With the 2016 MLB Draft starting in a few hours, I thought it would be interesting to rate and compare the past ten years. Each year has produced some of the game’s best players, all-stars, award winners, and potential future Hall of Famers. Here’s the 2006 to 2015 drafts, from least to most impressive.
It might not be fair to rate the most recent draft class as the least impressive. I’m rating this draft based on what we’ve seen in the majors, and since no one from this class has made their debut, it’s kind of hard to rate them among some of the game’s stars. Many of these guys are top prospects and will have a major impact on the game within the next few years. The draft last year was headlined by the selection of three shortstops with the first three picks. Dansby Swanson was picked first by the Diamondbacks, Alex Bregman by the Astros, and Brendan Rodgers by the Rockies. Swanson was traded to the Braves in the offseason in the Shelby Miller trade and is the center piece to the Braves rebuild and future. Both Bregman and Rodgers may have to shift positions if they wish to make it with their big league clubs, as both teams have young star shortstops, especially in Houston with Carlos Correa (2015 AL ROY). The Rockies have Trevor Story, one of the great rookie stories of the year intrenched at short for the foreseeable future.
Similar to the 2015 class, many of the top picks and prospects in the 2013 draft have yet to contribute at the major league level, which puts them at a disadvantage. The first overall pick went to highly coveted Stanford pitcher Mark Appel with the Astros, who failed to sign the year before after being the eighth overall pick with the Pirates. Appel has yet to make his debut, as injuries have set him back. He was traded in the offseason to the Phillies as a part of the Ken Giles trade and is currently ranked the Phillies 4th overall prospect, according to MLB.com. The gem of the draft on draft night has quickly turned into one of the top ten players in the game. Kris Bryant was the coveted bat in the 2013 draft and really is the only significant player so far from 2013. He took the league by storm and was named the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015 and is on his way to his second all-star appearance in just his second season. He’s the face of the energized Cubs and looks like the potential face of baseball. The San Diego University alum and Las Vegas native third baseman has a career line of .278 40 HR 142 RBI .866 OPS in just 208 games. Jon Gray is pitching in the Rockies rotation, but hasn’t lived up to his third overall selection. Top prospects also taken in this draft include Phillies’ SS JP Crawford (#3 overall), Indians’ OF Clint Frazier (#23 overall), Yankees’ OF Aaron Judge (#27 overall), Mets’ 1B Dom Smith (#46 overall), and Giants SS Christian Arroyo (#76 overall) all are key pieces in their clubs’ future.
The oldest, lowest rated draft has to go to 2008. The first overall pick went to the newly named Tampa Bay Rays and they took what they hoped to be their shortstop of the future in Tim Beckham. Off the field and drug issues kept Beckham from developing into a star, and he didn’t make his debut until September 2013. He’s currently on the Rays’ roster, but is really only a utility guy and bench player. He’s not exactly what the Rays hoped for, and is considered by many to be the most disappointing first overall picks since Matt Bush with the Padres in 2004. Where the Rays were disappointed, the Giants and Royals certainly were not. With the third overall pick, the Royals picked their future gold-glove first baseman and all-star. Eric Hosmer has been pivotal in the Royals recent dominance, which has seen the Royals to two AL pennants in 2014 and 2015 and their first World Series since 1985. But the most impactful pick might have come with the fifth overall selection with catcher Buster Posey. Posey is the face of the Giants and did something that no other Giant had done in San Francisco, winning the World Series. In fact, Posey led the Giants to three World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014, the closest thing we’ve seen to a dynasty since the late 90s Yankees. Posey is by far the game’s best catcher and the leader of one of the league’s best teams. In fact, he and some of his Giants’ teammates are tied with David Ortiz for the most World Series wins by an active player. Other notable selections include 3B Pedro Alvarez (2nd overall with the Pirates), IF Brett Lawrie (16th overall with the Brewers), 2B Logan Forsythe (46th overall with the Padres), P Tyson Ross (58th overall with the Atheltics), CP Craig Kimbrel (96th overall with the Braves), SS Brandon Crawford (117th overall with the Giants), and IF Dee Gordon (127th with the Dodgers).
The draft class from 2014 is the highest rated of the more recent draft classes. 2014 has been great for quickly developed impact pitchers and bats. While many of the draft class continue to develop, five key players help this draft shine. The first overall pick went to high school southpaw Brady Aiken with the Astros. He failed to sign a contract with Houston, and ended up being drafted in 2015 by the Indians with the seventeenth overall pick. Three impactful pitchers were taken in 2014 that have already contributed at the major league level. Carlos Rondon was drafted 3rd overall with the White Sox and is currently with the team in their pitching rotation. Aaron Nola was taken by the Phillies at seventh overall and he too is in their big league rotation. The final impactful pitcher was the first to make his debut. Brandon Finnegan was drafted 17th overall in June with the Royals and by October was pitching for the team in the World Series against the Giants. He was traded in 2015 to the Reds in the Johnny Cueto deal, and is currently the ace for the Cincinnati Reds. Two impactful outfielders were drafted in 2014 and they met each other in the 2015 NLCS. Kyle Schwarber was taken first out of the two, being taken as a catcher with the fourth overall pick by the Cubs. He made his debut in the summer of 2015 and was one of the most feared hitters in the Cubs lineup, often being compared to Babe Ruth. Schwarber unfortunately suffered a season ending injury just three games into 2016, but many anticipate his return in 2017. The other impactful outfielder was taken tenth overall by the Mets and is named Michael Conforto. The Seattle native continues to patrol left field in the Queens and led the Mets to the World Series in his rookie year of 2015. Top infield prospect for the Nationals Trea Turner was also drafted in 2014. Considering it’s only been two years since the draft, it’s even more impressive what these guys have done. Time will tell to see other impactful guys from this talented class.
2011 is going to be remembered as a class that produced three aces and some quality outfielders. Gerrit Cole was taken with the first pick by the Pirates and has been their ace in their recent years of dominance. Sonny Gray of the Athletics was taken 18th overall, and even though he’s struggle this year, he’s still one of the best righthand pitchers in the game. The best pitcher from this draft was arguably taken with the 14th pick, that being Jose Fernandez. He was the 2013 NL rookie of the year. He’s one of the best pitchers of 2016, pitching a 9-2 record with a 2.29 ERA with 110 strike outs and a WHIP of 1.06. Joe Panik was taken by the Giants with the 29th pick and was a key cog behind the team’s World Series win in 2014. The draft was not short on quality outfielders, as the Astros snagged George Springer with the 12th pick, and the Red Sox picked up both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts that year. Both are key reasons why the Red Sox are contenders this year. Other notable picks include IF Anthony Rendon (6th), IF Javier Baez (9th), 2B Kolten Wong (22nd) rookie sensation SS Trevor Story (45th), Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks (263rd), Red Sox 1B/3B Travis Shaw (292nd), and speedy center fielder Billy Burns (967th). This is definitely the best draft for the Red Sox in memory and produced some of the games best players
The 2006 class has turned out to be a class of either stars or busts. The first overall pick went to Royals with pitcher Luke Hochevar. Although injuries kept him from living up to the hype of a future ace, Hochevar has converted into being one of the most reliable relievers for the Royals great ‘pen. Evan Longoria was taken third overall by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays and has become the face of the franchise. The third baseman debuted two years later in 2008, becoming an all-star, winning the rookie of the year, helping Tampa Bay to their first winning season in franchise history on their way to the AL pennant. They lost to the Phillies in the World Series, but Longoria has easily become one of the games best and most dependable third basemen in the past decade. He may not get all the respect and coverage as other guys, but his impact on his franchise cannot be compared.The gem of the draft has to be the seventh overall pick with the Los Angeles Dodgers. They took a young southpaw from Highland Park High School in Texas, and he has become not just one of the best pitchers in the game today but of all time. Clayton Kershaw is a five-time all-star, three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, was the 2014 MVP, pitched a no-hitter, and leads the league or is among the league leaders in ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, and wins every single year. Other notable players in the 2006 draft include two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (10th overall with the Giants), 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner and Nationals ace Max Scherzer (11th overall by the Diamondbacks), Orioles slugger Chris Davis (148th overall by the Rangers), Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija (149th overall by the Cubs), and Rays ace Chris Archer (161st overall by the Indians).
The 2012 draft has produced some phenomenal shortstops. The first overall pick in 2012 went to the Astros and they did not waste their pick. Carlos Correa made his debut in 2015 and did not disappoint. He won the AL Rookie of the Year, established himself as the best offensive shortstop in the game, and led the Astros the playoffs for the first time in a decade. There is nothing the 21-year-old kid cannot do. In 159 games so far, he has hit .270 with 30 HR and 100 RBI. The next impactful shortstop taken was Addison Russell with the 11th overall pick by the A’s. Russell was traded to the Cubs in the Samardzija and Hammel deal as Billy Bean pushed for the playoffs in 2014 and debuted for the Cubs in 2015. He has turned into one of the best all-around offensive and defensive shortstops in the league with the Cubs, forming one of the best left side of the infield combos with Kris Bryant. He currently leads NL shortstops in the all-star voting. Potential 2016 NL Rookie of the Year and even 2016 NL MVP Corey Seager was taken 18th overall by the Dodgers. He made his debut in September of 2015 and tore the cover off the ball, ending up as the Dodgers starting shortstops for their playoff run. This year, he’s hitting .283 with 14 homers and 35 RBIs, leading the currently second place Dodgers in average, home runs, RBI, runs, slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging, hits, doubles, and has only missed one game. He is becoming a star in the city of stars. Two notable pitchers from this class include Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman and Michael Wacha, a 2015 All-Star who was pivotal for the Cardinals run to the 2013 fall classic. Outfielder Stephen Piscotty, slugger Joey Gallo, former top prospect Byron Buxton, pitcher Kevin Gausman, catcher Mike Zunino, and recently promoted Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. round out the most notable names of this impressive class.
2009 was the first televised MLB draft and a draft that had some great first rounders but seemed to get better as the draft went along. Stephen Strasburg was the first overall pick with the Nationals, and although has had some injury issues has not disappointed with the Nationals. Dbacks All-Star CF AJ Pollock was taken with the 17th pick, current Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller was taken 19th overall by the Cardinals, and current Cardinals CF Randal Grichuk was taken 24th overall by the Angels. However the highlight of the draft came with the 25th overall pick and is the best player in the game. Mike Trout somehow fell to the 25th pick, and every team who passed on him regrets it. Trout is the best five-tool player in the game, and has a whole host of awards to prove it. He’s a four-time all-star, four-time Silver Slugger, two-time All-Star MVP, 2012 AL Rookie of the Year, 2014 AL MVP, and continues to be the game’s best. Past Trout, the class continues to become more and more impressive as the rounds go on. Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado was taken in the second round, as were Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, Mets pitcher Steven Matz, Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu (drafted by the Cubs), and Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin (drafted by the Angels). The third round featured Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager and current Padres 1B/OF Wil Myers, the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year with the Rays who was drafted with the Royals. Other notable selections included Giants 1B Brandon Belt in the fifth round, Houston ace and 2015 AL Cy Young Dallas Keuchel in the seventh round, Diamondbacks star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth round, Twins All-Star second baseman Brian Dozier also in the eighth round, Cardinals All-Star infielder Matt Carpenter in the thirteenth round, slugging outfielder JD Martinez with the Astros in the twentieth round, and the Cardinals took closer Trevor Rosenthal in the twentieth round. Top to bottom, 2009 may be one of the best drafts of all-time.
If you are looking for stars, just look at the loaded Class of 2007. The first overall pick went to the Devil Rays who picked David Price. By the next year, he was pitching out of the bullpen on their World Series run. Since then, he has been one of the best pitchers in the American League, winning the 2012 AL Cy Young Award and being named to five All-Star Teams. He has been the ace with the Rays, Tigers, Blue Jays, and now the Red Sox. The second pick was Mike Moustakas with the Royals. Although he hasn’t become one of the top players in the game, Moustakas is still a key piece to the Royals recent success and is beloved in Kansas City. The Orioles picked catcher Matt Wieters with the third pick, who when healthy is among the game’s best back stops. Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who has been a key piece along with Buster Posey in their three World Series championships, including being the World Series MVP in 2014, was taken by the Giants tenth overall. Jason Heyward was taken by the Braves 14th overall, Todd Frazier by the Reds 34th overall, and the Cubs took a catcher named Josh Donaldson 48th overall who would become one of the games greatest offensive threats with the A’s and Blue Jays at third on his way to the 2015 AL MVP. Second round picks included Jordan Zimmermann with the Nationals, Giancarlo Stanton with the Marlins, and Freddie Freeman with the Braves. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy and Pitcher Corey Kluber were taken by the Brewers and Padres in the third and fourth rounds. Two future Cub All-Stars were taken by AL East rivals, as Jake Arrieta was selected by the Orioles in the fifth round and Anthony Rizzo was taken by the Red Sox in the sixth round. Lucas Duda and Matt Moore were also drafted this year, adding to the depth this draft saw in stocking the league with of some of the best players in the game today.
Any time you have two of the top three players in the game drafted in the same class, there’s a pretty good chance that class will be one of the best. 2010 lives up to the hype. Bryce Harper was probably one of the most covered number one picks in baseball history, and the Nationals selected him with the fist overall pick. Harper has not disappointed and goes back and forth with Mike Trout to be the best player in the league. Still just 23, Harper is a three-time all-star, 2015 NL MVP, a Silver Slugger, has hit over 100 home runs, has close to 600 hits, and is probably the most recognizable face in baseball. He is revolutionizing the game every time he takes the field. Lost in the hype of Harper was the third overall pick with Manny Machado. To me, Machado is the third best player in the game behind Trout and Harper. Machado had been one of the best hitters, runners, and defenders at third and short but added power to his game in 2015 that really set him apart as on of the games’ best. He’s already a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Winner, as well as an early favorite for MVP this year for the East leading Orioles. But the class doesn’t end with just Harper and Machado. Added to this list is three aces and some of the best strikeout pitchers in the game. It’s hard to believe that Matt Harvey, Chris Sale, Noah Syndergaard, and Taijuan Walker were all taken in the same round. Harvey, Sale, and Syndergaard have become three of the most potent and dominant pitchers in the game, among the league leaders in many pitching categories every year. Although they have yet to win a Cy Young award, there are a few destined for these three stars. Also taken in 2010 were Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos, defensive-wiz shortstop Andrelton Simmons, power hitting outfielders Corey Dickerson, Kole Calhoun, and Evan Gattis, as wells as one of the top defensive center fielders in the game in Kevin Kiermaier who was drafted in the 31st round. One of the most recent players from this draft to make his debut was Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon, who was the second overall pick and made his debut yesterday against the Mets, proving that this class continues to produce stars.
The past ten years have produced some of today’s greats as well as some guys who are destined for Cooperstown. Odds are that at least one or two of the picks tonight will be Hall of Famers, so it will be exciting to see the next generation of superstars take their first step tonight.