Baseball players tend to have long careers, with 15 years in MLB not that uncommon. That means it can be hard for younger players to make an impression on the league, so they have to stand out. These players were selected in the MLB draft but few under the radar to begin with. Thankfully for their teams, they stepped up and became some of the most underrated draft picks ever.
Adam Eaton – Arizona Diamondbacks, 571st in 2009
Adam Eaton was way down the pecking order when it came to the MLB draft in 2009. It got to the 17th round of picks before teams moved for him. The team that picked him up was the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he was initially sent to play on their developmental team. He came back to MLB in 2013 but suffered a career-threatening injury to his right elbow.
Eaton transferred to the White Sox, and his fortunes began to change. Twice Eaton has led the American League in triples, in 2014 and 2016, he will hope when he is injury-free once more he’ll be back to his impressive best.
Mike Piazza – LA Dodgers, 1390th in 1988
Mike Piazza was only drafted to the Dodgers as a favor to his father from the LA team’s coach Tommy Lasorda. Someone picked at 1390th would not be expected to have a Hall of Fame career, but clearly, Mike Piazza’s father knew better than most.
Piazza soon broke into the Dodgers team, and when he finally debuted for them in 1993, he made a huge impact. The catcher won Rookie of the Year and appeared in 12 All-Star games before retiring in 2007. He was a ten-time Silver Slugger winner and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
Nolan Ryan – New York Mets, 226th in 1965
Nolan Ryan graduated high school and immediately entered the MLB draft in 1965. He was selected at 226th as one for the future because he wasn’t ready for the big leagues. After a season with a developmental team, Ryan made his MLB debut in 1966. He had progressed quicker than expected, and the Mets felt the youngster could add something to their team.
Cut to the end of his career, and the pitcher had a Hall of Fame career. He won the World Series in 1969 and was an eight-time All-Star player. Ryan was the league strikeout leader 11 times and proved everyone wrong to earn 5,714 career strikeouts.
Andre Dawson – Montreal Expos, 250th in 1975
Andre Dawson was obviously a talented player to even make it into the draft, but being the 250th pick meant most teams were not expecting great things. Sometimes being low down in the draft pick is the extra motivation a player needs to prove themselves, and it certainly helped Dawson. The right and center fielder broke into the team in 1977 and was named the Rookie of the Year.
Dawson had the desire to prove he was one of the best and was named in the All-Star side eight times, as well as winning the NL MVP once. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the ninth time of asking, showing that even after his career he was still underrated.
These players might not have had the buzz of expectation around them at the beginning of their careers, but they all had heart. Each was determined to show their worth and deserve to be considered some of the most underrated draft picks ever.