Hey, who here remembers Bryan Bullington? Oh, you don't. Well, back in 2002, the Pirates had the Number One overall pick in the player entry draft, and used it to select Bullington, an All-American pitcher at Ball State University.
More on that choice in a moment, but Bullington, now pitching in Japan, found himself in the news again this week when this piece of video went viral, as the Kids Today say. This even got a featured spot on PTI with Tony and Wilbon the other day.
Guess you better be careful when you call time when Bryan is in his wind-up.
Getting back to Draft Day, 2002, Dave Littlefield became famous when after selecting Bullington with, I remind you again, THE NUMBER ONE PICK IN THE ENTIRE DRAFT, he stated that the Pirates had projected Bullington as a possible #3 or #4 starter. Turns out Bullington wasn't even that good, and that pick and that quote haunted Littlefield right up until the day he got the paper key from the Pirates.
Just for kicks and giggles, I decided to engage in some revisionist history and see who else was selected in the first round of that 2002 Draft to get an idea of just how lousy that Bullington pick turned out to be. Yeah, I know this isn't always fair, but this was the FIRST OVERALL PICK, which Littlefield & Co. used on Bullington when they could have selected:
B.J. Upton (2nd pick), Zack Greinke (6), Prince Fielder (7), Jeff Francis (9), Jeremy Hermida (11), Joe Saunders (12), Khalil Greene (13), Scott Kazmir (15), Nick Swisher (16), Cole Hamels (17), James Loney (19), Denard Span (20), Jeff Francoeur (23), Joe Blanton (24), or Matt Cain (25).
True, this means that there were 14 other guys selected in that first round who have never been heard from again (at least, not by me), but of those 15 guys above, each has made some significant contributions at the major league level, seven of them have made all-star teams, there is one World Series MVP, and one league MVP in there, and at least one almost sure fire Hall of Famer, if he doesn't eat himself out of baseball before he turns 35.
I have always said that there is no more inexact science that projecting which 18 or 19 year old kid will become a star major league baseball player, but in retrospect, the Pirates sure screwed the pooch back in 2002, didn't they?