Since being taken with the 25th overall selection in the 2009 MLB draft, Mike Trout has become the best player in baseball. And, honestly, it’s really not even close at this point. The scary part is that he’s still just 28 years old and is entering what’s supposed to be the prime years of an athlete’s career. So he could actually somehow still get better than he already is, which just has to be a frightening thought for opposing pitchers.
With Major League Baseball still trying to figure out what to do for the 2020 season as COVID-19 continues to keep much of the sports world on lockdown, the only thing baseball fans really have to talk about at this point, outside of Korean baseball anyway, is the MLB draft, which begins on Wednesday.
With that in mind, I decided to take a look back at that 2009 draft in which Trout was taken by the Angels and see how the 24 players taken ahead of the three-time AL MVP (still not sure how that happened) have fared in their respective careers. The results were astounding. Of those 24, only eight are on a big-league roster. Eight.
How many teams passed on Mike Trout in the 2009 MLB draft?
It was pretty much a given that the Washington Nationals were going to use the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft on Stephen Strasburg. He had become the best collegiate pitcher in the land at San Diego State and had also helped the U.S. to a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics. So everyone knew that was coming.
After that, things were a bit of a mystery. Unless there’s a can’t-miss prospect out there, a lot of teams tend to go with pitchers in the first round. There was a can’t-miss prospect out there but teams were apparently too scared to grab a 17-year-old kid from Jersey, even though Mike Trout was looked at as one of the top players in the draft.
In total, 21 teams passed on Mike Trout before the Angels grabbed him at No. 25. Washington and Arizona had two picks each before then and the Angels also held the No. 24 pick, which they used on Randal Grichuk, who is actually one of the eight players still in The Show at this point, although he never suited up for the Halos in the big leagues.
Mike Trout is easily the best player in baseball
Since making his MLB debut in 2011, in which he played in just 40 games, Mike Trout has become the best player in the game by far. In his first full season in 2012, he won AL Rookie of the Year and finished second in MVP voting. Since then, he’s only finished outside the top two once, a fourth-place finish in 2017. He’s won AL MVP three times, the Hank Aaron Award twice, is an eight-time All-Star, and has won seven Silver Slugger Awards.
In 1,199 career games with the Angels, Mike Trout has a .305 batting average, a 1.000 OPS, 285 home runs, 752 runs batted in, has scored 903 runs, and has stolen 200 bases. Yeah, the guy’s pretty good.
So how about those other 24 guys?
Only eight of the 24 players taken ahead of the three-time AL MVP are currently on an MLB roster
Here’s a quick look at the 24 players drafted ahead of Mike Trout, including the team that drafted them, how they fared in MLB (if they made it at all), and where they are now. Italicized text indicates that the player is still in the big leagues. As you’ll see, there aren’t many.
- Stephen Strasburg, P, Washington Nationals: 112-58 career record in 10 seasons with the Nats, three-time All-Star, 2019 World Series MVP
- Dustin Ackley, OF, Seattle Mariners: .241 career average in six seasons with the Mariners and Yankees, out of MLB since 2016
- Donovan Tate, OF, San Diego Padres: Played six seasons in the minors, never played one game in the majors
- Tony Sanchez, C, Pittsburgh Pirates: Played in just 52 games over four MLB seasons with the Pirates and Braves, out of the majors since 2017
- Matt Hobgood, P, Baltimore Orioles: Spent six seasons in the minors, never played in the majors
- Zach Wheeler, P, San Francisco Giants: 44-38 career record in five years with the Mets, signed with the Phillies in December 2019
- Mike Minor, P, Atlanta Braves: 70-60 career record in eight MLB seasons with the Braves, Royals, and Rangers, one-time All-Star, currently plays for Texas
- Mike Leake, P, Cincinnati Reds: 105-98 record in 10 MLB seasons with five teams, currently plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks
- Jacob Turner, P, Detroit Tigers: 14-31 career record in seven big-league seasons with five teams, out of MLB since 2018
- Drew Storen, P, Washington Nationals: 29-18 record and 99 saves in eight MLB seasons with four teams, out of the big leagues since 2017
- Tyler Matzek, P, Colorado Rockies: 8-12 record in two seasons with the Rockies, currently in the minors of the Braves organization
- Aaron Crow, P, Kansas City Royals: 20-11 record in four seasons with the Royals, one-time All-Star, last played in MLB in 2014
- Grant Green, SS, Oakland A’s: Played 129 games in five big-league seasons with four teams, out of the majors since 2017
- Matt Purke, P, Texas Rangers: made 12 appearances for the Chicago White Sox in 2016 and hasn’t played in the majors since
- Alex White, P, Cleveland Indians: 5-13 record in two MLB seasons with the Indians and Rockies, hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2012
- Bobby Borchering, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks: Played seven seasons in the minors with three organizations, never played in the majors
- A.J. Pollock, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks: .279 average with 89 HR and 311 RBI in eight MLB seasons with the Diamondbacks and Dodgers, one-time All-Star, currently plays for the Dodgers
- Chad James, P, Florida Marlins: Played six minor-league seasons, never played in the majors
- Shelby Miller, P, St. Louis Cardinals: 38-56 record in eight MLB seasons with four teams, currently signed with the Milwaukee Brewers
- Chad Jenkins, P, Toronto Blue Jays: 3-4 career record in 46 appearances for Toronto over four seasons, out of MLB since 2015
- Jiovanni Mier, SS, Houston Astros: Played nine seasons in the minors and one season in Mexico, never played in the majors
- Kyle Gibson, P, Minnesota Twins: 67-68 record for the Twins over seven seasons, currently signed with the Texas Rangers
- Jared Mitchell, OF, Chicago White Sox: Has played 11 seasons split between the minors and independent leagues, never played in MLB
- Randal Grichuk, OF, LA Angels: .244 average with 122 HR and 323 RBI in six seasons with the Cardinals and Blue Jays, currently signed with Toronto
That’s crazy, right? I mean, six of those guys never even made it to the majors. And a few of them fizzled out after a year or two. Outside of Strasburg, none of the 24 have made a real impact outside of a random All-Star appearance. But then there’s Mike Trout, who just might go on to become the greatest baseball player the world has ever seen. And, again, it’s scary to think he might not have even peaked yet.
*All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference