Stephen Strasburg Hopes to Have Better Career Than Some Former Pitchers Drafted First Overall


Jun 8, 2010

The phrase "highly anticipated" doesn't even come close to describing pitching phenomenon Stephen Strasburg's first major league start.

Expectations are soaring, and the suspense will finally be over as he prepares to take the mound on Tuesday for the Washington Nationals. We know how good Strasburg was in college and in the minor leagues, but how will he fare in The Show?

Let's catch a glimpse of what may be ahead for Strasburg by taking a look back at those who were once in his shoes. Here's a rundown of the No. 1 MLB draft picks who were pitchers, since 1980.

1981: Mike Moore, RHP, Seattle Mariners
From Oral Roberts University, Moore played for the Seattle Mariners (1982-88), the A's (1989-92) and the Tigers (1993-95). He won a World Series with the A's in 1989 and was an All-Star the same year. Moore's record was 161-176 with an ERA of 4.39 and 1,667 strikeouts over his 14-year career.

1983: Tim Belcher, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Over the course of his career, Belcher played with seven different major league clubs. The draft pick out of Mount Vernon Nazarene University went to the Minnesota Twins, but refused to sign with Minnesota. Belcher was then drafted by the New York Yankees in 1984 in the supplemental draft, and ended up with the Oakland Athletics in the compensation pool, before being traded to the Dodgers in 1987. From 1987-2000, his record was 146-140 with an ERA of 4.16 and 1,519 strikeouts. He won a World Series in 1988 with the Dodgers and led the NL in complete games (10) and shutouts (8) in 1989. After a series of injuries, Belcher retired as an Angel in 2001.

1988: Andy Benes, San Diego Padres

From the University of Evansville, Benes went to the San Diego Padres in 1988. He played for the Padres (1989-95), Mariners (1995), Cardinals (1996-97, 2000-02) and Diamondbacks (1998-99), throwing out their first pitch in franchise history. In 1993, Benes was an All-Star after a 15-15 season with the Padres, and in 1996 he finished third in the Cy Young Award voting after going 18-10 with a 3.83 ERA. Over the span of his career, he went 155-139, with an ERA of 3.97 and 2,000 strikeouts.

1989: Ben McDonald, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
As a Baltimore Oriole, McDonald couldn't ask for a better career start — he threw a complete game shutout against the White Sox in 1990. From Louisiana State University, he played for the Orioles (1989-95) and the Brewers (1996-97) with a career record of 78-70 with a 3.91 ERA and 894 strikeouts. McDonald never pitched in the postseason.

1991: Brien Taylor, LHP, New York Yankees
Straight out of East Carteret High School to the New York Yankees, Taylor is only the second No. 1 draft pick, and the only pitcher to be taken first, to never reach the major leagues. In 1993, he suffered a shoulder injury in a fistfight and never pitched the same. At Double-A before the incident, he was relegated back to single-A for most of the rest of his career.

1994: Paul Wilson, RHP, New York Mets
From Florida State University, Wilson played within the Mets organization from 1996 until he was traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2000. In 2002, he signed as a free agent with the Cincinnati Reds, where he played until his retirement in 2005. His career record was 40-58 with an ERA of 4.86 and 619 strikeouts.

1996: Kris Benson, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Still active, Benson is the fifth starter for the Arizona Diamondbacks, currently on the disabled list for a shoulder injury. From Clemson University, he played with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1999-04), the New York Mets (2004-05), the Baltimore Orioles (2006), the Texas Rangers (2009) and the Diamondbacks (2010-present). He won a bronze medal with the U.S. men's baseball team in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and has a career record of 69-74 with a 4.42 ERA and 798 strikeouts.

1997: Matt Anderson, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Drafted by the Detroit Tigers from Rice University, Anderson started strong. In his first major league season, he went 5-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 42 games. However, after tearing a muscle in his throwing arm, the relief pitcher's fastball velocity suffered. In 2005, his final major league season, Anderson walked 11 batters and gave up 19 hits in 10 innings with the Colorado Rockies. His career record was 15-7 with an ERA of 5.19 and 224 strikeouts.

2002: Bryan Bullington, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
From Ball State University, Bullington played for the Pirates (2005, 2007), Indians (2008), Blue Jays (2009) and Royals (2010-present). He was the first player from the Mid-American Conference to be selected with the first pick in a major sport's draft but so far, he has been disappointing. Injuries limited Bullington's playing time and as of now, his career record is 0-6 with a 5.57 ERA and 27 strikeouts.

2006: Luke Hochevar, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Drafted from the Fort Worth Cats, Kansas City Royals' pitcher Hochevar has struggled with consistency. In his 2009 debut, he lasted just two innings and gave up eight runs. However, on June 12, 2009, he pitched an 80-pitch complete game, allowing only three hits and one run. On the whole, Hochevar's record is 18-30 with an ERA of 5.65 and 237 strikeouts.

2007: David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Most pitchers win a regular-season game before even dreaming of the postseason. Not this guy. From Vanderbilt University, Price was the winning pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in Game 2 of the 2008 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox. He then pitched 2 1/3 innings in Game 2 of the 2008 World Series. He gave up two earned runs but still earned his second career save. It wasn't until May 30, 2009, that Price won his first regular-season game in a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins. His career record is 18-9 with a 3.53 ERA and 167 strikeouts.

2009: Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals

Stay tuned.

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