With the 2019 MLB Draft beginning on Monday, here’s a look back at 10 players taken late in the draft who defied expectations to become All-Stars.
The list of players selected first overall in the MLB Draft who went on to have stellar careers is a long one: Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Bryce Harper, to name just a few.
These players were always expected to be future superstars and lived up to that hype. Sometimes, though, a player arrives in the big leagues who was unheralded going into the draft. They weren’t first overall picks or even first round picks. They weren’t even picked in the first 10 rounds. Instead, they had to defy expectations to become All-Stars in the big leagues.
The 2019 draft begins on Monday, and Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman is expected to be the first player selected by the Baltimore Orioles. He may prove to be a valuable Major Leaguer, but there are plenty of examples throughout draft history of players taken hundreds of picks after the top prospects who went on to outshine them in the big leagues.
Here are the 10 best draft steals in the history of the MLB draft.
10. Bret Saberhagen
Bret Saberhagen was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 19th round, 480th overall in 1982 out of a California high school. Just three years later he took the mound in Game 7 of the World Series, throwing a five-hit shutout to beat the St. Louis Cardinals and win the first world championship in franchise history. Saberhagen gave up just one run in 18 innings during the series to win World Series MVP. He was still just 21 years old.
The 1985 campaign was Saberhagen’s second in the big leagues after making his debut with the Royals in 1984. In addition to World Series MVP, he won the Cy Young Award that season after going 20-6 with a 2.87 ERA. He added another Cy Young in 1989, leading the league with 23 wins and a 2.16 ERA.
Saberhagen pitched in Kansas City for eight seasons, going 110-78 with a 3.21 ERA, fourth in franchise history. He went on to play parts of four seasons with the New York Mets and had further stops in Colorado and Boston, retiring after the 2001 season with the Red Sox. He finished his career with a 167-117 record and a 3.34 ERA.