The Top 11: Seattle draft busts of the past 25 years, # 6-2

The first five Seattle draft busts can be found here and they are: 11, Robert Swift/Johan Petro/Mouhamed Sene; 10, Ryan Christianson; 9, Sherell Ford; 8, Rick Mirer; 7, Patrick Lennon. Now, numbers 6-2. Enjoy.

6. Roger Salkeld. Roger Salkeld was the third overall pick of the 1989 Major League Baseball June amateur draft and chances are you don’t know his name. Which is just wrong, because when you’re the third overall pick of any draft, everyone should know your name. Michael Jordan, Carmelo Anthony, Roger Salkeld. What do they have in common? All third overall picks.

Salkeld was the prototype when it came to pitchers. He stood 6’5″, weighed 215 pounds, and could throw the ball fast. Mid-90’s fast, which is just good enough for any front office staff to overlook your flaws. Like the fact that Salkeld was coming straight out high school, a major red flag with any pitcher, no matter how talented. Statistics will tell you that a high percentage of high school pitchers who go straight to the pros eventually burn out due to arm injuries. Unfortunately for the Mariners, Salkeld was no exception.

Salkeld spent three full seasons in the minors before making his Major League Debut for the M’s in 1993, at the age of 22. He appeared in just three games that season, but showed promise by posting a 2.51 ERA in 14 innings pitched. In an injury-plagued ’94 season, Salkeld would appear in his last game as a Mariner. With a deteriorating throwing arm to blame, Salkeld compiled a ghastly 7.17 ERA in 13 starts.
A year later, in May of 1995, Salkeld was shipped to Cincinnati in exchange for veteran pitcher Tim Belcher. Salkeld’s only full season in the big leagues was 1996, with the Reds, and by 2000, at the age of 29, he was forced to quit baseball due to a repeated string of injuries.

5. Scottie Pippen. Pippen wasn’t a bust in the true sense of the word, but from a Seattle perspective, he might very well have been the biggest bust of all-time. The Sonics selected Pippen with the fifth pick in a loaded 1987 NBA draft that produced seven All-Stars (Pippen, David Robinson, Kevin Johnson, Horace Grant, Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, and the late Reggie Lewis). They then immediately sent him to Chicago, committing one of the worst draft-day trades in history.

Pippen was obtained for a mere pittance by the Bulls, who sent the eighth overall pick in the form of center Olden Polynice to the Sonics. From ’87 to 1991, Polynice manned the middle for Seattle. In 1999, perhaps in a last-ditch attempt to justify trading Pippen in the first place, the Sonics brought back Olden for a second go-round and only further exemplified why the Pippen trade was flat-out horrible. Needless to say, Olden Polynice was ok, but definitely not anywhere near the list of the Top 50 NBA players of all time.

Pippen, of course, would become of the Top 50 NBA greats and put together a Hall of Fame career living in the shadow of the greatest player to ever take the court, Michael Jordan. Who knows how he would have panned out if he had remained a Sonic, but a trio of Kemp, Payton, and Pippen doesn’t sound too bad at all.

4. Rich King. If it hasn’t already become apparent, the Sonics and big white guys go together like Lindsay Lohan and dudes. Think of Jack Sikma as Wilmer Valderrama. It was a one-time fling that worked out for a little bit, but in the end the true nature of the beast was revealed. We’ve already mentioned Robert Swift in this list of busts. Then there was the Jim McIlvaine debacle from our list of the “Top 11 Seattle sports villains.” And then of course there’s Rich King.

King was drafted 14th overall by the Sonics in the 1991 NBA Draft. A 7’2″ center from Nebraska, King possessed the size and finesse to be a force in the league. The only problem was he couldn’t stay healthy. He played a career-high 40 games in his rookie season, but most of those minutes were logged in garbage time. An amazing stat from that year: In 213 minutes played over those 40 games, King recorded 42 personal fouls. Unbelievable. He’s like an octopus.

By the 1994-1995 season, King could barely take the court after suffering knee, thumb, back, and foot injuries. He played in two games that season and after his rookie contract expired in the Summer of 1995, King rode off into the sunset having played in just 72 professional games.

King currently lives in Bellevue and was profiled in a “Where Are They Now?” article by the Seattle P-I’s Dan Raley last March.

3. Brian Bosworth. The Boz, in his day, was a lot like actress Keira Knightley. Keira is one of those celebs that for some reason people think is really hot. A Keira Knightley movie comes out and people get excited because, you know, Keira Knightley is in it. But then you see the movie, and it’s not that good. It gets Oscar buzz, but for what reason no one really knows. Keira just bugs you the whole time you’re watching the film because she isn’t what anyone would call a sensational actress. She learns her lines, regurgitates them, collects a paycheck, goes home. And to top it off, she’s also not nearly as attractive as one would think. Someone started spreading the rumor that Keira Knightley is sexy, but that’s not true at all. She’s a stick with a torso and that just shouldn’t do it for anyone.

The Seahawks went after the Keira Knightley of the 1987 supplemental draft, selecting Brian Bosworth out of the University of Oklahoma. The former Sooner linebacker was a good college player, but became larger than life with a constant media circus surrounding him. “The Boz” was an outspoken critic of the NCAA and had been thrown off the OU football team for using steroids and wearing a t-shirt on the sidelines in-game that crossed an ethical line. Despite his trangressions, the Hawks took a chance on Bosworth and quickly watched their investment backfire.

Boz actually had a decent rookie season, making the NFL All-Rookie Team and recording the only four sacks of his career. But by the end of his three-year rookie contract, Bosworth was done with football and had taken his celebrity status to the big screen, starring in a number of “B” action movies. His most notable NFL moment: being embarrassingly run over by a young Bo Jackson on his way to the end zone.

2. Ryan Anderson. They called him the “Little Unit” as soon as he was drafted. Ryan Anderson stood 6’11” and would eventually become the tallest Major League Baseball player in history. It was a foregone conclusion. He paralleled his idol, Randy Johnson, to the utmost degree. Tall, lefthanded, 95-MPH fastball, erratic control. Anderson was raw, but it didn’t matter. As far as the Mariners concerned, he was the next big thing.

Let’s work backwards. Ryan Anderson is currently an aspiring chef in Arizona. How did he get to this point, you ask. The short story: injuries. But the long story is slightly more complicated. Basically, Anderson wasn’t ready for professional baseball, in any way, shape, or form.

Anderson did have the same physical makeup as The Big Unit, but mentally, he was nowhere near Johnson’s level of drive and determination. Johnson, for one, came to the pros via USC. Anderson came straight out of high school. Johnson was surly, but had an unquestioned ability to focus on his job, pitching. Anderson could neither focus nor put on a happy face, and teammates, coaches, and media alike all grew tired of his childish act. Arguably, Anderson’s lack of mental preparation led to his physical deterioration, and after three shoulder surgeries, the Little Unit was forced to retire in 2003, six years after becoming the Mariners 1997 first-round draft pick.

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