Busted! 5 Worst Seattle Mariners Draft Picks Ever

5 who couldn’t hack it for the Mariners

There are bright spots and there are not so bright spots. Then there are the guys in today’s category.

For one reason or another, many Mariners players fail to overcome their hype, their problems or were just flat out bad decisions to begin with. Let’s shake out fists together as we sort out the worst of the worst.


Here is my list of the 5 worst Mariners draft picks in history. Be ready to cringe.

Honorable Mention

Brandon Morrow

Although Brandon Morrow hasn’t had a bad career and will most likely go on to put up good numbers, he is on the list for one reason and one reason only. The Mariners selected him 5th overall in the 2006 MLB draft out of Cal. Where they messed up, though, was letting a guy slip to #10 in the draft to the Giants.

He was a hometown kid and even pitched for the Huskies. His name?  Tim Lincecum.

5. Jeff Clement

The Mariners selected Clement 3rd overall in the 2005 MLB draft out of USC.

He was a top ranked catcher who was going to bolster the position for the Mariners as they were still trying to find a permanent replacement for Dan Wilson. He made 2 trips to the Mariners and spent the rest of his time bouncing between AA and AAA teams and went on to do the same for Pittsburgh.

Others the Mariners could have had instead? Third basemen Ryan Zimmerman or Ryan Braun, center fielders Andrew McCutcheon, Jay Bruce and Jacoby Ellsbury, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki or pitcher Ricky Romero.

Jose Cruz Jr.

"What? I'm supposed to be good?"

4. Roger Salkeld

Salkeld was chosen 3rd overall in the 1989 MLB draft out of Saugus High School is Saugus, California. He was a highly touted righty who was expected to do big things for the Mariners. He spent more time in AAA than in the major leagues and went on to stink it up in Cincinnati before bouncing between 3 other clubs’ minor league systems.

Other notable players taken after Salkeld in the 89 draft? A pair of first basemen named Frank Thomas and Mo Vaughn.

3. Mark Newfield

The Mariners selected Newfield 6th overall in the 1990 MLB draft out of Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California. During his time with the Mariners, he spent more time in their farm system than in a Mariners uniform. He went onto “play” for San Diego and Milwaukee and spent more time in their farm systems than on their big league teams as well? The man drafted after Newfield in the 90 draft? Dan Wilson.

Ryan Anderson

The Little Unit did very little for Seattle

2. Jose Cruz Jr.

The Mariners selected Cruz 3rd overall in the 1995 MLB draft out of Rice University. He was hyped from the start as his dad, Jose Cruz (Sr.) was a popular player in the league. He had several stints for the Rainiers and Mariners and showed slight flashes of brilliance, but amounted to nothing in the Mariners organization.

He went on to Toronto, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego and Houston by the end of his underachieving career. Other options for the Mariners in the 95 draft who went after Cruz? How about 2 elite pitchers in Kerry Wood and Roy Halladay?

1. Ryan Anderson

The Mariners selected Anderson 19th overall in the 1997 MLB draft out of Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan. He was the heir apparent to Randy Johnson and even dubbed ‘The Little Unit.’ After 2 Tommy John surgeries and lackluster performances in Tacoma, the Mariners parted ways with their biggest bust in draft history. 1997 turned out to be one of the worst draft classes ever for the Mariners.

There were definitely more than these guys that could have made the list, but these were my worst of the worst being a Mariners fan all my life?

Agree with my list? Disagree with it?

Comment below and give me your take and your list!

You can also read my Cream of the Crop – 5 Best Seattle Mariners Draftees Article

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About Brandon Choate

Guest reporter on "Real Rob Report." Raised on Eastside of Seattle, a super fan of every sports team in Seattle. Bleeds Blue, Green, Teal, Purple and Gold. Likes video games, food, and poor attempts at comedy. Connect with Brandon today!
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  • Insider Steve

    I have a huge problem with this list. Lets start from the top.

    1. Brandon Morrow wasn’t a bust. Not even close. Yes he had 8-12 record in 3 seasons, but he also had 3.96 ERA and 204 K’s to boot. Here is where this gets interesting. He had 16 saves as a closer, but also started 15 games (4-3 4.74 ERA, 39 ER, 72 K’s, 50 BB’s, 12 HR’s – Mariners were 6-9 as a team in those 15 starts) You cannot use the “because we didn’t draft Lincicum, Morrow is a bust” line. When you look at his line and see the manner in which he was used, Starter, set-up, closer, you can clearly see that management never gave him a defined roll. They kept juggling him around. Just because Bavasi and co never understood baseball doesn’t mean Morrow was a bust. As a matter of fact he doesn’t even scratch the bust surface.

    2. Jose Cruz Jr – really? Cruz made his debut on May 31st 1997, and only played in 49 games before being shipped out on July 31st of that same year to Toronto for Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric. In that brief time though, he did hit .268/.315/.541/.856, 12 HR, 34 RBI. If Woody Woodward hadn’t traded him, he would’ve been the everyday LF for at least 6 more seasons. It would’ve closed that gaping revolving LF door that we have had since the days of Phil Bradley.

    3. I have a problem labeling Roger Salkeld a bust mainly because he had only 15 starts in a Mariners uniform before being shipped off to Cincinnati. His first full MLB season (1994) was pretty terrible 2-5 7.17 ERA, but his next full season in Cincinnati (1996) was pretty decent. He had an 8-5 record.

    Here are some real honorable mentions

    1. Bill Swift – Draft year 1984 – In 7 seasons with the Mariners (1985-91, 1998), Swift was 41-49, 4.23 ERA, 1.454 WHIP, 369 K’s, 304 BB’s. In 5 seasons as a full time starter (1985-89, 1998), Swift was 34-43, 5.10 ERA, 1.548 WHIP, 279 K’s, 257 BB’s. Now that is a bust my friend..

    2. Matt Young – Draft year 1980 2nd round – In 5 seasons with the Mariners (1983-86, 1990), Young was 45-66, 4.13 ERA, 1.425 WHIP, 597 K’s, 365 BB’s. In 4 seasons as a full time starter (1983-85,1990) Young was 37-60, 4.36 ERA, 1.454 WHIP, 515 K’s, 319 BB’s..

    3. Dave Fleming – Draft year – 1990 3rd round – In 5 seasons with the Mariners (1991-95), Fleming was 38-31, 4.73 ERA, 1.506 WHIP, 289 K’s, 229  BB’s, and 63 HR

    4. Bob Wolcott – Draft year – 1992 2nd round – In 3 season with the Mariners (1995-97), Wolcott was 15-18, 5.66 ERA, 1.566 WHIP, 155 K’s, 97 BB’s, and 54 HR’s

    5. Greg Pirkl – Draft year – 1988 2nd round – In 4 seasons with the Mariners (1993-96), Pirkl hit .224/.242/.466/.706, 8 HR, 16 RBI. He was drafted as the next big Mariners masher. He never amounted to jack.

    Here is some more Mariners 1st round draft busts

    Michael Garciaparra, Jeff Heverlo, Phillipe Aumont, Ryan Christianson, Anthony Manahan, Scott Burrell, Patrick Lennon, Tito Nani, Al Chambers, Darrel Akerfelds, Terry Bell, Mike Campbell, Bill McGuire..

    • I agree with you on the majority of this. I labeled Morrow a bust (honorable mention, not actually on the list) solely based on what we could’ve got instead. Like I mentioned, he has the makings of a good future career still. But to have Lincecum instead would’ve been game changing for the Mariners.

      And as for Jose Cruz Jr and Salkeld, it was the hype that came with them and the fact that they WERE shipped out because they didn’t pan out to the phenoms they were supposed to be. I strongly considered Pirkl and Swift over Salkeld.

      • Insider Steve

        Again Brandon, with Cruz Jr and Salkeld they were shipped out before they could’ve had their opportunities to prove otherwise. Especially with Cruz. If he would’ve not been traded 49 games after his MLB debut, he would’ve hit 25 + HR’s in a Mariners uniform. After Cruz Jr’s trade to Toronto, he went on to hit 14 HR’s, bringing his 1997 total 26 HR’s. From 1998-2002 while still with Toronto, Cruz hit 108 HR’s and 321 RBI. From 2000-2004, Cruz had four seasons of 20+ HR’s…That’s not a bust at all. I would say he lived up to his billing. I think you would agree with me when I say those numbers would’ve played out in Seattle if he stayed.

        As for Salkeld, he went on to a so-so MLB career. I will give you this. He didn’t live up to his billing after he was dealt.

        Just because Bavasi didn’t draft Lincecum doesn’t even come close to qualifying Morrow as an honorable mention. Is that a draft blunder? Certainly, but that’s something completely different all together.

        From 1978 to 1989 the Mariners drafted in order Tito Nani, Al Chambers, Darnell Coles, Mike Moore, Spike Owen, Darrel Akerfelds, Terry Bell, Bill Swift, Mike Campbell, Patrick Lennon, Ken Griffey Jr, Tino Martinez, and Roger Salkeld.

        In that time period the Mariners passed on Kirk Gibson, Andy Van Slyke, Tim Wallach, Steve Howe, Atlee Hammaker, Joe Carter, Matt Williams, Todd Worrell, Roger Clemens, Dan Pleasac, Mark McGwire, Walt Weiss, Brian McRae, Rafeal Palmeiro, Frank Thomas, Mo Vaughn, and Chuck Knoblauch.

        Looking at the passed list do you think the Mariners would like to have a re-do? Of course they would, but this happens every year to every team. No one had the foresight to see that all of those guys would go on to those type of careers. Just like no had the foresight to see that Lincecum would turn into a two-time Cy Young award winner, and WS champ.

        Again Brandon, Morrow was mis-used at every step of his Mariners career. That is not his fault or should be an indictment on him. He wasn’t a bust or should even be an honorable mention.

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