What players have shown their worth in the baseball field and proven to be the best MLB draft steals?
Find out below!
The first Major League Baseball draft was held in New York City on June 8-9, 1965.
Ever since the MLB draft has been held annually, it has serves as means to the continuity of the league.
Time and often, during this draft selection procedures, some players look so promising and particularly hard to ignore but end up being a flop upon debuting in the MLB.
However, a few others fail to impress or perhaps give a questionable glint of their abilities.
However, upon featuring in the MLB, they become big names to reckon with and immortalize their name in the sport with tons of achievements, thus becoming high draft steals.
Sportytell presents the Top 10 best MLB draft steals of all time.
Table of Contents
The Best MLB Draft Steals Ever
10. Bret Saberhagen
Saberhagen was selected as 480th overall pick in the 1982 MLB draft by the Kansas City Royals.
Three years later, Kansas was rewarded as Saberhagen’s five-hit throw helped defeated St. Louis Cardinals, earning the franchise its first World Series Championship title.
He won the match MVP award.
He also won the Cy Young Award that season.
He paid back in full the faith Kansas had in him.
9. Andy Pettitte
The New York Yankees drafted petite in the 1990 draft 22nd round, 524th overall, and he went on making his debut appearance in the MLB in 1995.
Judging from his late draft pick, Petite career was a contrast to what was expected of him.
His debut season performance defied expectation as he emerged third in the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
He went on winning five World Series titles and featured in three All-Star teams in the course of his 18-year spell in the MLB.
8. Don Mattingly
Mattingly was a prolific fielder but was unlucky to play for the New York Yankees.
His career with the Yankees started as the franchise’s glorious dominating days came to a halt and ended as the franchise returned to winning ways.
The year following his retirement, the franchise won the World Series and the next four titles.
He was drafted in the 19th round, 493rd overall of the 1979 draft. He happened to be the only player picked in that round that made it to the Majors.
He debuted in the MLB in 1982 and won the American League MVP Award three years later.
Hitting an average of 343, he won the batting title in 1984 as well as winning nine Gold Gloves.
7. Trevor Hoffman
The Cincinnati Reds drafted Hoffman in the 1989 draft at the round of 11 and 290th overall.
Sadly he never got the chance to play for the Reds in the Major League.
An expansion draft in 1992 saw him ending up with the Florida Marlins.
However, After 28 games played with the Marlins, he moved to San Diego Padres, where he hit the peak and helped the Padres to the World Series.
He became one of the best pitchers in the game, and upon his retirement, his career 601 saved was an all-time record.
2018, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
6. Ryne Sandberg
The 20th round and 511th overall draft pick debuted in the MLB in 1981 in the Philadelphia Phillies’ colors.
However, he established his name as one of the best during his stint with the Chicago Cubs.
He aided the franchise to its first postseason appearance in years.
His stint with the Cubs saw him top the league with 40 home runs in a season, won nine consecutive Gold Gloves.
Upon his retirement, he had been named to 10 straight All-Star games and had a total of 282 career home runs.
He was one of the best late drafts that blossomed into one of the game finest.
5. James Thome
One of the best Sluggers in baseball’s history was an unknown 13th round, 333rd overall draft pick in the 1989 draft.
He debuted the MLB back in 1991, playing for the Cleveland Indians.
A career-high 52, a total of 334 home runs, including an impressive 511-foot shot to the center field, are a few of the impeccable feat Thome achieved in his time with the Indians.
Upon retirement, his total of 612 career home runs saw him joined the 600 home run club.
He featured in Five All-Star games and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018.
4. John Smoltz
Coming in the 22nd round, 574th overall in the 1985 draft pick, he became an unused draft for the Detroit Tigers as he never played a game with them until he was traded to the Atlanta Braves.
The unnoticed selection paired with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine to become a dominant trio force in the sport.
The result was Atlanta Braves winning the 1995 World Series.
He won the Cy Young Award the following year and the Silver Slugger Award the year after.
Twice he emerged as the NL wins leader and strikeout leader.
He featured in eight All-Star games.
He is the only pitcher in the history of the MLB to have recorded 200 wins and saves of 150.
He performed beyond the promising potential he was expected when drafted.
3. Ryan Nolan
Nolan emerged as the 295th pick in the 10th round of the 1965 draft. At the initial start of his career, Nolan’s performance wasn’t encouraging.
But come to the year 1969, and Nolan transforms for the better in his play.
That year the Mets won the World Series.
After been traded to the California Angels, he continued his impressive play and earned his first All-Star invites in 1972.
Following that, he featured in seven more All-Star games.
Eleven times he topped the league in strikeouts.
He tops the league’s ERA chart on two occasions.
Upon his retirement, he had a total of 5,714 career strikeouts.
He as well was the all-time leader in no-hitter with an impressive 7.
He wasn’t up to a promising start in his career but succeeded in turning the curves around.
2. Mike Piazza
Piazza’s case is quite hilarious.
Now the baseman was picked in the 1988 draft not because something was promising about him, not at all, but solely as a favor to manager Tommy Lasorda who happens to be a friend of Piazza’s father.
He emerged the 1390th pick in the 62nd round.
However, that little hurt was necessary for spurning Piazza onto the path of success.
Manager Lasorda converted the baseman into a catcher to improve his chance of getting promoted, and he triumphs in that role.
In his debut season, he clinched the NL Rookie of the Year Award and was named in first of his twelve All-Star teams.
1998 he was traded to the New York Met, and in 2000 he aided the franchise to the World Series; unfortunately, they didn’t win.
He finished his career with the Oakland Athletics in 2007, having ten Silver Slugger Awards to his name.
He is one of the best offensive catchers in MLB history and the lowest drafted player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1. Albert Pujols
The Dominican professional baseball player started his MLB career in 2001 after been picked by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 MLB draft.
He emerged NL Rookie of the Year in his debut season.
His powerful contact hitting ability combined with patience and depth read of the game was influential in helping the Cardinals becoming World Series champions twice.
In the span of his ongoing career, he has been named to ten All-Star teams, won the Gold Gloves Award twice as well as emerged NL MVP on three occasions.
He was the National League RBI leader in 2010.
Considering that over 25 MLB teams had a chance to pick Pujols but ignored him and the fact that more than half of the 401 players picked ahead of him never made it to the MLB, along with his outstanding achievement in the league makes him the ideal no. 1 among the best MLB draft steals of all time.
He presently plays for the Los Angeles Angels.
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What are your thoughts about this list of the best MLB draft steals?
Albert Pujols clinching the top position ahead of the famous Mike Piazza sounds a bit controversial.
Feel free to share your opinion in the comment section below.