The MLB draft features all of baseball's brightest prospects … some brighter than others. While most teams (and fans) expect high-round picks to contribute, what about the guys who go deeper in the draft? Mike Piazza, for example, was taken by the Dodgers in the 62nd round. His production in 16 seasons (427 homers) wasn't bad for a guy taken with pick No. 1,390. We take a look at some of the late-round picks who developed into today's stars. — Tracy Ringolsby
A native of the Dominican, Polanco was draft eligible because he attended school in the United States (Miami Dade JC). By 1997, he was in the big leagues as a utility player, but eventually played himself into an everyday role. Primarily a second baseman initially, he's started at all four infield positions and became the regular third baseman when he joined Philadelphia in 2010. He won two Gold Gloves at second and one at third, the only player to have done that at two infield position. He's also a two-time All-Star and has won a Silver Slugger award.
Dan Uggla, 2B, 11th round, Diamondbacks, 2001
Lack of respect? Even Arizona, the team that drafted Uggla, left him unprotected after his fifth year in pro ball, allowing Florida to pick him up for $50,000 in the December 2005 winter draft. Given the starting second baseman’s job for Florida in 2006, all he's done has become one of the game's premier power-hitting middle infielders. A two-time All-Star and the winner of a Silver Slugger award, Uggla, now with Atlanta, has hit 27 or more home runs in each of his six full big-league seasons and has never driven in fewer than 82 runs. He won’t win a Gold Glove, but he's enough of a threat with the bat that teams will overlook that.
Brandon Beachy, RHP, undrafted, 2008
A corner infielder at Indiana Weslyan, Beachy was pitching in a summer league when Atlanta scout Gene Kerns stopped by for a game and liked what he saw. It took a few days to persuade the Braves front office to spend $5,000 on Beachy, but he agreed to terms in 2008. By September 2010 he had made his big-league debut, and then he won a spot in the Braves rotation in spring 2011. Used as a starter/reliever in the minors, he was 12-4 with a 2.54 ERA in 77 games (22 starts) and went 7-7 with a 3.68 ERA in 25 starts in 2011. Two months into 2012 he was 5-3 and leading the majors with a 1.77 earned-run average.
Heath Bell, RHP, undrafted, 1998
The Mets didn’t realize they had such a bargain. Drafted in the 69th round by Tampa Bay after his freshman year at Santa Ana College in 1997, Bell opted to return to school and signed as an undrafted free agent with the Mets the next year. After eight years in the Mets farm system, he finally got to the big leagues in August 2004. Following the 2006 season, he was shipped, along with Royce Ring, to the Padres for John Adkins and Ben Johnson. A set-up man for Trevor Hoffman initially, he never blinked when asked to replace the all-time saves leader in the ninth inning. He signed with the Miami Marlins as a free agent before the 2012 season.
James Shields, RHP, 16th round, Rays, 2000
Leave it to the Rays to find a diamond in the rough in the draft. Shields struggled during his first few years in the league, but has taken his game to a new level. Now, overall pick No. 466 finds himself as the No. 2 guy in Tampa Bay's strong rotation. He was an All-Star in 2011.
Russell Martin, C, 17th round, Dodgers, 2002
The Dodgers plucked Martin with the 511th overall pick in '02. He enjoyed five successful seasons in Los Angeles before joining the Yankees before the 2011 season. Martin hit 18 home runs in just 125 games last year in New York. He's a three-time All-Star and has won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, 17th round, Rangers, 2003
Kinsler, overall pick No. 496, enjoyed a quick path to the big leagues, advancing to the majors the same year he was drafted (2003) and breaking out as a player the next season. So far in his career, Kinsler's been selected to two All-Star teams and is considered to be one of the top second basemen in the game.
Jose Bautista, OF, 20th round, Pirates, 2000
Jose Bautista bounced around quite a bit after being drafted originally by Pittsburgh. He had stints with the Orioles, Rays, Royals and Pirates before finally finding a home with the Blue Jays, where he's blossomed into a star. In 2010, he set a Jays record with 54 long balls — a pretty good bargain for pick No. 599.
Mark Buehrle, LHP, 38th round, White Sox, 1998
Lefty Mark Buehrle, who signed with the Miami Marlins as a free agent before the 2012 season, threw baseball's 18th perfect game as a member of the White Sox in 2009 against the Tampa Bay Rays. He also had a no-hitter in 2007. Not bad for the 1,139th pick.
Albert Pujols, 1B/3B, 13th round, St. Louis, 1999
Pujols is one of the best hitters in the history of the game, having not hit fewer than 30 home runs in any of his big-league seasons. He’s a nine-time All-Star who was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2001 and the NL MVP in 2005, 2008 and 2009. He won World Series with the Cards in 2008 and 2011. He was signed by the Angels as a free agent before the 2012 season, and while he struggled early, expect his numbers to be up to his usual standards by the end of the season.