Here are the highest-drafted busts at each position by the Diamondbacks. By “bust,” I mean a player who never made it to the majors or was below replacement level. All players are classed using the position at which they were originally drafted, regardless of any subsequent changes of role.
C. Stryker Trahan: #26, 2012
Before there was Peter O’Brien, Trahan was another catcher who couldn’t catch. It was not a tools issue, even during an attempt to become an outfielder. In June last year, Bobby DeMuro wrote, “He’s got the right size and build, the cannon of an arm to cut down runners from the outfield, even speed far better than one would expect from a former catcher. He has power to all fields, and an impressive lefty swing.” It was using them which was the issue. In five years, he never got above High-A, and batted a collective .220. He was released by Arizona in March and is still unsigned.
1B. Jeff Brooks: #113, 2007
Brooks was only seventeen when he became Arizona’s third-round pick out of Solanco HS in Oxford, PA. His best season came two years later with Rookie League Missoula, when Jeff batted .339 with 12 HR in 73 games. But he never posted an OPS of even .660 thereafter, and after 2002, moved over to independent ball - first, as a player, then as a coach and manager. He took the Maui Warriors to the Pacific Association Baseball League title in 2013, and was most recently heard of (last season), coaching the Texas Airhogs of the American Association.
2B. Taylor Harbin: #253, 2007
For whatever reason, the D-backs don’t draft second-basemen. The only one taken in the first 250 picks overall was Scott Hairston, our 3rd-round selection in 2001. And he turned out okay, which leaves poor Mr. Harbin holding the baby, despite being an 8th-round selection. It’s not entirely his fault. For of the 30 players chosen, 90% never made the majors: the exceptions are Matt Moore, Chad Bettis and future former ex-Diamondback, Daniel Schlereth. On the other hand, the same round has also given Arizona our greatest home-grown pitcher AND position player, in Brandon Webb and Paul Goldschmidt. But Goldie is our only 8th-round pick since 2001 to reach the majors.
SS. Corey Myers, #4, 1999
Still the biggest bust in franchise history, and a local one at that, being drafted out of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix - at the time, the highest slot ever for an Arizona teenager. It was a serious reach, Myers only being ranked the 100th-best prospect by Baseball America - turns out they were right. He didn’t stick long as a shortstop, moving to third-base after his first professional season. Myers was also tried at first, and even as a catcher, but never made it above Triple-A. He was in the news this March: Corey had been working as assistant head coach of the Auburn softball team, under his father, Clint, but resigned for “family reasons,” which still appear unclear.
3B. Bobby Borchering: #16, 2009
Will forever be known as “The guy we picked when Mike Trout was still available.” In a draft stuffed full of talent - not just Trout, also Strasburg, Pollock, Arenado, Leake, Kipnis - the D-backs swung and missed with their first pick. They weren’t the worst: the Padres went for Donovan Tate at #3, and he never made it above High-A, before his baseball career was ended by injury, and is now trying to become QB for the U of A Wildcats at age 26. That’s more interesting than Borchering, who “peaked in double-A, where he used to show his teammates highlight videos of his high-school swing.”
OF. Jon Zeringue: #56, 2004
OF. Jerry Proctor: #65, 1996
OF. Marc Krauss: #64, 2009
I’m going to lump the trio together, because to be honest, they’re not memorable enough to merit a section each. Krauss was dealt (along with Borchering, curiously) to the Astros for Chris Johnson, and did at least reach the majors, appearing in 145 games. However, he hit only .188 and was worth -1.8 bWAR. He’s currently in indie ball with the Long Island Ducks. According to John Sickels, Zeringue’s “Strike zone judgment failed at higher levels”. But he has a Twitter account - well, I’m presuming it’s him, there can’t be many Jon Zeringue’s around. It contains exactly one, rather poignant Tweet, from 2012
Trying to figure out how the f**k to work twitter.— Jon Zeringue (@TheRealJZVD) September 29, 2012
Jerry Proctor? I have absolutely nothing: likely unsurprising considering I had never even been to Arizona when he was drafted, and he appeared in only 91 pro games.
RHP. Matt Torra: #31, 2005
This falls into the category of sad stories. After just 10 innings in his professional career, he needed surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. When he came back, he was not the same pitcher the D-backs had signed. We sold him to the Rays in 2011, and he was on the Italian roster for the World Baseball Classic in 2013. The last update I could find was from later that year, when he pitched for the EDA Rhinos in Taiwan, taking the roster spot vacated by Manny Ramirez. In 2012, he told ESPN, "You look back and you think, 'How am I 27 right now, when I feel like I just got drafted?' Where did the years go?"
There are some alternative candidates here. We dodged a bullet by drafting but not signing Barret Loux with the sixth pick in 2010. He ended up signing with the Rangers, but never reached the majors and is now apparently out of baseball entirely. It’s also possible our 2014 pick, Touki Toussaint, #16 overall, could eventually replace Torra. Toussaint currently has an ERA near seven in high-A ball, though won’t turn 21 until later this month. Of the ones who did reach the majors, the likely worst is Casey Daigle (#31, 1999), who posted an ERA for Arizona of 7.16 over 33 games.
LHP. Nick Bierbrodt: #30, 1996
The very first player chosen in a “regular” i.e. non-expansion draft by Arizona, he was given a unique contract that guaranteed him $525,000, with the final figure based on other first-round signings. It eventually cost the D-backs $1,046,000 and MLB banned that kind of deal. He started five games for us in 2001, but with an ERA of 8.22, did not stick around. He was dealt to the Rays that July for Mike Difelice and Albie Lopez. The following June he was shot in a Charleston drive-through, and his major-league career ended in 2004, with a 6.66 ERA. But he got married in 2011, and apparently now has three kids and lives in Boulder, CO, so all’s well that ends well.