No player drafted in 2011 nor 2012 has played a game in the major leagues. While it is early to judge the 2010 draft and many players selected that year are still developing, the Chicago White Sox are reaping its earliest rewards.
Of all the major sports' drafts, baseball's is the hardest to judge and grade. Unlike basketball and football, players do not come into the majors to make an immediate impact. There is no baseball equivalent to Magic Johnson or Eric Dickerson, where a player is drafted and pays immediate dividends in the majors.
It is even difficult to determine who drafted well until a few years pass. No. 1 overall picks like Shawn Abner, Paul Wilson, Matt Anderson and Bryan Bullington had mere cameos in the majors. Others, like Brien Taylor and Matt Bush, never played a game in the show.
Other picks that were criticized initially turned out to be winners. The Braves were considered to be losers in the 1990 draft when they did not select Todd Van Poppel and settled for some kid named Chipper Jones. They probably do not regret that decision.
Meanwhile, in 1989, the White Sox looked shortsighted passing up future star outfielder Earl Cunningham while drafting the limited talents of Frank Thomas. Cunningham never played a game in the majors. Thomas is going to the Hall of Fame.
Those same White Sox look to be the frontrunning winners of the most recent draft we can evaluate.
Sure, the most famous member of the 2010 draft, Bryce Harper, is putting up good numbers in Washington for an unlikely pennant run. And Harper has already coined the newest sports catch phrase, "That's a clown question, bro." But White Sox have two big contributors from the 2010 draft not only on the 25-man roster but leading their pitching staff.
General manager Kenny Williams and his staff seemed to have a strategy of drafting as many college pitchers as possible in the early rounds. They had four picks in the first three rounds and used them all on college arms. And so far it is paying off.
Four other teams selected college pitchers before the White Sox landed Chris Sale. Unlike those other four pitchers, Sale is making a big impact in the bigs. He made his debut for Chicago in 2010 and has already logged a season and a half on the South Side as an effective reliever.
This year, he has moved to the rotation, and as of this writing he not only leads the White Sox staff in wins and strikeouts but leads all of the American League in ERA.
And unlike many other top pitching prospects, the White Sox do not seem to be wringing their hands and babying his arm. He has logged seven or more innings in six of his 14 starts, including four where he went eight innings or more.
At the beginning of the 2012 season, Sale was a candidate for the White Sox closer's role. But that spot has been ably filled in by their third-round pick of the 2010 draft, Addison Reed. The former San Diego State star struck out 155 batters in 108.1 minor league innings and posted a 1.41 ERA before getting the call to Chicago.
He pitched exceptionally well in 2012 until a brutal May 13 performance in Kansas City made his ERA jump from 0.00 to 5.23. He has pitched well since then, bringing his ERA down to 3.96 and converting nine of 10 save opportunities.
The White Sox needed a front-line starter and closer in 2012, and they got them from their 2010 draft class. No need to trade prospects for them. Their prospects have made the transition from potential to production. And the reward is paying off as the White Sox are, as of this writing, a mere one game back in the loss column of the overachieving Indians for the A.L. Central lead.
In a season that was supposed to be a transition and potentially rebuilding season in Chicago with Ozzie Guillen leaving and the untried Robin Ventura taking over as manager, the White Sox are finding themselves as real contenders with young players under the team's control.
In a few years, some of the other players from the draft will emerge. Perhaps Bryce Harper will indeed become the league's MVP and the Nationals will look like they got the best in the 2010 draft.
Maybe Jameson Tailon will be a dominant pitcher in Pittsburgh or Manny Machado will be a beloved star in Baltimore. First-rounders Drew Pomeranz and Yasmani Grandal have already been used as trade chips. Maybe they will be great big league players.
But there is no maybe nor speculation needed in Chicago. Right now Chris Sale and Addison Reed are big leaguers and contributing to a pennant run. And the White Sox are, until further notice, the team that drafted best in 2010.