Ken Medlin

The strange history of MLB's No. 3 picks

Posted July 10, 2014

After hearing Carlos Rodon had agreed to a contract with the Chicago White Sox, I started wondering how other players drafted third overall in the MLB draft fared over the years.

So, I looked it up – and what I found really surprised me.

I expected to find a steady stream of All-Stars, but instead I found only three players that truly fit the mold of “great.” A couple more players have a chance to hit those heights before their careers end, and a handful of other players fit just outside of “greatness” territory.

The rest of the group? Well, some had solid careers in MLB, but quite a few of the players drafted No. 3 overall faded into obscurity.

So, if Rodon – the best collegiate pitcher I’ve ever seen in this area, and one of the best period – becomes a starter in the majors, he’ll have to buck the No. 3 trend.

Major League Baseball held its first amateur draft in 1965. That year the Washington Senators drafted pitcher Joe Coleman, who went on to a solid career (142 wins) and once struck out 14 batters in an ALCS game, but he may be best known around here for his seven seasons as pitching coach for the Durham Bulls.

In the five decades since that initial draft, two Hall of Famers have been selected third overall. Ironically, they were drafted by the same team. The Milwaukee Brewers picked Robin Yount in that spot in 1973, then snagged Paul Molitor at No. 3 four years later.

Most teams have been nowhere near that fortunate. For every Molitor and Yount you’ll find a Martin Cott (1968), a Les Filkins (1975) and a Kyle Sleeth (2003).

For that matter, how many people remember names like Theodore Nelson (1969), Tommy Bianco (1971), Drew Hall (1984) and Dewon Brazelton (2001)?

It all goes to show that drafting in baseball is far from an exact science. Players generally take longer to develop for MLB than they do in the NBA or even the NFL, and even a “sure thing” might turn out to be something other than “sure” as the years go on.

Not all of the No. 3 club were busts, of course. Evan Longoria (2006) is likely on his way to Cooperstown, and Manny Machado (2010) just might join him there. Matt Williams (1986) was a fearsome hitter for years, and so was Troy Glaus (1997). And guys like Lonnie Smith (1974) and Steve Avery (1988) were post-season fixtures.

Rodon’s also not the only local player drafted No. 3 overall. Johnston County native Barry Foote came off the board third in 1970, heading north of the border for Montreal. Foote played 10 seasons in the majors, hitting .230 with 57 career home runs.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Rodon was a steal for the White Sox. But his predecessors at No. 3 have shown nothing is guaranteed.

Here’s a list of the players picked third overall, in order from 1965 – I’m guessing you'll find quite a few unfamiliar names, although there is a pitcher-turned-third baseman and a Super Bowl champ in the list:

Joe Coleman, Wayne Twitchell, Mike Garman, Martin Cott, Theodore Nelson, Barry Foote, Tommy Bianco, Larry Christenson, Robin Yount, Lonnie Smith, Les Filkins, Kenneth Smith, Paul Molitor, Hubie Brooks, Jay Schroeder, Ken Dayley, Dick Schofield, Jimmy Jones, Jeff Kunkel, Drew Hall, Bobby Witt, Matt Williams, Willie Banks, Steve Avery, Roger Salkeld, Mike Lieberthal, David McCarty, Billy Wallace, Brian Anderson, Dustin Hermanson, Jose Cruz, Jr., Braden Looper, Troy Glaus, Corey Patterson, Eric Munson, Luis Montanez, Dewon Brazelton, Christopher Gruler, Kyle Sleeth, Philip Humber, Jeff Clement, Evan Longoria, Josh Vitters, Eric Hosmer, Donovan Tate, Manny Machado, Trevor Bauer, Mike Zunino, Jon Gray and… Carlos Rodon.

Here's hoping Carlos is the exception and not the rule.

6 Comments

Please to add a comment.

Newest First
View all
  • jhilfiker2001 Jul 10, 8:20 a.m.

    "So, if Rodon – the best collegiate pitcher I’ve ever seen in this area, and one of the best period"

    Matt Harvey?

  • heels2 Jul 10, 8:49 a.m.

    A "steal" at #3?

  • meep Jul 10, 8:55 a.m.

    I saw both pitch in college, and Harvey was good, but not as good as Rodon. Harvey, 22-7 on teams with run support versus Rodon, 25-10, with 7 of those losses coming last year due to no run support (State scored 1 run or less in 6 of those losses).
    Harvey's UNC ERA was 3.75 and Rodon's closer to 2.5.
    Harvey had 263 career K's in college, where Rodon had 369.
    Hands down Rodon is one of the best collegiate pitchers, ever, and this comes from a Tar Heel.
    I am looking forward to how their MLB careers stack against each other. Harvey is a great MLB pitcher, and should he come back from TJ as he was before, could go into the HOF. Rodon has the ability to become a great MLB pitcher, but that's where time will tell.

  • dave437 Jul 10, 9:16 a.m.

    is that the same Jay Schroeder who was QB for the Redskins and Raiders?

  • Hammerhead Jul 10, 9:44 a.m.

    is that the same Jay Schroeder who was QB for the Redskins and Raiders?

    — Posted by dave437

    Yup.

  • StunGunn Jul 12, 9:03 p.m.

    I saw both pitch in college, and Harvey was good, but not as good as Rodon. Harvey, 22-7 on... View More

    — Posted by meep

    Good analysis, meep. I had thought Harvey was better as well, but after reading the stats you posted, it's hard to argue that Rodon is even better. I wish them both well in their professional careers. Hopefully Harvey will return next season fully healed from his TJ surgery.

  • ACC: NC State at Georgia Tech

    Tomorrow at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Arkansas at Florida

    Tomorrow at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Waste Management Phoenix Open

    Tomorrow at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Big 10: Michigan at Michigan State

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NHL: Hurricanes vs. St. Louis

    Tonight at 7:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: NC State at Georgia Tech

    Tomorrow at 12:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at NY Rangers

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
STL
 
Final
ORL 100
MIL 115
Final
IND 103
NYK 82
Final
MEM 99
DEN 69
Final
LAL 123
CHI 118
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
MIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
HOU
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
POR
 
7:30pm Tonight
CLE
SAC
 
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
DAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
LAC
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
GSW
 
10:30pm Tonight
PHO
CHI
 
Final
PROV 83
DEP 72
Final
RUTG 51
MSU 71
Final
ARMY 71
BU 67
 
Final
RFLSH 75
BRY 68
 
Final
MERC 75
CHAT 72
 
Final
LIU 67
CCST 55
 
Final
TOWS 74
COC 70
 
Final
UMASS 66
DAY 64
Final
FUR 59
ETST 55
 
Final
ODU 71
FIU 56
Final
RMU 87
FD 65
 
Final
CHAR 86
FATL 61
Final
LIB 53
HIGH 72
 
Final
UNF 86
KNST 67
 
Final
FLGC 78
LIP 62
 
Final
OSU 80
MD 56
Final
Terriers 73
MNTER 67
 
Final
STET 85
NKENTUCKY 75
 
Final
WAGN 75
SHU 64
 
Final
GMAS 68
STLU 60
Final
JVU 65
USCU 78
 
Final
VMI 70
WCU 85
 
Final
LATU 69
WKENT 56
Final
UNCG 42
WOFF 58
 
Final
DET 93
YOUNG 87
 
Final
GSOUT 83
APP 46
 
Final
TENNM 81
EILL 51
 
Final
GHND 64
HC 54
 
Final
CIN 70
UCONN 58
Final
NDST 61
DEN 54
 
Final
SD 55
MAST 66
 
Final
UWMIL 71
ILLCH 65
 
Final
BEL 103
JVST 82
 
Final
SMISS 54
MARS 69
Final
TXSA 69
MTST 58
Final
PETE 49
RIDE 58
 
Final
SEMIZ 61
SIUE 75
 
Final
TENST 64
TENT 56
 
Final
NDAK 60
WEBER 67
 
Final
SALA 89
LALAF 85
 
Final
ARKST 65
ARKLR 75
 
Final
TROY 55
LAMON 58
 
Final
TXARL 74
UGST 88
 
Final
MURST 85
EKENT 78
 
Final
NCOL 79
IDST 76
 
Final
MIZZ 53
KENT 69
Final
GONZ 64
PORT 46
Final
UTEP 71
UAB 69
Final
GRCN 78
UMKC 57
 
Final
WLVRN 78
CHIST 62
 
Final
USC 94
COL 98
Final
UCI 67
CPSL 57
 
Final
CSNO 73
HAW 84
 
Final
PAC 43
PEPP 50
 
Final
SDU 69
SCU 64
 
Final
UCD 70
UCSB 64
 
Final
UCLA 69
UTAH 59
Final
PORST 54
MONT 73
 
Final
SACST 75
MNTST 59
 
Final
CSFU 85
LBSU 91
 
Final
GAELS 68
LMU 54
 
Final
WASU 67
CAL 76
Final
BYU 78
USF 74
 
6:00pm Tonight
PRIN
HARV
 
7:00pm Tonight
CORN
BRO
 
7:00pm Tonight
PENN
DART
 
7:00pm Tonight
NIAG
MAR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAN
QUIN
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAN
SIENA
 
8:00pm Tonight
WILL
IUPUI
 
8:00pm Tonight
FAIR
MON
 
8:00pm Tonight
ARST
OREG
 
8:00pm Tonight
CLMB
YALE
 
10:00pm Tonight
BUF
KSU
 
10:00pm Tonight
ARZ
ORST
 
Final
NYI 2
BOS 5
Final
NYR 0
MON 1
Final
PHI 5
WIN 2
Final
TOR 1
ARI 3
Final
FLA 3
CLB 2
Final
TAM 5
DET 1
Final
STL 5
NAS 4
Final
CAL 0
MIN 1
Final
EDM 3
BUF 2
Final
SJS 6
ANA 3
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
PIT
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
STL
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
NAS
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
BUF
 
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
CHI