Some of you know who I am talking about and some are scratching their heads. Bryan Bullington was the number one pick in the 2002 MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. In typical Pirates fashion, they drafted him (rated 6th in the draft) first overall because they felt as though they wouldn’t be able to sign BJ Upton, Prince Fielder, Scott Kazmir, Cole Hammels and Nick Swisher. Sometimes it pays to pony up the dough for a quality player, Bullington is a classic example of why teams shouldn’t draft by signing possibility and more for need.
It’s been a long road for Bullington. He started out his career in 2003 where he split time between Hickory and Lynchburg while posting a 13-5/2.52/1.13. It was a promising season and the Pirates felt he was ready for AA. In 2004, he spent the entire season in AA Altoona, where he went 12-7/4.10/1.43. As you can tell from the secondary stats, his record was misleading. Although he didn’t issue many walks, he gave up a ton of hits and it was starting to look like he was over matched.
Unfortunately in 2005 he was 24 and he needed to make his move to the big leagues and the Pirates sent him to AAA Indianapolis where he actually pitched fairly well, 9-5/3.38/1.19 and earned a call up to the majors. He played in one game and promptly blew out his shoulder. He would miss nearly two full seasons. We pick up his career in 2007 where he spent most of the season in 2007 where he went 11-9/4.00/1.36 and got another call up to the pros, where in 5 games he went 0-3 and just got pounded.
In 2008 he was waived by the Pirates and claimed by the Indians. It was more of the same, just not major league material. in 2009 he was waived by the Indians and claimed by the Blue Jays. Unfortunately it was a repeat performance and he got pounded in the majors. Spent most of the year in AAA Las Vegas as a reclamation project to turn him into a reliever. The reviews were mixed, which is why this Spring training he is a non-roster invitee with the Royals.
This is really it for the former number one overall pick. He needs to show he has the stuff of relievers or he is done. I hope that he can come through. As for his hobby value, he is widely considered a common at this point and you could have almost any of his autographed cards for just a dollar. The one pictured below is my favorite, it’s from the 2004 Finest set. If he doesn’t put it together this season we would have to list him as a top 5 worst number one draft pick of all time.