In the history of the MLB draft (48 years, since 1965), six #1 overall picks have not played in the Majors. Two of those players are 2011 and 2012's 1.1 are Gerrit Cole and Carlos Correa, who haven't played in the Majors due to the fact that they're too young at this point. This leaves four 1.1s who just haven't played in the Majors. What happened to them? These are your cautionary tales.
1966 - Steven Chilcott
In the second-ever Major League Baseball draft, the Mets passed on a guy named Reggie Jackson to sign catcher Steve Chilcott (because, according to an interview with Jackson in Dayn Perry's biography, Jackson had a white girlfriend - which has been denied) Based on a Mets' scouting report from Casey Stengel, they gave Chilcott a $75,000 bonus and he reported to Marion in the Appalachian League, where he hit .226 in 14 games. He advanced to Auburn in the New York-Penn League, where he hit .155 in 25 games. He spent 1967 in the Florida State League where, as an 18-year old, he hit .290/.370/.467. In his 79th game of the season, Chilcott was on second base when the pitcher attempted a pick-off throw. Chilcott dove into the bag with such force that it dislocated his shoulder and ended his season - he played in 26 games total over the next two seasons. Chilcott was released by the Mets in 1971. He played in the Expos and Yankees system until 1972 when, at the age of 24, he retired.
1991 - Brien Taylor
Drafted with the 1st overall pick by the Yankees, who offered him a $300,000 bonus. Taylor and his family, advised by Scott Boras, advised that they hold out for "Todd Van Poppel money" ($1.2m). Steinbrenner was suspended at the time of the negotiations, but allegedly said that, if the Yankees let Taylor get away, "they should be shot." He signed a $1.55m offer the day before classes were to begin.
Brien Taylor was the #1 prospect heading into the 1992 season. He went 6-8 with a 2.57 ERA, striking out 187 batters in 161.1IP. As the #2 prospect heading into 1993, Taylor went 13-7 with a 3.48 ERA in Double-A. But during the off-season, on December 18, 1993 got into a fight defending his brother (the details are - predictably - sketchy, and suffered a torn labrum and dislocated left shoulder. Though he made it back to the minors in 1995, he only 108.2IP in 41 games from 1995-1998 with serious control problems (11K:43BB in 16.1IP in 1996).
He was released by the Yankees after the 1998 season and finished his career in 2000 with Cleveland's Single-A team in Columbus, where he allowed 5H/11R (8ER), 2K:9BB in 2.2IP. Taylor returned to North Carolina where he worked for UPS. He was charged with misdemeanor child abuse in January 2005, and was sentenced to 38 months in prison in November 2012 for cocaine trafficking.
Matt Bush - 2004
Selected by the Padres at 1.1 in 2004, originally as a shortstop, for $3.15m. The Padres wanted Stephen Drew or Jered Weaver, but San Diego owner John Moores wouldn't negotiate with Scott Boras, who represented both Drew and Weaver. But before Bush ever took the field, he was involved in a June 20 fight outside a Peoria, AZ bar when a bouncer wouldn't allow him into a nightclub, and arrested on one felony charge and three misdemeanor charges. The felony charge was dropped and Bush was allowed to join Rookie-league Peoria.
In 29 games for Peoria and Low-A Eugene, Bush would hit .192/.296/.253. Joining Fort Wayne of the Midwest League in 2005, Bush hit .221/.279/.276 in 126 games. He would play in 22 games in 2006 before converting to a pitcher, playing 36 games in 2007 (seven as a pitcher) before tearing a ligament in his elbow, requiring Tommy John and missing 2008. He was designated for assignment in February 2009, after allegations arose of an incident in a Granite Hills High School campus of assault involving members of the Granite Hills boys lacrosse team. According to a witness, Bush was drunk, threw a golf club into the dirt, picked up and threw a freshman lacrosse player and hit another player before driving over a curb when leaving and yelling "I'm Matt (F***ing) Bush!" The Padres traded him to the Blue Jays later that month.
At a party in Dunedin, Florida - home of the Blue Jays' Spring Training facility - on March 30, 2009, Bush reportedly threw a baseball at a woman's head and banged on her car window after he accused her of drawing markings. He was released the next day.
On January 28, 2010 Bush signed a minor-league deal with the Rays. Bush played in 10 games for the Rays Rookie-level and High-A teams. In 2011, Bush pitched for Double-A Montgomery, posting a 4.83 ERA/1.43 WHIP, and was set to join Triple-A Durham for 2012.
But on March 22, 2012 Bush (allegedly) stole his roommate's SUV, got drunk, rushed the stage at a strip club, got kicked out, and hit a 72-year old motorcyclist, collapsing his lung, breaking his back, ribs, and wrist, leaving him with a brain hemorrhage. Reportedly, Bush ran over the head of the man he had just hit as he peeled out. His blood alcohol level was .18. Bush was charged with three felonies and is currently serving a 51-month jail sentence.
Tim Beckham - 2008
Drafted out of Griffin High School by the Rays, where he was teammates with Lancaster's Telvin Nash, Beckham is a less-terrifying/depressing tale. He's just not hitting all that well. Signing for $6.15m, Beckham spent all but two games in the Appalachian League, where he hit .243/.297/.345. In Low-A in 2009, Beckham hit .275/.328/.389 - the hitting and OBP had improved, but the power was lacking (33 doubles, five homers).
Still, he advanced to High-A Charlotte in 2010, where he hit .256/.346/.359. He was hitting .275/.339/.395 for Double-A Montgomery in 2011 before being promoted to Triple-A Durham. In 24 games he hit .255/.282/.462 for a career-high 12 HRs. Beckham took a step back in 2012, posting a .686 OPS while getting suspended for 50 games for a second positive test of a drug of abuse. Currently, in 49 games in his third stint at Triple-A, Beckham has a .719 OPS (though he did have a pretty sweet home plate move a few days ago). He's just 23, but John Sickels said of Beckham, "He looks like a utility guy to me, which would be just fine if he'd been a ninth round pick, not someone the Rays invested $6,150,000 in."