The draft is a time of hope and promise, and after it's all over, a scout sits with his staff and marvels over the players the team just picked. Well, sometimes they don't work out as planned, as is the case for most of these 20 first-rounders who didn't make the top 30 in my re-draft of the 2008 class. Some are truly 'busts,' while others just haven't been good enough to fully justify their first-round selections. Some failed because of injuries, some because their tools weren't good enough, some because they just weren't good picks in the first place.
Note: All WAR figures come from the indispensable Baseball-Reference.com.
Beckham is still just 28 and may yet have a career as a utility infielder, but for a player taken first overall, he hasn't come close to expectations. I don't think any one thing slowed Beckham's ascent as a prospect; he struggled on defense, wasn't that advanced as a hitter when he first signed, and had trouble with conditioning and with a suspension for marijuana use. He's still never posted a full-season OBP of .350 or better at any level, and his 22 homers last year nearly doubled his output from any previous season. (Five of those came in the insane three-week stretch he had right after the Rays traded him to Baltimore for pitching prospect Tobias Myers, after which Beckham went back to not producing.)
The Rays were choosing between Beckham and Buster Posey in the 2008 draft, and they chose … not wisely, in hindsight, although at the time Beckham was seen as at least the top prep prospect in the class. (It wasn't a great class for prep hitters, unfortunately; only two high school position players drafted and signed in 2008 have produced at least 10 WAR since then, Eric Hosmer and the out-of-baseball Brett Lawrie.) It turned out to be a pick that altered two franchises, as the Rays' catchers have produced a total of 7.5 WAR from 2009 through today, less than Buster Posey produced by himself … in 2012 alone (7.6).