Texas baseball has produced 31 Major League Baseball first-round picks, a few of these selections went on to great careers and some never made it to the show. Other players weren’t first-round picks, but still made it to the big leagues and played for decades.
But who are the 10 best MLB draft picks in Texas baseball history?
Here are our thoughts:
10. Bruce Ruffin, 34th pick of the 1985 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies
Ruffin converted 63 saves in his career which lasted for 12 seasons. He played six seasons with the Phillies and was part of the first Colorado Rockies team in 1993. Ruffin finished seventh in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1986 when he went 9-4 with a 2.46 ERA. He won 11 games the next season, but never won more than six after that. Still, the longevity and the conversion to a reliever gave him a solid career.
9. Keith Moreland, 156th pick of the 1975 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies
Moreland is the all-time leader in home runs by a Longhorn pro at 121. He helped the Phillies win the 1980 World Series. Moreland was a career .279 hitter and drove in 674 runs. He played four seasons for the Phillies before moving to the Chicago Cubs where he spent six seasons. Moreland finished his career in 1989 after playing for five different clubs.
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8. Dave Chalk, 10th pick of the 1972 draft by the California Angels
Chalk played nine seasons after making the big leagues in 1973. He made two All-Star games in 1974 and 1975 and had a career WAR of 8.4, which is 10th among Longhorn pro ball players. Chalk spent six seasons with the Angels before moving to Texas. He finished his career with two seasons as a member of the Kansas City Royals.
7. Dennis Cook, 446th pick of the 1985 draft by the San Francisco Giants
Cook may not be the best player to ever be drafted from UT, but he is the best story. Cook was the 446th pick but manged to pitch in the majors for 15 seasons and earn 64 wins. He was a journeyman in his career, pitching for nine teams. In 1990 he moved from the rotation to the bullpen that allowed him to pitch 12 more seasons. He won 10 games in 1999 for the New York Mets, which reached the National League Championship Series. He had a career ERA of 3.91 and a WAR if 11.0 with 739 strikeouts.
6. Brandon Belt 147th pick of the 2009 draft by the San Francisco Giants
Belt is seven seasons into his career and has won two World Series titles and was a 2016 National League All-Star. Belt has become an entrenched starter for the Giants, who signed him to a large extension. Belt has a career WAR of 18.4 and 91 career home runs. Those 91 home runs put him third all-time among Longhorn pros.
5. Shane Reynolds, 72nd pick of the 1989 draft the by the Houston Astros
Astro fans will remember Reynolds for being a mainstay in the rotation for nine seasons, He won 19 games in 1998 and twice led the majors in starts. He finished his 13-season career in 2004 with 114 wins, a 4.09 ERA and 1,403 strikeouts. He had a career WAR of 18.
4. Greg Swindell, 2nd pick of the 1986 draft by the Cleveland Indians
Swindell is one of the greatest Longhorns of all-time and went onto to have a solid MLB career, playing 17 seasons, seven of which came with the Indians. He won 123 games and had a career ERA of 3.86. He was a member of the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks that won the World Series and was an All-Star for the Indians in 1989.
3. Huston Street, 40th pick of the 2004 draft by the Oakland Athletics
The A’s, sticking to its Moneyball principles of selecting talented college pitchers, took the College World Series hero Huston Street and it just maybe one of the best draft picks Billy Beane ever made. When it’s all said and done, Street could be the second-most accomplished Longhorn pro ever. Never a starter, Street has been one of baseball’s best closers from the very beginning of his career. He has 324 saves all-time and a career 2.97 ERA and a career 14.3 WAR. Street won the 2005 Rookie of the Year and finished 23rd in MVP voting. Twice he’s been an All-Star.
2. Burt Hooton, 2nd pick of the 1971 draft by the Chicago Cubs
A member of the 1981 World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers (he was the National League Championship Series MVP), Hooton is the second-greatest Longhorn draft pick and one of the best Longhorns ever. Hooton finished second in the NL Cy Young voting in 1978 when he won a career-high 19 games. He won 151 games in his career, second most among Longhorn pros and had a career WAR of 35.9. He struck out 1,491 batters, Hooton pitched in three World Series in 1978, 1977 and 1981.
1. Roger Clemens, 19th pick of the 1983 draft by the Boston Red Sox
You have to feel bad for the 18 executives that passed on, arguably, the greatest pitcher to ever step on the mound. No matter what you think of Roger Clemens, he is the greatest professional athlete to ever hail from the University of Texas (name someone else, seriously, name someone else). The Rocket won 354 games, 9th all-time. He has a WAR of 140.3, eighth all-time. He has 4,672 strikeouts, third all-time. Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards, won the 1986 MVP, led his league in ERA seven times, was an All-Star Game MVP. As an 11-time All-Star, he won two World Series titles.
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