Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (2023)

There is no shortage of professional athletes who shined in more than one sport before turning pro. Some were so good in two sports that they were drafted to the top ranks in multiple sports. Here, we display 21 athletes from other sports who were drafted by MLB teams. Danny Ainge and Charlie Ward stand tall as the lone representatives from the NBA, but the rest of these two-sport athletes found varying degrees of success in the NFL.

1 of 21

Danny Ainge, Toronto Blue Jays - 1977

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (1)

Rich Pilling / Getty Images

The former Celtics guard was drafted in the 15th round of the 1977 MLB Draft, and he even played 211 games over three seasons for the Blue Jays. After hitting only .220, it's clear that he made the right choice by sticking with basketball.

2 of 21

Dan Marino, Kansas City Royals - 1979

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (2)

Justin K. Aller / Getty Images

Marino had a promising future as a pitcher after starring in high school. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 1979 draft, but instead he played quarterback at Pitt and went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Miami Dolphins.

3 of 21

John Elway, New York Yankees - 1981

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (3)

David Madison / Getty Images

Elway used the Yankees as leverage for his NFL career, getting drafted in the second round of the 1981 draft by the Bronx Bombers (six picks ahead of Tony Gwynn) after playing both sports at Stanford. He was earlier drafted in the 18th round by the Royals in 1979. Some felt he would have been an All-Star had he stuck to baseball.

4 of 21

Jack Del Rio, Toronto Blue Jays - 1981

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (4)

Collegiate Images

A Pro Bowl linebacker and former NFL head coach for the Jaguars and Raiders, Del Rio was selected in the 22nd round of the 1981 MLB Draft by the Blue Jays. He played both baseball and football at USC after being drafted.

5 of 21

D.J. Dozier, Detroit Tigers - 1983

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (5)

Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

A bust as a first-round running back pick by the Vikings in 1987, Dozier was also drafted by the Tigers in the 1983 MLB Draft. He didn't sign but was later signed by the Mets in 1990 and made it up to the majors in 1992.

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Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (6)

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

Teams doubted that Jackson would play baseball, but the Royals took a flier on him in the fourth round of the 1986 draft. He made their risk look brilliant, making the MLB All-Star Game in 1989 and finishing his MLB career with 141 homers. Of course, Jackson also had four strong years with the Raiders before suffering a hip injury.

7 of 21

Deion Sanders, New York Yankees - 1988

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (7)

Jeff Carlick / Getty Images

As accomplished as Sanders was as a football player, it's easy to forget how good he was on the diamond. Drafted in the 30th round of the 1988 MLB Draft, Sanders appeared in nine MLB seasons between 1989-2001. He swiped 186 bases over his career as an outfielder for the Yankees, Braves, Reds and Giants.

8 of 21

Charlie Ward, New York Yankees - 1994

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (8)

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Ward's multi-sport athleticism is legendary, as the Heisman Trophy winner in 1993, the 26th overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, an 18th-round pick by the Yankees in 1994 and an accomplished amateur tennis player. Ward chose basketball and played in the NBA from 1994-2005.

9 of 21

Ricky Williams, Philadelphia Phillies - 1995

(Video) Can ANYONE be drafted? ⚾️ #baseball #baseballlife

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (9)

Elsa / Getty Images

The former Heisman Trophy winner and enigmatic NFL running back was drafted in the eighth round by the Phillies in 1995 and played four years in the minors. He struggled to hit, finishing his pro career as a .211 hitter, but did swipe 46 bases in 170 games.

10 of 21

Tom Brady, Montreal Expos - 1995

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (10)

Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

The Golden Boy of the Patriots was drafted in the 18th round of the 1995 draft out of high school by the Montreal Expos. He opted to attend Michigan as a quarterback instead.

11 of 21

Daunte Culpepper, New York Yankees - 1995

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (11)

Tim Umphrey / Getty Images

Culpepper was a tremendous athlete in high school, and he was selected in the 26th round by the Yankees in 1995. He opted to play football at UCF instead of baseball.

12 of 21

Drew Henson, New York Yankees - 1998

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (12)

Rick Stewart / Getty Images

A former backup quarterback in the NFL, Henson was considered the Yankees' third baseman of the future during his minor league career. He only managed to play eight MLB games.

13 of 21

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Michael Vick, Colorado Rockies - 2000

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (13)

Rich Pilling / Getty Images

The selection of Vick by the Rockies in 2000 was truly bizarre, as the accomplished quarterback at Virginia Tech hadn't played baseball since eighth grade. He predictably opted to stick with football and was taken first overall by the Falcons in 2001.

14 of 21

Cedric Benson, Los Angeles Dodgers - 2001

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (14)

Joe Robbins / Getty Images

The former first-round back of the Bears was also drafted in the 12th round of the 2001 MLB Draft by the Dodgers. He played in only nine pro games in the minors.

15 of 21

Jake Locker, Los Angeles Angels - 2009

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (15)

Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images

The Angels selected Locker in the 10th round of the 2009 draft after previously drafting him out of high school in the 46th round in 2006, but he went on to play quarterback at Washington and became a first-round NFL pick in 2011.

16 of 21

Colin Kaepernick, Chicago Cubs - 2009

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (16)

Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

The now controversial Kaepernick was drafted in the 43rd round of the 2009 draft by the Cubs after earning all-state honors twice as a high school pitcher in California. He followed his football dreams instead, becoming Nevada's starting quarterback.

17 of 21

Eric Decker, Minnesota Twins - 2009

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (17)

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Alex Trautwig / Getty Images

Decker was a tremendous football, basketball and baseball player in high school. He was drafted twice — by the Brewers in the 39th round in 2008 and by the Twins in the 27th round in 2009. He also played outfield at the University of Minnesota before taking his talents to the NFL.

18 of 21

Russell Wilson, Colorado Rockies - 2010

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (18)

Gregg Forwerck / Getty Images

The Seattle quarterback's MLB past is well-documented, spending two seasons in the Rockies organization as a second baseman after being selected in the fourth round in 2010. He only hit .229 over those two seasons but was later selected by the Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft.

19 of 21

Golden Tate, San Francisco Giants - 2010

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (19)

Mark Cunningham / Getty Images

Tate was drafted twice by MLB teams — in the 42nd round of the 2007 draft by the Diamondbacks and the 50th round of the 2010 draft by the Giants. He had an accomplished career as a baseball player at Notre Dame but was even better at football before getting drafted in the second round by the Seahawks.

20 of 21

Jameis Winston, Texas Rangers - 2012

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (20)

Mickey Adair / Hulton Archive

Winston was taken in the 15th round by the Rangers in 2012 but stuck as a multi-sport athlete at Florida State. Before going first overall in the 2015 NFL Draft to the Bucs, Winston won the Heisman Trophy and served as the Seminoles' closer.

21 of 21

Johnny Manziel, San Diego Padres - 2014

Athletes from other sports drafted by MLB teams (21)

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Jason Miller / Getty Images

Manziel didn't play baseball in college, but that didn't stop the Padres from selecting him in the 28th round of the 2014. Predictably, he opted to stick with football, though his NFL career has been brief to date.


What percent of draftees make it to the MLB? ›

The Chances of a Drafted Baseball Player Making the Major Leagues: A Quantitative Study
Played in the major leagues48366.7 (of players signed)
High school pitchers9713.4
High school position players10214.1
College pitchers16222.4
16 more rows

How many players get drafted in the MLB Draft? ›

With the 20-round formula, a total of 614 players are selected, although not all of them will end up playing in the MLB, as some may decide to choose different paths, like staying in college baseball.

Who is one of the few athletes have been drafted by NBA NFL and MLB teams? ›

Hailed as one of the greatest athletes ever, Dave Winfield was drafted by the San Diego Padres (MLB), Atlanta Hawks (NBA), Utah Stars (ABA) and Minnesota Vikings (NFL).

Has anyone gone straight to MLB from draft? ›

That's not to say, however, that going straight from the Draft to The Show never happens. It's just very rare. How rare? Consider this: Since the MLB Draft began in June 1965, only 23 players have gone from being selected via that process straight to MLB without first playing in the Minors.

How many high school players make it to the MLB? ›

For those who dream of being a big league baseball player the numbers are staggering. Approximately 1 in every 200 high school baseball players or . 05% will be drafted by a major league team into the minor leagues. Only 5.6% of high school players advance on to college to play at some level of college baseball.

What percentage of drafted players make the team? ›

It is awe-inspiring when you think of it. These young men have won the lottery, right? Well, not quite yet. Having already been in the select 0.01% of the top 1.6% of the top 7.3% of the nation, the chosen players might be dismayed to learn that only 30% of those drafted will ever make it onto an NFL roster.

How hard is it to be in the MLB Draft? ›

Less than eleven in 100, or about 10.5 percent, of NCAA senior male baseball players will get drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. Approximately one in 200, or approximately 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team.

What college sends the most players to the MLB? ›

Vanderbilt stands heads and shoulders above every school when it comes to producing big leaguers in 2021.

What state produces the most MLB players? ›

1. California

California produced 21.8 percent of the 1,091 players born in the United States who suited up for at least one big league game in 2021, including 34 players who tallied at least 2.0 WAR.

Who is the only athlete ever to be both an MLB All-Star and an NFL Pro Bowler? ›

Bo Jackson

Jackson is one of the greatest all-around athletes of all time, smashing prodigious home runs and rushing for jaw-dropping touchdowns. Playing for the Royals, White Sox and Angels from 1986-94, and the NFL's Raiders from 1987-90, Bo is the only athlete ever to be both an MLB All-Star and an NFL Pro Bowler.

Who is an athlete for both NFL and MLB? ›

In 1987, Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson played for both the Los Angeles Raiders and the Kansas City Royals, becoming the first player to play in both MLB and the NFL since the 1960s. Jackson played eight years in Major League Baseball and four years in the NFL.

Who are the only six athletes ever to be drafted by three professional sports? ›

He is one of five players ever to be drafted by three professional sports (the others being George Carter, Noel Jenke, Mickey McCarty and Dave Logan) and one of three athletes along with Carter and McCarty to be drafted by four leagues.

Has anyone been drafted from high school to MLB? ›

Tim Conroy and Brian Milner are the most recent players to go straight from high school to MLB, having debuted on the same day in 1978. Dave Winfield is the most recent player to jump directly to MLB and subsequently be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Has a MLB player ever skipped the minors? ›

Drafted Players Who Advanced Directly to Major League Baseball | Baseball Almanac. The Major League baseball began its free agent draft in 1965. Twenty-three ballplayers have been drafted, then advanced directly to the Major Leagues without first playing on a Minor League team.

What MLB players skipped Triple A? ›

Miguel Cabrera, Adrián Beltré **and Brian McCann each skipped Triple-A entirely while younger players like **Francisco Lindor, *Kris Bryant *and *Mookie Betts *seemed to have more of an even split between the two levels: What does this prove going forward?

What is the percentage to become a MLB player? ›

Pitchers have a 21 percent chance of making it to the big leagues, while position players sit at a 6.8 percent probability. Moreover, Bleacher Report estimates that around 66 percent of first-round draft picks will eventually compete at the MLB level, signifying the steep drop-off in probability for undrafted players.

How many players get drafted in MLB a year? ›

How many Players are Selected during the MLB Draft? Last year in July 2022, a total of 620 players were selected from 20 MLB draft rounds. 18 players were drafted in each round, along with compensation picks. Increase your chances of selection by knowing these 14 Instructive Tips on How to be a Better Baseball Hitter.

What is the average career war in MLB? ›

An average full-time position player is worth about 2 WAR, while average bench players contribute much less (typically between 0 and 1 WAR). Average starting pitchers also are worth around 2 WAR, while relief pitchers are considered superb if they crack +1 WAR.

How many people get drafted per round? ›

All 32 NFL clubs are allotted seven draft picks each year: One in each round, based on the reverse order of the final standings of the recently completed season. However, because teams are allowed to trade picks and move up and down the board, many clubs end up with more or fewer than their seven original picks.


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