Baseball’s Mr. Irrelevants

Every year, the last player chosen in the NFL draft is lauded as Mr. Irrelevant. Sometimes he makes the roster out of training camp, sometimes he doesn’t, but for awhile, at least, he enjoys some measure of semi-celebrity status.

The baseball equivalent, however, has never been as celebrated. This clearly has a lot to do with the fact that Major League Baseball’s draft is nowhere near the event that the NFL draft is – Mel Kiper has been a household name for twenty years, while baseball only started televising the event within the past two or three years.

There is also the problem of visibility. There have been 45 Mr. Irrelevants in major league history. Of those, only two have played in the major leagues, and only then after they went back to school and were selected higher in a later year. Don Wakamatsu, currently the manager of the Seattle Mariners, got into 18 games with the Chicago White Sox in 1991 (both Baseball-Reference.com and Thebaseballcube.com list Wakamatsu as having been drafted by the Reds in the 11th round in 1985; no mention is made 1984, when he was the last pick, except in the year-by-year databases. Some articles have mentioned his Mr. Irrelevant status).

In 1989, the Houston Astros spent the draft’s 1,490th pick on Desi Wilson, a first baseman from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Wilson’s draft odyssey was interesting to say the least: he was a fifteenth round selection by the Red Sox in 1987, but failed to sign. The Astros took him in the 87th round in 1989 – understandably, he again refused to sign. Finally, the Rangers nabbed him in the 30th round in 1991. He wisely signed. Though his major league career only lasted 41 games, he enjoyed a seventeen year career in professional baseball.

Thirty-two Mr. Irrelevants didn’t even play in the minor leagues, according to the two Web sites referenced above. Between 1985 and 1995, only Wilson had any statistics available. For seven of those years (1989-95), the last pick was made by either the Houston Astros or the Florida Marlins.

At least two of these players are still active. Boston’s Kyle Stroup did not play after being drafted last year but is listed as a member of the Gulf Coast League Red Sox this season, and Los Angeles’ Alibay Barkley was chosen out New York’s George Washington High School just last week. According to the New York Times, he is still undecided between signing a contract immediately or attending junior college for a year and re-entering the draft in 2010.

Major and Minor League Experience

Year Round Pick Team Player Position Years

High Level
1984 51 839 New York Yankees Don Wakamatsu C 12

MLB
1989 87 1490 Houston Astros Desi Wilson 1B 17

MLB

Minor League Experience

Year Round Pick Team Player Position Years High Level
1977 42 775 St. Louis Cardinals Deron Thomas INF 4 AA
1980 44 832 Cleveland Indians Shanie Dugas SS 10 AAA
1981 44 853 San Francisco Giants Mark Winters LHP 4 High A
1982 47 832 New York Yankees Robert Woodcock 2B 1 Low A
1983 50 827 Texas Rangers Brad Hill OF 4 AA
1996 100 1740 New York Yankees Aron Amundson 3B 2 Independent
1997 92 1607 Tampa Bay Rays Andy Baxter SS 2 Low A
2000 50 1452 Atlanta Braves Drew Jackson OF 5 Rookie
2002 50 1482 St. Louis Cardinals John Powell RHP 2 Rookie
2004 50 1498 Atlanta Braves Eric Gonzalez RHP 2 A
2007 50 1453 New York Yankees Larry Day C 2 A

No Stats Available

Year

Round Pick Team Player Position
1965 72 824 Houston Astros Reginald Thomas OF
1966 63 833 New York Yankees Matt Galante INF
1967 77 975 New York Yankees Donald Van Deusen SS
1968 71 913 Los Angeles Dodgers Carl Amendola C
1969 90 1044 Kansas City Royals James Beal 2B
1970 60 929 Pittsburgh Pirates Anthony Buckley RHP
1971 48 803 Los Angeles Dodgers Don Stackpole C
1972 46 791 San Francisco Giants Carl Wesley OF
1973 52 747 St. Louis Cardinals Bert Francks RHP
1974 41 690 Baltimore Orioles Ron DeGrande OF
1975 37 679 Minnesota Twins Al Arthur RHP
1976 40 713 San Francisco Giants Sammy Bickham RHP
1978 48 779 Cleveland Indians Delbert Stacey RHP
1979 44 870 Pittsburgh Pirates Paul Cox LHP
1985 39 832 Cleveland Indians Clay Parrach 1B
1986 49 891 Baltimore Orioles Daniel Johnston 2B
1987 74 1263 Kansas City Royals Stewart Anthony SS
1988 75 1433 New York Yankees Robert LeFebre OF
1990 99 1489 Houston Astros Jeff Caldwell OF
1991 96 1600 Houston Astros Brian Hudson RHP
1992 50 1412 Florida Marlins James Woods OF
1993 91 1721 Florida Marlins Shawn Summers OF
1994 98 1707 Houston Astros Cameron Saska LHP
1995 87 1666 Florida Marlins Brian Haught SS
1998 50 1446 Arizona Diamondbacks Lucas Gruner C
1999 50 1474 Atlanta Braves Scott Leitz LHP
2001 50 1485 San Francisco Giants P.J. McGinnis RHP
2003 50 1480 Atlanta Braves John Scaglione RHP
2005 50 1501 New York Yankees Blake Heym C
2006 50 1502 St. Louis Cardinals Charles Matthews RHP
2008 50 1504 Boston Red Sox Kyle Stroup RHP
2009 50 1521 Los Angeles Angels Alibay Barkley 1B
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4 responses to this post.

  1. Any stats on how many non-drafted players have made the majors?

    Reply

  2. very well written
    thank you

    Reply

  3. Darren,

    I’m assuming that you mean players who were eligible for the draft (high school seniors, college juniors, junior and community college players) but were not selected (as opposed to players from foreign countries who were not eligible and therefore signed as free agents). I’m not sure how many of those types of players exist, but it’s a great question and one that I’d like to look into more deeply at some point. If I find anything useful, I’ll post it here and let you know.

    Reply

  4. Posted by BoSoxFan on August 5, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Kyle Stroup has stats available. So, now you can move him up to your minor league experience list.

    Reply

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