11 Years Later: Looking Back at the 24 Players Selected Before Mike Trout 

Angels star outfielder and three-time MVP Mike Trout was selected by the Los Angeles Angels with the 25th selection in the first round of the 2009 MLB Draft.

How 24 players were selected by the greatest player of his generation will go down in history as “Exhibit A” of the imperfections of professional scouting. Here’s a look back at the 24 players selected before Michael Nelson Trout and how they have progressed in their baseball careers. 

No. 1: Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals 

Strasburg is one of the best starting pitchers in the game and his performance was instrumental in the club’s 2019 World Series championship. Strasburg has the second-highest bWAR (33.5) of players selected in the first round. He is 39.3 WAR behind Trout despite posting a 112-58 record, 3.17 ERA, and 1,695 strikeouts in 1,438.2 innings. This is just another indicator of Trout’s greatness to be that far distanced ahead of a pitcher like Strasburg. 

No. 2: Dustin Ackley – Seattle Mariners 

The UNC Tarheel outfielder and first baseman was the best offensive college hitter in the draft as viewed by most scouts. Seattle drafted Ackley based on his MLB readiness but arguably hurt his career by converting him to second base and fast-tracking him versus the more conservative approach they took with fellow Tar Heel and third-round selection, Kyle Seager. Ackley debuted with Seattle in 2011 and by 2015 found himself a role with the club. He hasn’t played in the majors since 2016 and ironically spent a couple seasons for the Angels’ Triple-A Salt Lake Bees beneath Mike Trout’s parent club before falling off the radar. 

No. 3: Donovan Tate – San Diego Padres 

Cartersville, Ga., high school outfielder Donovan Tate was the outfielder the Padres decided to draft instead of Mike Trout. Tate would walk away from professional baseball in 2016 after failing to advance beyond the Single-A level. Tate would enroll at the University of Arizona in 2017 and spend a season as their No. 2 quarterback before returning home to Georgia after one season in Arizona. 

No. 4: Tony Sanchez – Pittsburgh Pirates 

The Boston College catcher played a total of 52 MLB games with Pittsburgh and Atlanta between 2013 and 2017 and spent 2019 catching for the Rangers’ Double-A club. Sanchez, like Ackley, was a teammate on the 2017 Salt Lake Bees roster, playing a level below Mike Trout in the same organization. 

No. 5: Matt Hobgood – Baltimore Orioles 

Norco High School right-handed pitcher Matt Hobgood was Baltimore’s selection. After six seasons in the O’s farm system, Hobgood was out of baseball after pitching six games for Double-A Bowie and posting a 6.52 ERA at his highest level of professional ball. Thankfully for the citizens of Prescott, Ariz., Hobgood is now a Wildland Fire EMT for American Fire Services. 

No. 6: Zach Wheeler – San Francisco Giants 

The Giants selected the Georgia high school right-hander and eventually dealt him at the 2011 trade deadline as a Single-A pitcher in exchange for outfielder Carlos Beltran. The Giants would win two more World Series championships after the deal but both without the assistance of Beltran. Wheeler suffered through some injuries but has completed two back-to-back healthy, successful seasons and landed a robust offseason contract with Philadelphia. 

No. 7: Mike Minor – Atlanta Braves 

The Vanderbilt southpaw advanced quickly to Atlanta making his MLB debut in 2010 and pitched well for the Braves until his career was sidetracked by injuries. Minor has bounced back with two terrific seasons in Texas that included a 200-strikeout and 14-win season last year as he also received an All-Star nomination. 

No. 8: Mike Leake – Cincinnati Reds 

Arizona State right-hander Mike Leake was drafted, signed late, and made his MLB debut the following spring without pitching a single game in the minors. Over his ten-year MLB career, Leake has started 22 or more games every year and accumulated a 105-98 record with 4.05 ERA over 296 starts. 

No. 9: Jacob Turner – Detroit Tigers 

High school right-hander Jacob Turner advanced quickly through the Tigers’ system, making his MLB debut for Detroit in 2011. Turner was dealt to Miami in 2012 in exchange for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante; he last pitched at the MLB level for Miami and Detroit in 2018, posting a 20.25 ERA across 6.2 innings. Turner pitched for the KBO’s Kia Tigers in 2019 and is currently a free agent. 

No. 10 Drew Storen: Washington Nationals 

The Stanford right-handed closer advanced quickly and immediately made an impact for the Nationals between 2010 and 2015. However, Storen’s performance was never the same after being dealt to Toronto as he is currently signed to a minor league contract with Philadelphia. Storen last pitched at the MLB level in 2017 and has 99 saves and 3.45 ERA across 470 games with four MLB clubs. 

No. 11: Tyler Matzek – Colorado Rockies 

The Capo Valley left-handed hurler was looking to be a key to Colorado’s starting rotation for years when he debuted in 2014, finishing his rookie season at 6-11 across 19 starts. However, Matzek would struggle to find the strike zone in future seasons and has only pitched in five MLB games since that rookie season. Matzek was pitching for Atlanta this spring while hoping to find his way back to the majors as a reliever for the Braves. 

No. 12: Aaron Crow – Kansas City Royals 

The Royals selected the former Missouri right-hander and he immediately made an impact out of the Royals’ bullpen, earning a spot on the America League All-Star team during his 2011 rookie season. Crow would pitch 254 games at the highest level but after reconstructive elbow surgery, he never appeared in the majors again. He’s spent recent seasons pitching in independent ball and the Mexican Baseball League. 

No. 13: Grant Green – Oakland Athletics 

The USC middle infielder was drafted by Oakland and ended up making his debut for the Athletics in 2013, spending a few months in the green and gold before being dealt to the Angels at the 2013 trade deadline for Alberto Callaspo. Green would play as teammates with Mike Trout in parts of the 2013 through 2015 seasons and last appeared in the majors for Washington in 2017. He was last seen playing professional ball for Mexico’s Monclova club in 2018. 

No. 14: Matt Purke – Texas Rangers 

The TCU right-hander reached the MLB level for 12 games for the Chicago White Sox in 2016. Purke was last seen pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League last year. 

No. 15: Alex White – Cleveland Indians 

The UNC starter ascended quickly to Cleveland, making only three starts for the club before being dealt to hitter-friendly Colorado at the 2011 trade deadline in exchange for Ubaldo Jimenez. White would pitch 30 games for the Rockies and never made another MLB appearance following the 2012 season. White was last seen pitching for the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2018. 

No. 16: Bobby Borchering – Arizona Diamondbacks 

The Florida high school hitter was selected by Arizona nine picks prior to Mike Trout but unlike the Angels outfielder, Borchering would never play above the Double-A level and last played affiliated baseball hitting .203 in 64 games for Single-A Lakeland in 2015.  

No. 17: A.J. Pollock – Arizona Diamondbacks 

Like the Angels, Arizona had back-to-back picks just eight slots prior to the Halos and did at least land one solid MLB player from the duo. The Diamondbacks ironically received the 17th pick from the Dodgers (Pollock’s current team) and Pollock has since posted an impressive .279/.337/.467 career hitting line in eight seasons with Arizona and Los Angeles. He was an All-Star and won a Gold Glove award in 2015 with Arizona. 

No. 18: Chad James – Miami Marlins 

The Oklahoma high school southpaw would never pitch above the Double-A level before his second positive test for amphetamines and third positive test for drugs of abuse led to a 100-game suspension from baseball. 

No. 19: Shelby Miller – St. Louis Cardinals 

The Texas high school right-hander was off to a great start with his MLB career for the Cardinals between 2012 and 2014 before being a key piece of the trade that sent Jason Heyward from Atlanta. Miller would be an All-Star in his first year in Atlanta in 2015 but his career has spun downward since. Miller is attempting to make the 2020 Milwaukee Brewers club. 

No. 20: Chad Jenkins – Toronto Blue Jays 

The Kennesaw State righty would pitch portions of 46 games for Toronto between 2012 and 2015, posting a 3.31 ERA for the Blue Jays. Jenkins was released by Toronto in 2016 and is now a financial accountant in Georgia. 

No. 21: Jiovanni Mier – Houston Astros 

The California high school shortstop was the third high school position player selected in the draft prior to Mike Trout. He went on to appear in 836 minor league games but never reached the majors. Jio Mier last played professionally for Tijuana in Mexican League and is now keeping Mike Trout and the Angels safe on game days as a deputy in Orange County Sheriff’s Department. 

No. 22: Kyle Gibson – Minnesota Twins 

The Missouri right-handed starter won 67 games in 193 outings for the Minnesota Twins and is now a member of the Texas Rangers. 

No. 23: Jared Mitchell – Chicago White Sox 

The LSU wide receiver and outfielder has failed to reach the majors over 11 seasons of professional baseball, including a stint for the Angels’ Double-A Arkansas club in 2015. 

No. 24: Randal Grichuk – Los Angeles Angels 

Rumor has it the Angels planned on drafting Trout with this pick but decided to select him with one pick later for a lower signing bonus. Grichuk was also a high school outfielder and was traded by Angels to St. Louis for David Freese as a Single-A prospect. Grichuk’s 122 career home runs are second-most to Trout’s 285 among the players drafted in the top 25 of the 2009 draft. 

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