Five college relievers were drafted in the first round of this year's draft. Unlike starting pitchers or position players, relievers drafted out of college tend to zoom to the majors quickly, like these five recent examples.
1. Chad Cordero
2003, Montreal Expos »
In June, Cordero was closing College World Series games for Cal State Fullerton. By August, after being the 20th overall pick, he was pitching in the majors -- after just 26 minor league innings. By summer 2004 he was the Expos' closer, and by 2005 -- with the team now in Washington -- he was an all-star. Now in his sixth big league season, Cordero has been out most of the year with a torn muscle in his side.
2. Huston Street
2004, Oakland Athletics »
The A's took Street, the University of Texas closer, with the 40th overall pick and waited until the following April to put him on their big league roster. He became their full-time closer in June 2005 and has kept the job (when healthy) ever since.
3. Joey Devine
2005, Atlanta Braves »
Devine, an N.C. State product, was also in the majors within two months of being drafted. Though his path to establishing himself was rockier--he gave up grand slams in his first two games, plus a walk-off homer in the deciding game of the NLDS, and spent time in the minors in both 2006 and 2007--he is now one of the top relievers in baseball, sporting a 1.23 ERA for Oakland.
4. Joe Smith
2006, New York Mets »
Like Street, Smith, a third-round pick out of Wright State, was in the majors by the following Opening Day. Though he has shuttled between the majors and minors since then, the sidearmed right-hander owns a 3.51 ERA for the Mets.
5. Ryan Wagner
2003, Cincinnati Reds »
The 14th overall pick out of the University of Houston made it to the majors even quicker than Cordero or Street -- getting the call in July, after only nine minor league innings. But since then . . . yikes: He spent part of 2004 and most of 2006 in the minors, and -- after being traded to the Nationals -- is now recovering from shoulder surgery.