Bryce Harper has taken Major League Baseball by storm at the tender age of 19 years old, which got us thinking about the most notable teenage debuts in the history of the game. Here are a few of the ballplayers who stood out the most, regardless of era, and with a little help from the rest of their careers.

The trends have changed over time, with younger players like 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall getting more shots early in the last century thanks to a less structured minor league system or wars overseas that drained the talent pool. As time has gone on, the teenage debut has become rarer, which makes Harper's ascendance all the more remarkable.

MLB's Most Famous Teenage Debuts Slideshow


Babe Ruth, 19 years old

OK, so he only pitched in 4 games (started three), but went 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA. It didn't really predict the 18-8 record he'd have the following year, or the fact that he'd go on to be the home run king for about 50 years. Still, it's worth noting that in his initial season he hit zero home runs, and didn't hit into the double digits until he was 23. And he still wound up with 714.


Bob Feller, 17 years old

One of the greatest pitchers of all time, Feller didn't even play an inning of minor league ball. He made his debut at 17 in 1936, going 5-3 with 76 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched, which sets him apart on this list for his success rate on the mound at such a young age. Strikeouts would be a benchmark in a career in which he led the league seven times, including 1946 when he struck out 348. Ted Williams called him the best pitcher that he ever faced, which was appropriate, since both players led their generations on the field and in combat while they served the country overseas.


Joe Nuxhall, 15 years old

Nuxhall still holds the record for the youngest player in MLB history at 15 years, 316 days old. He was called up mainly due to a player shortage because of World War II, but in an age when teenagers were given a shot far more often, he still stood out at 15 years old. He threw 2/3 of an inning for the Reds on June 10, 1944. His abilities stood up as he got older and as the player pool deepened after the war, and Nuxhall played for 16 seasons, owning the Reds record for most games pitched by a left-hander. He also wound up becoming a beloved broadcaster for the club before his death in 2007.


Mickey Mantle, 19 years old

He started as No. 6 (as an ode to his place in the Yankee chain of great players following Ruth - 3, Gehrig - 4, and DiMaggio - 5) and ended his first year with a nasty knee injury during the World Series when DiMaggio called him off of a fly ball in the outfield. But in the 96 games he played that season, he hit .267 with 13 home runs, starting a career that would see him become one of the most beloved Yankees ever with a rookie season that rivals many of those on this list of youngsters.


Al Kaline, 18 years old

The Tiger legend hit .250 with a home run in 30 games for Detroit in 1953, kicking off a Hall of Fame career. Kaline wound up being selected an all-star a staggering 18 times, won one World Series in 1968, and stuck around as a TV commentator for the team after his career ended.


Harmon Killebrew, 19 years old

He made his debut in 1954, but struggled to catch on full-time for five seasons. In nine games he hit an impressive .308 (on just 15 plate attempts) with no home runs, but he'd go on to become the Twins' greatest slugger, belting 573 home runs. Killebrew's case is rare in that you don't often see players yo-yo between the big leagues and minor leagues as much before settling in as stars.


Brooks Robinson, 18 years old

The defensive wizard of third base got his start with Baltimore in 1955, hitting .091 in just six games and 22 plate attempts. He would go on to do a lot better, and stop hundreds from doing as well as they would have if they'd hit the ball at any other third baseman. He raked together 2,848 hits, was selected to the all-star team 18 times, won two World Series, was the American League MVP in 1964 and the World Series MVP in 1970.


Johnny Bench, 19 years old

Sure, he only played in 26 games and hit a paltry .136, but he also only ended up in the Hall of Fame as arguably the greatest catcher of all time. So, hindsight being what it is, it's a pretty notable debut in a career that included a .267 batting average, 389 home runs, two world series titles, 14 all-star appearances, and the 1976 World Series MVP award.


David Clyde, 18 years old

The cautionary tale to end all cautionary tales of the misuse of a young, gifted pitcher. A high school legend in Texas, Clyde went 4-8 with a 5.01 ERA in 1973, which was remarkable, all things considered. But would burn out by the time he was 24 years old. During his brief stint with stardom, the Rangers averaged 27,000 fans during his home starts, and just 6,000 fans the rest of the time. It's widely agreed that ownership's push to sell tickets pushed Clyde's arm to the brink.


Robin Yount, 18 years old

The future Hall of Famer played in 107 games in 1974 for the Brewers, hitting .250 with three home runs. He started as a shortstop, moved to the outfield, and never missed a beat along the way. He was twice the American League MVP, three times an all-star selection and was voted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.


Alan Trammell, 19 years old

Trammell and Lou Whitaker made their big league debuts together in insanely appropriate fashion, and even though Trammell only played in 19 games and hit just .186 in that debut 1977 season, he'd go on to become a Detroit Tiger legend, winning the 1984 World Series and being named MVP. He and Whitaker are considered by many Detroit faithful as Hall of Fame snubs.


Tim Raines, 19 years old

It was a measly six games in 1979 and he never recorded an at-bat, but still scored three runs and stole two bases. He'd go on to a career as perhaps the most overlooked Hall of Fame candidate of all-time, winning three World Series, being nominated to seven all-star teams and hitting .297 over a long career, some of which was marred by his drug use.


Dwight Gooden, 19 years old

The supreme monster of teenage pitching, Gooden blazed his way to the big leagues and put up a 17-9 record with an amazing 2.60 ERA in his first season with the Mets in 1984. While his talent will never be disputed, addiction curbed much of his success in the subsequent years.


Gary Sheffield, 19 years old

In 24 games for the Brewers in 1988, Sheffield hit four home runs and batted .238. Not the greatest start for the man with the fiery temperament, but he'd go on to hit 509 home runs and bat .292 lifetime, while winning a World Series title and being selected to nine all-star games. He also won a batting title just three years after his debut. Quite a finish after that rocky start.


Ken Griffey, Jr., 19 years old

Now this was a debut, and until Harper's current run, the only one that rivals Mantle's rookie numbers. Junior played in 127 games, hit .264 and smacked 16 home runs. He went on to be arguably the greatest star of a generation, and one of the most respected players of all time, hitting 630 home runs with 2,781 hits and a .287 lifetime batting average. He also may or may not have fallen asleep during a game in his final season.


Ivan Rodriguez, 19 years old

Pudge followed in fellow catcher Johnny Bench's footsteps with a teenage debut in 1991, and he was good from the start. He'll always be known for the cannon right arm, but his offense started strong with a .264 batting average to go with 3 home runs in 88 games, also ranking high for the players listed in this group. And Pudge would go on to perhaps a greater career than Bench, hitting .294 with 2,844 hits and 311 home runs to go with a World Series title.


Alex Rodriguez, 18 years old

A-Rod was drafted in 1993 and rocketed through the minor league system. He made his MLB debut on July 8, 1994 at 18 years, 11 months old. He only got to play that year for a month due to the strike and split much of the next season between the Mariners and their AAA affiliate. He hasn't looked back since, arguably becoming one of the greatest hitters of all time.


Andruw Jones, 19 years old

While Jones didn't do much during the 1995 regular season, he took the World Series by storm. He went yard on his first two at bats, becoming the youngest player in history to homer in the World Series at 19 years and 180 days. He was no flash in the pan, earning 10 gold gloves and 5 All-Star Game selection in his career.


Adrian Beltre, 19 years old

It's sort of hard to believe that the now-Texas Rangers third baseman, with his monstrous home runs and pet peeves about being touched on the head, got his start all the way back in 1998. In 77 games, he hit 7 home runs and batted .215. He's hit 322 home runs with a .277 average over his career since then.


Mike Trout, 19 years old

Trout was just two months shy of his 20th birthday when he debuted for the Angels in July of last year, and was considered by most MLB scouts as the best prospect in all of baseball, even besting fellow phenom Bryce Harper. Expect to see him patrolling the outfield in Anaheim for many years to come.


Bryce Harper, 19 years old

Appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16 with the caption "The Chosen One." A scout watching him take batting practice at the tender age of 15 remarked that he would take number one overall spot in the draft that day. Harper has taken the league by storm this year, making fans with his hard-nosed style of play.

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