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They Were Number One: Top College Pitchers, 1989-2004

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They Were Number One: Top College Pitchers, 1989-2004

Here are the Top College Pitchers drafted (and signed) in the first round, 1989 through 2004. Players who did not sign are not included.

1989: Ben McDonald, RHP, Louisiana State  (Orioles, 1st overall): 78-70 (.527), 3.91 ERA, 115 ERA+, 1291 innings.

1990: Alex Fernandez, RHP, Miami-Dade South CC (White Sox, 4th overall): 107-87 (.552), 3.74 ERA, 115 ERA+, 1760 innings.

1991: Joey Hamilton, RHP, Georgia Southern  (Padres, 8th overall): 74-73 (.503), 4.44 ERA, 94 ERA+, 1341 innings.

1992: Paul Shuey, RHP, North Carolina (Indians, 2nd overall): 45-28 (.616), 23 saves, 3.87 ERA, 119 ERA+, 530 innings.

1993: Darren Dreifort, RHP, Wichita State  (Dodgers, 2nd overall): 48-60 (.444), 4.36 ERA, 95 ERA+, 873 innings.

1994: Paul Wilson, RHP, Florida State (Mets, 1st overall) 40-58 (.408), 4.86 ERA, 88 ERA+, 942 innings.

1995: Jonathan Johnson, RHP, Florida State  (Rangers, 7th overall)  2-4 (.333), 6.63 ERA, 69 ERA+, 77 innings.

1996: Kris Benson, RHP, Clemson  (Pirates, 1st overall): 69-74 (.483), 4.38 ERA, 101 ERA+, 1222 innings.

1997: Matt Anderson, RHP, Rice (Tigers, 1st overall): 15-7 (.682), 26 saves, 5.19 ERA, 88 ERA+, 257 innings.

1998: Mark Mulder, LHP, Michigan State (Athletics, 2nd overall): 103-60 (.632), 4.18 ERA, 106 ERA+, 1314 innings.

1999: Kyle Snyder, RHP, North Carolina  (Royals, 7th overall): 8-17 (.320), 5.57 ERA, 85 ERA+, 238 innings.

2000: Adam Johnson, RHP, Cal State Fullerton (Twins, 2nd overall): 1-3 (.250), 10.25 ERA, 45 ERA+, 26 innings.

2001: Mark Prior, RHP, Southern Cal  (Cubs, 2nd overall): 42-29 (.592), 3.51 ERA, 123 ERA+, 657 innings.

2002: Bryan Bullington, RHP, Ball State  (Pirates, 1st overall): 0-5 (.000), 5.08 ERA, 87 ERA+, 39 innings.

2003: Kyle Sleeth, RHP, Wake Forest  (Tigers, 3rd overall): Never made the majors, posted 6.55 ERA in 249 minor league innings.

2004: Justin Verlander, RHP, Old Dominion  (Tigers, 2nd overall): 50-36 (.581), 4.10 ERA, 111 ERA+, 656 innings.

Of this group, I think the three who had the most Strasburg-like hype were McDonald, Wilson, and Prior, all regarded, when drafted, as among the best college pitchers in history. Dreifort, Benson, Mulder, and Verlander were also very highly-regarded, if not quite at the same level as the others.

The only two-year college player on this list, Alex Fernandez, is a special case. He had pitched brilliantly as a freshman for the Miami Hurricanes, but transferred to the CC level for his sophomore year in order to re-enter the draft and cash in early. Interestingly, Fernandez also pitched the most innings of this group thus far.

Paul Shuey never became the monster closer people expected, but he has been a decent reliever. Matt Anderson, the other big-name expected closer on this list, was terrible due to command problems.

The high rate of injury casualties is apparent.