Tracy Ringolsby

No. 1 picks on the move in blockbuster deals

For first time in history, top selection in three straight Drafts won't debut with team that took him

No. 1 picks on the move in blockbuster deals

The Houston Astros were baseball's Cinderella team in 2015. After losing 416 games the four previous seasons, they advanced to the postseason, and took the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals to the full five games in the American League Division Series before being eliminated.

The Astros want more. And just how much more was apparent Saturday. They included right-handed pitcher Mark Appel, the No. 1 player selected in the 2013 Draft, in the package to the Phillies that brought Houston its new closer, Ken Giles, who took over that ninth-inning role for Philadelphia in late July and converted 15 of 17 saves.

Giles to Astros official; Appel, 4 others dealt to Phillies

With Appel headed to the Phils, for the first time in the 51 years of the Draft, the No. 1 pick in three consecutive Drafts will not make his Major League debut with the team that drafted him.

Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 selection by the D-backs last June, was part of the package Arizona sent to Atlanta to acquire starting pitcher Shelby Miller at the Winter Meetings. Brady Aiken, who went No. 1 overall to the Astros in 2014, did not sign, re-entering the Draft last summer and going to the Indians with the 17th pick.

Callis on Swanson to Braves

Only twice before has the No. 1 pick in back-to-back Drafts not debuted with the team that selected him:

Adrian Gonzalez, No. 1 overall by the Marlins in 2000, was part of a package the Marlins sent to the Rangers to for Ugueth Urbina on July 11, 2003, and Josh Hamilton, who went No. 1 overall to the Rays in 1999, wound up with the Reds through the Rule 5 Draft at the 2006 Winter Meetings.

Shawn Abner, the No. 1 overall by the Mets in 1984, was part of an eight-player trade that brought Kevin McReynolds to the Mets from the Padres on Dec. 11, 1986. And Tim Belcher, the No. 1 pick of the Twins in 1983, didn't sign, and went to the Yankees in the secondary phase of the now-defunct January Draft in 1984. Belcher wound up with Oakland 22 days later, the A's selecting him in a since-eliminated Free Agent compensation system.

No big deal

There were four other players selected No. 1 overall, who did not debut with the team that drafted them, including three who never appeared in the big leagues.

• Danny Goodwin, the No. 1 pick of the White Sox out of high school in 1971, opted to attended Grambling, and he became the only player drafted No. 1 overall twice when, four years later, the Angels selected and signed Goodwin.

• In 1966, right-handed catcher Steven Chilcott went No. 1 to the Mets, who passed on Reggie Jackson. Chilcott spent seven years in the Minor Leagues, including all or part of six seasons at the Class A level and only 39 games at the Triple-A level.

• Left-handed pitcher Brien Taylor went No. 1 to the Yankees in 1991, spent seven years in the Minors, but never advanced past Double-A. He was 13-7 at Double-A Albany-Colonie in 1993, but arm problems limited him in the next five seasons.

• Shortstop Matt Bush went No. 1 to the Padres in 2004 when owner John Moores overruled general manager Kevin Towers and scouting director Bill Gayton, who wanted to select either shortstop Stephen Drew or pitcher Jered Weaver. Bush spent six seasons in the Minors, converting to a pitcher in 2007. He hit .219 and had a 4.27 ERA in a career that ended with his only Double-A exposure with the Tampa Bay affiliate in 2011.


Swanson was allowed to be dealt at the Winter Meetings because of an adjustment to the so-called Pete Incaviglia Rule last summer.

When Incaviglia was drafted by Montreal eighth overall in 1985, he refused to sign unless he was given a big league contract. After Incaviglia held out all summer, he was eventually traded to Texas, which gave Incaviglia the contract and then saw him not only make the big league team out of Spring Training in 1986, but hit cleanup on Opening Day.

Mayo on trading No. 1 pick rule

To limit the power of a Draft choice, baseball adopted a rule that did not allow a player to be traded until one year after he signed his first professional contract.

A year ago, the Padres sent a player to be named to the Nationals as part of a three-team deal that also included the Rays. It was known almost immediately that the player to be named was Trea Turner, the 13th player taken in 2014. Because of the Incaviglia Rule, however, Turner had to spend the spring and opening months of the 2015 season with San Diego before he was officially dealt to Washington on June 14.

Happy anniversary

Saturday was the 85th anniversary of Major League Baseball changing rules so that a ball that bounced into the stands became a ground-rule double instead of a home run. Babe Ruth was credited with 22 home runs on balls bouncing into the stands before the rule change.

Sunday is the 59th anniversary of the Dodgers trading Jackie Robinson to the Giants for Dick Littlefield and $35,000 only to have Robinson announce he was retiring to take a job with Chock Full of Nuts, negating the deal.

Monday is the 30th anniversary of the death of Roger Maris at the age of 51. Maris was suffering from lymphatic cancer.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.