.6 rWAR across 14 seasons. “Tex” was a three-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger, and a five-time Gold Glover, racking up 93 DRS. In 2009, Teixeira was the runner-up to Mauer in the MVP voting and helped the Yankees win the World Series.

3. TB: Real Pick: Dewon Brazelton, RHP, Middle Tennessee State University –– New Pick: David Wright, 3B, Hickory HS (Chesapeake, VA)

Tampa Bay whiffed badly on this pick, and this may have been the worst pick of the 2001 MLB Draft. While Brazelton made the majors in 2002, he struggled mightily to find his footing. He pitched to an ugly 6.38 ERA across five seasons and was out of professional baseball by 2007.

On the other hand, David Wright became the face of the Mets franchise after he was taken 38th overall. He was a seven-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Glover, and a two-time Silver Slugger. He had a strong .296/.376/.491 (133 OPS+) batting line with 242 homers, 390 doubles, 196 steals, and 49.2 rWAR. Wright finished as high as fourth in MVP voting and is the franchise’s leader in position player WAR, hits, doubles, RBIs, total bases, and extra-base hits. He also ranks second in franchise history in home runs and is the last player for the Mets to record a 30-30 season.

Unfortunately, injuries plagued the latter part of Wright’s career and he was never able to fully recover. In 2015, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, and he was forced to retire in 2018.

4. PHI: Real Pick: Gavin Floyd, RHP, Mount St. Joseph’s HS (Baltimore, MD) –– New Pick: Kevin Youkilis, 3B, University of Cincinnati

Floyd wasn’t necessarily a bad pick by the Phillies, but he only really became an average big-league pitcher. Youkilis wasn’t taken until the eighth round, but he and his funky batting stance became a mainstay in the middle of the Red Sox’s lineup during their run of success in the 2000s. Often lauded for his excellent plate discipline, “Youk” owned a strong .281/.382/.478 (124 OPS+) career batting line with 150 homers, 254 doubles, and 32.4 rWAR. Youk was a three-time All-Star, a Gold Glover, and a two-time World Series champion. He finished in the top-10 in MVP voting twice, finishing as high as third.

5. TEX: Real Pick: Teixeira –– New Pick: Dan Haren, RHP, Pepperdine

A second-round pick, Dan Haren was not by any means a hard thrower, hence his Twitter handle (@ithrow88). Throughout his career though, Haren was able to get good results. He was a three-time All-Star and finished as high as fifth in Cy Young voting. In 2007, Haren was selected to start the All-Star Game for the AL squad. All told, Haren played for eight different teams across his 13-year career, pitching to a 3.75 ERA/3.78 FIP (109 ERA+) with a 1.181 WHIP and 2,013 strikeouts in 2,419.2 innings (7.8 K/9).

6. MON: Real Pick: Josh Karp, RHP, UCLA –– New Pick: JJ Hardy, SS, Sabino HS (Tucson, AZ)

The Expos struck out on this pick, as Karp would never make the majors. He pitched to a subpar 4.73 ERA in the minors and was out of the organization by 2005. He hasn’t appeared in organized baseball since 2009.

Hardy was selected in the second round by the Brewers. While he wasn’t a superstar, Hardy turned into a solid shortstop. He owned a .256/.305/.408 (91 OPS+) batting line with 188 homers, 291 doubles, and 28.1 rWAR. Hardy was also a strong fielder, racking up 85 DRS. He was a two-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glover, and won a Silver Slugger in 2013.

7. BAL: Real Pick: Chris Smith, LHP, Cumberland University –– New Pick: Dan Uggla, 2B, University of Memphis

This was another bad miss, as Smith failed to make it past Class-A ball. He would pitch in just 52 minor league innings across four seasons with an unsightly 7.52 ERA before getting cut in 2005.

While Uggla was only an 11th round pick and didn’t make the majors until 2006, he was briefly one of the best offensive second basemen in baseball. He was a three-time All-Star and won a Silver Slugger, finishing as high as 17th in MVP voting. From 2006-2011, Uggla batted .258/.343/.482 while averaging 32 homers, 32 doubles, and 91 RBIs per season. While his high strikeout numbers ended up becoming worse throughout his career, Uggla was routinely relied on for his big-time power.

8. PIT: Real Pick: John Van Benschoten, RHP, Kent State –– New Pick: Jason Bartlett, SS, University of Oklahoma

Van Benschoten tore up the minor leagues in 2002 and 2003 and was even named the organization’s top prospect heading into the 2004 season by Baseball America. He was called up to the majors in the middle of the 2004 season, but he struggled mightily to the tune of a 6.91 ERA. Van Benschoten missed the entirety of the 2005 season due to a shoulder injury and never was able to succeed in MLB. He finished his big league career was an awful 9.20 ERA in 90 innings pitched.

Similar to Hardy, Jason Bartlett wasn’t a star and he wasn’t taken until the 13th round, but he became a solid big leaguer. He owned a .270/.336/.366 (91 OPS+) batting line while racking up 27 DRS and 18.4 rWAR across 10 seasons. Bartlett helped the Rays reach the World Series in 2008 and was an All-Star in 2009.

9. KC: Real Pick: Colt Griffin, RHP, Marshall HS (Marshall, TX) –– New Pick: Prior

For the fourth consecutive pick, we have a player who failed to live up to expectations. Griffin struggled to a 4.79 ERA in the minors before he was cut following the 2005 season when he was 22.

Mark Prior was an electrifying pitcher. After finishing seventh in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2002, Prior went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA/2.47 FIP (179 ERA+) and 245 strikeouts in 211.1 innings (10.4 K/9) in 2003. He was named to the NL All-Star team and finished third in Cy Young voting and ninth in MVP voting. As mentioned earlier though, injuries piled up on Prior and he was never the same. He last pitched in the majors in 2006 and retired in 2013 after a few failed comebacks.

10. HOU: Real Pick: Chris Burke, 2B, University of Tennessee –– New Pick: C.J. Wilson, LHP, Loyola Marymount

Most baseball fans remember Chris Burke for his walk-off home run in the 18th inning of NLDS Game 4 in 2005. Overall though, Burke was a below-average big leaguer. He never had an OPS+ over 100, and had a career batting line of just .239/.315/.359 (75 OPS+) and -1.2 rWAR.

C.J. Wilson wasn’t taken until the fifth round and he was brought up as a reliever initially. The Rangers made him into a starter in 2010 and he blossomed into one of the team’s best starters in the years that followed. Overall, Wilson had a 94-70 record with a 3.74 ERA/3.82 FIP (110 ERA+) and 52 saves with 1,259 strikeouts in 1,430.1 innings (7.9 K/9). Wilson was a two-time All-Star and finished sixth in Cy Young voting in 2011.

11. DET: Real Pick: Kenny Baugh, RHP, Rice University –– New Pick: Ryan Howard, 1B, Missouri State

Here we have yet another pitcher who failed to make the majors. Baugh pitched to a 4.49 ERA across seven seasons in the minors before calling it quits in 2009. According to his LinkedIn profile, Baugh went back to school and received his MBA from the University of Houston in real estate.

Howard was drafted in the fourth round and after a brief cup of coffee in the majors in 2004, he won NL Rookie of the Year in 2005. From 2006-2009 though, Howard was the best pure power hitter in MLB. During that stretch, Howard hit .278/.379/.589 (145 OPS+) with 198 homers and 572 RBIs and won NL MVP in 2006. Howard was a three-time All-Star and remained a power threat throughout his career despite his strikeout problems.

12. MIL: Real Pick: Mike Jones, RHP, Thunderbird HS (Phoenix, AZ) –– New Pick: Floyd

Unlike the other pitchers from this draft who failed to make the bigs, Jones wasn’t bad in the minors. He ranked as high as the 56th-best prospect by Baseball America and had a 2.40 ERA in Double-A in 2003. Unfortunately, arm injuries derailed his career after that season and he was out of baseball at the age of 27.

Gavin Floyd didn’t live up to the lofty expectations the Phillies had for him, but he turned into a decent starter. He went 74-76 with a 4.37 ERA/4.34 FIP (101 ERA+) and 985 strikeouts in 1,250 innings (7.1 K/9).

13. LAA: Real Pick: Casey Kotchman, 1B, Seminole HS (Seminole, FL) –– New Pick: Chris Young, OF, Bellaire HS (Bellaire, TX)

Kotchman was briefly a solid first baseman, but Young was a much more impactful player of the course of his career. While he didn’t hit for a high average, Young became a power/speed threat while helping the Diamondbacks reach the playoffs multiple times. For his career, Young had a .235/.314/.428 (95 OPS+) batting line with 191 homers, 288 doubles, 142 steals, and 16.5 rWAR. Young made one All-Star team in 2010, a year in which he also participated in the Home Run Derby.

14. SD: Real Pick: Jake Gautreau, 3B, Tulane –– New Pick: Ricky Nolasco, RHP, Rialto HS (Rialto, CA)

Gautreau was ranked as the 77th best prospect in the minors by Baseball America ahead of the 2002 season after he hit a scalding .308/.392/.524 in 50 MiLB games in 2001. Unfortunately, his performance would decline over the next few seasons and he was out of baseball by the end of the 2008 season having never made the majors.

Ricky Nolasco had a similar career to Gavin Floyd. While Nolasco had some solid seasons, his career numbers show that he was nothing more than an average pitcher. Across 12 seasons, he pitched to a 4.56 ERA/3.90 FIP (90 ERA+) and a 1.327 WHIP with 1,513 strikeouts in 1,887 innings (7.2 K/9).

15. TOR: Real Pick: Gabe Gross, OF, Auburn –– New Pick: Geovany Soto, C, American Military Academy (Guaynabo, PR)

While Gabe Gross wasn’t necessarily a bad major leaguer, he never turned into much more than a part-time player for every team he was on. Soto meanwhile turned into a power-hitting catcher, winning NL Rookie of the Year and starting in the All-Star Game in 2008. While he was inconsistent for a lot of his career, Soto would play 13 seasons in the majors and knock 108 homers with a .765 OPS (102 OPS+) and 12.0 rWAR.

16. CHW (via FLA): Real Pick: Kris Honel, RHP, Providence Catholic HS (New Lenox, IL) –– New Pick: Zach Duke, LHP, Midway HS (Waco, TX)

This might sound like a broken record, but we have another draft pick that failed to reach the majors. Honel was ranked as the game’s 55th best prospect by Baseball America ahead of the 2004 season, but he began to suffer from arm problems that year. He was out of affiliated ball by 2008, having pitched to a 4.03 ERA in the minors.

Duke wasn’t taken until the 20th round, but he was able to find some success both as a starter and a reliever. Duke made an All-Star team and by the middle of the 2010s, he became a valuable weapon as a left-handed arm out of the bullpen.

17. CLE (via BOS): Real Pick: Dan Denham, RHP, Deer Valley HS (Antioch, CA) –– New Pick: Luke Scott, OF, Oklahoma State

Denham pitched nine seasons in the minors but he never really found success at any level. His career ended without him reaching the bigs and with a 4.55 ERA. Scott meanwhile was a reliable left-handed bat everywhere he played. In his nine-year career, Scott hit .258/.340/.481 (117 OPS+) with 135 homers, 181 doubles, 436 RBIs, and 11.8 rWAR. While his defense wasn’t spectacular, teams kept Scott around for his offense.

18. NYM (via COL): Real Pick: Aaron Heilman, RHP, Notre Dame –– New Pick: Rajai Davis, 2B, UConn at Avery Point

Heilman showed flashes of greatness both as a starter and reliever in Flushing, but he never quite lived up to expectations. He is mainly remembered for serving up the series-clinching home run to Yadier Molina in the 2006 NLCS.

Rajai Davis wasn’t taken until the 38th round by the Pirates. While he didn’t stick at second base and wasn’t a star with the bat, Davis carved out a solid career as a speedy outfielder. He would finish his career with 11.8 rWAR and 415 steals, leading his league in steals once in 2016.

19. BAL (via NYY): Real Pick: Mike Fontenot, 2B, LSU –– New Pick: Noah Lowry, LHP, Pepperdine

Fontenot sent most of his career as a utility man, with his best season coming in 2008 with the Cubs when he put up a .909 OPS in 284 plate appearances.

Noah Lowry’s MLB career got off to a promising start, and after a breakout season in 2005, he seemed destined to become a front-of-the-rotation starter for the Giants. Before the 2006 season, the Giants gave Lowry a four-year contract extension. Lowry began to suffer arm injuries in 2006 though and he wasn’t able to pitch in the majors after the 2007 season. He finished his career with a 4.03 ERA/4.40 FIP (109 ERA+) and 420 strikeouts in 618.1 innings (6.1 K/9).

20. CIN: Real Pick: Jeremy Sowers, LHP, Ballard HS (Louisville, KY) –– New Pick: Kelly Shoppach, C, Baylor

Sowers didn’t sign with the Reds, though he would eventually get drafted in the first round again in 2004. Shoppach and Sowers would actually end up being battery mates in Cleveland for a few seasons. Shoppach was a high-strikeout hitter but had some pop and a strong throwing arm. In nine big-league seasons, he would hit .223/.312/.413 (95 OPS+) with 70 homers and 8.3 rWAR while throwing out 30% of attempted base stealers.

21. SF (via CLE) Real Pick: Brad Hennessey, RHP, Youngstown State –– New Pick: Jim Johnson, RHP, Union Endicott HS (Endicott, NY)

Brad Hennessey had a very injury-plagued career and he would only pitch five seasons in the majors. He ended his career with a 4.69 ERA/5.01 FIP (94 ERA+) with 20 saves.

Jim Johnson wasn’t drafted until the eighth round and while it took him a bit of time to establish himself in the majors, he briefly became one of the best relievers in baseball. In 2012 and 2013, Johnson led MLB in saves, recording consecutive 50-save seasons. He is still the last player to accomplish that feat. In 2012, Johnson was an All-Star and was named the AL Reliever of the Year. He would finish his career with 178 saves and a 3.79 ERA/3.76 FIP across 13 seasons.

22. ARI: Real Pick: Jason Bulger, RHP, Valdosta State University –– New Pick: Edwin Jackson, OF, Shaw HS (Columbus, GA)

Jason Bulger struggled mightily as a starter in the minors, but showed promise once he was converted into a reliever. Unfortunately, he only pitched in one full MLB season and he was out of baseball by the end of the 2012 season at the age of 33.

While Edwin Jackson was drafted as an outfielder in the sixth round by the Dodgers, he was converted into a pitcher early in his professional career. he’s best known for holding the record for most teams played for, but Jackson had some solid seasons. He was an All-Star in 2009 and in 2010 he threw a no-hitter. In 2011, Jackson was a world champion as he helped the Cardinals win it all.

23. NYY: (via SEA) Real Pick: John-Ford Griffin, OF, FSU –– New Pick: Kotchman

John-Ford Griffin raked in the minors, hitting as many as 30 homers in an MiLB season. He even hit well in his brief time in the majors, going 7-for-23 with two homers and three doubles. Unfortunately, he never appeared in the majors after 2007 and retired from baseball in 2010.

Casey Kotchman wasn’t a slugger, but he had some productive seasons for a few different teams. His best season was in 2007, when he hit .296/.372/.467 (119 OPS+) with 11 homers, 37 doubles, 68 RBIs, and 3.8 rWAR in 508 plate appearances. He was also a very sure-handed fielder, racking up 44 DRS and setting an MLB record by going 2,379 fielding chances without making an error.

24. ATL: (via LAD) Real Pick: Macay McBride, LHP, Screven County HS (Sylvania, GA) New Pick: Ryan Theriot, SS, LSU

McBride worked exclusively as a reliever in the majors after he struggled in the minors as a starter. He appeared in 71 games for the Braves in 2006, but after they traded him to the Tigers in 2007, his career went downhill. He battled an elbow problem and never appeared in the majors after that season.

Theriot was drafted in the third round and became a solid top-of-the-order hitter in Chicago. In six seasons with the Cubs, Theriot hit .287/.350/.362 with 648 hits, 91 doubles, 16 triples, 100 steals, and 6.2 rWAR. Thanks in part to Theriot, the Cubs were able to win the NL Central in 2007 and 2008.

25. OAK: Real Pick: Bobby Crosby, SS, CSU Long Beach –– New Pick: Scott Hairston, 2B, Central Arizona College

Crosby spent eight years in the majors, but he never quite lived up to expectations after being ranked the 32nd best prospect in baseball. While Hairston was never really a full-time player, he was known for beating up on left-handed pitching. Overall, Hairston smacked 109 homers across 11 seasons and accumulated 6.2 rWAR.

26. OAK (via NYM): Real Pick: Jeremy Bonderman, RHP, Pasco HS (Pasco, WA) –– New Pick: Jack Hannahan, 3B, University of Minnesota

Bonderman showed flashes of greatness in the majors, but he was pretty inconsistent and dealt with a lot of injuries. Hannahan wasn’t much of a hitter, but he was pretty sure-handed at third base. He was able to rack up 6.3 rWAR and 34 DRS across eight seasons.

27. CLE (via CHW): Real Pick: Alan Horne, RHP, Marianna HS (Marianna, FL) –– New Pick: Crosby

Horne would go unsigned by Cleveland and never ended up making the majors. Crosby’s MLB career got off to a promising start when he won AL Rookie of the Year in 2004. He would follow up that season with his lone above-average offensive season in 2005, a year in which he racked up 3.7 rWAR in 84 games. While he was never able to replicate the success he had in either of those seasons, Crosby was able to hang around the big leagues until 2010.

28. STL: Real Pick: Justin Pope, RHP, UCF –– New Pick: Neal Cotts, LHP, Illinois State

Justin Pope showed a ton of promise in the minors, pitching to a 3.34 ERA and a 1.166 WHIP with 68 saves in eight seasons. Unfortunately, he never made the majors, retiring from baseball in 2008. He currently is the pitching coach for the Charleston Riverdogs.

At first glance, Neal Cotts’ big-league numbers may look like nothing special. He pitched to a 3.96 ERA/4.36 FIP (111 ERA+) with 421 strikeouts in 443.1 innings (8.5 K/9). Cotts had two spectacular seasons though in 2005 and 2013. In 2005, Cotts appeared in 69 games, registering a strong 1.94 ERA/2.95 FIP and a 1.110 WHIP with 58 strikeouts in 60.1 innings (8.7 K/9), helping the White Sox to a World Series title. In 2013, Cotts appeared in 58 games for the Rangers and recorded a 1.11 ERA/2.17 FIP with a 0.947 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 57 innings (10.3 K/9). 4.6 of Cotts’ 5.2 career rWAR came in those two seasons.

29. ATL: Real Pick: Josh Burrus, SS, Wheeler HS (Marietta, GA) –– New Pick: Chad Tracy, 3B, East Carolina

Burrus hit just .238/.310/.354 in the minors and never made the majors. He was out of baseball at the age of 26. Chad Tracy was a solid contributor for the Diamondbacks, hitting .280/.339/.453 (100 OPS+) with 78 homers, 153 doubles, and 5.9 rWAR over six seasons. He was particularly strong in 2005, hitting .308/.359/.553 (132 OPS+) with 27 homers, 34 doubles, 72 RBIs, and 3.6 rWAR.

30. SF: Real Pick: Lowry –– New Pick: Bonderman

We end this re-draft by swapping one arm for another. As mentioned earlier, Bonderman had a very up-and-down big-league career. He helped the Tigers reach the World Series in 2006 and was even considered for the All-Star Final Vote in 2007. After the first half of the 2007 season though, Bonderman’s career went downhill. After pitching to a 3.48 ERA in the first half, Bonderman had an ugly 7.38 ERA in the second half. He battled injuries over the next few seasons, pitching his final season in 2013.

Follow me on Twitter at @Mathias_A_K for more of my content. Don’t forget to listen to our baseball podcast, Cheap Seats Chatter! We’ll see ya there! Come join the discussion made by the fans at the Overtime Heroics forums! A place for all sports!

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Mathias is a graduate student at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. He is currently studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism on the Sports Media and Communications track. He graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2021, where he studied journalism and served as the Sports Editor and Opinions Editor for the school's newspaper, The Signal. He joined Overtime Heroics as a writer in June of 2019 and became an editor in December of 2020 before taking over the MLB department in June of 2021. Mathias is also a former varsity swimmer and is the youngest of five kids.