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Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

June 6, 2011 at 2:01 PM

The No. 2 overall pick has no guarantee of stardom (but the track record isn’t bad)

The No. 2 overall pick in the MLB draft is the reward for a miserable season – and over the past 20 years has occasionally served to compound the agony.

Teams feel they can’t afford to miss landing an impact player with a pick that high, and yet they sometimes have. Just ask the Twins, who in 2000 selected right-handed pitcher Adam Johnson No. 2 overall. He pitched nine games in the majors and had a 10.25 earned-run average.

No. 2 overall picks like Mike Kelley (Braves, 1991), Paul Shuey (Indians, 1992), Darren Dreifort (Dodgers, 1993), Ben Grieve (A’s, 1994) and Ben Davis (Padres, 1995) all had their moments in the majors, but fell short of stardom. Mark Prior was headed for superstardom with the Cubs until his shoulder gave out. Prior hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2006 and his comeback aspirations are dimming.

But here’s the encouraging news for the Mariners, who hold the No. 2 overall pick in today’s draft, the second time in three years they’ve parlayed a 101-loss season into such a high pick:

There are numerous success stories from which to draw hope at No., 2, such as Justin Verlander (Tigers), Josh Beckett (Marlins), Mark Mulder (A’s), Rickie Weeks (Brewers) and B.J. Upton (Rays).

Some, like Verlander and Beckett, became bona fide stars, while Mulder had a solid career, winning 15 or more games for five straight years until he, too, succumbed to arm problems. Weeks and Upton aren’t quite stars, but they’re solid big leaguers.

It’s too soon to tell on the more recent No. 2 overall picks like Jameson Taillon (2010), Ackley (2009), Pedro Alvarez (2008) and Mike Moustakas (2007), but their teams still have high hopes. Greg Reynolds (2006) has been a bust so far, but the Rockies haven’t given up, and the Royals are hoping this is finally the breakout year for Alex Gordon (2005).

Here is a list of the No. 2 overall picks over the last 20 years. Click on the player to look at how his career went.

1991: Mike Kelly, Braves

1992: Paul Shuey, Indians

1993: Darren Dreifort, Dodgers

1994: Ben Grieve, A’s

1995: Ben Davis, Padres

1996: Travis Lee, Twins (never signed with Twins; became a free agent on technicality and signed with Arizona).

1997: J.D. Drew, Phillies (never signed with Phillies; re-entered the draft and signed with St. Louis in 1998 as the No. 5 overall pick).

1998: Mark Mulder, A’s

1999: Josh Beckett, Marlins

2000: Adam Johnson, Twins

2001: Mark Prior, Cubs

2002: B.J. Upton, Rays

2003: Rickie Weeks, Brewers

2004: Justin Verlander, Tigers

2005: Alex Gordon, Royals

2006: Greg Reynolds, Rockies

2007: Mike Moustakas, Royals

2008: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates

2009: Dustin Ackley, Mariners

2010: Jameson Taillon, Pirates

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