Ranking the Past 15 MLB Draft Classes

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterNovember 29, 2012

Ranking the Past 15 MLB Draft Classes

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    After examining baseball’s top-drafting general managers, I thought that I’d keep things rolling by mixing in another retrospective draft article. However, while the previous piece had the narrow focus of evaluating only five GMs in relation to their current organization, today’s coverage is more inclusive in the sense that I’m grading each draft class over the last 15 years.

    But instead of breaking down each class in its entirety, I’ve based my rankings solely on the quality of first-rounders. Therefore, although a particular draft class may have yielded a greater number of big leaguers in the mid-to-late rounds, I’m only interested in analyzing the No. 1 picks from each year, respectively.

    Rather than simply listing every first-round selection, I’ve included only those players who enjoyed—or are in the midst of—a notable big-league career. Similarly, I’ve also highlighted (or in this case, italicized) prospects who rank among the top-100 in the game. And based upon those qualifications, I’ve assigned each class a letter grade with a brief analysis of the top five.

15. 2000: C-

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    1. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Miami Marlins

    6. Rocco Baldelli, OF, Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays

    15. Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies

    29. Adam Wainwright, RHP, Atlanta Braves

14. 1999: C

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    1. Josh Hamilton, OF, Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays

    2. Josh Beckett, RHP, Miami (Florida) Marlins

    9. Barry Zito, LHP, Oakland Athletics

    10. Ben Sheets, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

    12. Brett Myers, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

    19. Alex Rios, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays

13. 2001: C

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    1. Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins

    2. Mark Prior, RHP, Chicago Cubs

    4. Gavin Floyd, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

    5. Mark Teixeira, 3B, Texas Rangers

    13. Casey Kotchman, 1B, Los Angeles Angels

12. 2003: C+

4 of 15

    1. Delmon Young, OF, Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays

    2. Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers

    7. Nick Markakis, OF, Baltimore Orioles

    8. Paul Maholm, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

    9. John Danks, LHP, Texas Rangers

    10. Ian Stewart, 3B, Colorado Rockies

    13. Aaron Hill, SS, Toronto Blue Jays

    17. David Murphy, OF, Boston Red Sox

    23. Brandon Wood, SS, Los Angeles Angels

    24. Chad Billingsley, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    29. Carlos Quentin, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

11. 1998: C+

5 of 15

    1. Pat Burrell, 3B/1B, Philadelphia Phillies

    2. Mark Mulder, LHP, Oakland Athletics

    3. Corey Patterson, OF, Chicago Cubs

    5. J.D. Drew, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

    10. Carlos Pena, 1B, Texas Rangers

    17. Brad Lidge, RHP, Houston Astros

    20. CC Sabathia, LHP, Cleveland Indians

    22. Matt Thornton, LHP, Seattle Mariners

10. 2012: B-

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    1. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

    2. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins

    3. Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners

    4. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

    5. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals

    6. Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs

    7. Max Fried, LHP, San Diego Padres

    10. David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies

    11. Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics

    13. Courtney Hawkins, OF, Chicago White Sox

    16. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals

9. 2008: B-

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    2. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates

    3. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals

    4. Brian Matusz, LHP, Baltimore Orioles

    5. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants

    7. Yonder Alonso, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

    8. Gordon Beckham, SS, Chicago White Sox

    14. Aaron Hicks, OF, Minnesota Twins

    15. Ethan Martin, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    16. Brett Lawrie, 3B/C, Milwaukee Brewers

    18. Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets

    19. Andrew Cashner, RHP, Chicago Cubs

    30. Casey Kelly, RHP/SS, Boston Red Sox

8. 2010: B

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    1. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals

    2. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

    3. Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore Orioles

    7. Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets

    10. Michael Choice, OF, Oakland Athletics

    12. Yasmani Grandal, C, Cincinnati Reds

    13. Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox

    18. Kaleb Cowart, 3B/RHP, Los Angeles Angels

    23. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins

    24. Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants

    27. Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies

    28. Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

7. 2007: B

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    1. David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays

    2. Mike Moustakas, SS, Kansas City Royals

    5. Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles

    6. Ross Detwiler, LHP, Washington Nationals

    9. Jarrod Parker, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

    10. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants

    14. Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves

    15. Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds

    21. J.P. Arencibia, C/1B, Toronto Blue Jays

    27. Rick Porcello, RHP, Detroit Tigers

    28. Ben Revere, OF, Minnesota Twins

6. 2006: B

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    Notes: Beyond Evan Longoria, the 2006 draft class is responsible for three Cy Young Awards, one for Clayton Kershaw and two for Tim Lincecum.

    1. Luke Hochevar, RHP, Kansas City Royals

    3. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays

    5. Brandon Morrow, RHP, Seattle Mariners

    7. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    8. Drew Stubbs, OF, Cincinnati Reds

    10. Tim Lincecum, RHP, San Francisco Giants

    11. Max Scherzer, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

    21. Ian Kennedy, RHP, New York Yankees

5. 2002: B+

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    Notes: The 2002 draft class yielded three front-line starting pitchers in Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels and Matt Cain, as well as three All-Star position players: B.J. Upton, Prince Fielder and Nick Swisher.

    2. B.J. Upton, SS, Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays

    6. Zack Greinke, RHP, Kansas City Royals

    7. Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers

    12. Joe Saunders, LHP, Los Angeles Angels

    15. Scott Kazmir, LHP, New York Mets

    16. Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, Oakland Athletics

    17. Cole Hamels, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies

    19. James Loney, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers

    22. Jeremy Guthrie, RHP, Cleveland Indians

    23. Jeff Francoeur, OF, Atlanta Braves

    24. Joe Blanton, RHP, Oakland Athletics

    25. Matt Cain, RHP, San Francisco Giants

4. 2004: B+

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    Notes: I'm not sure what's more impressive about the 2004 draft class: that it produced a pair of aces (Justin Verlander and Jared Weaver), or that it features four pitchers who have thrown either a no-hitter or perfect game (Verlander, Weaver, Phil Humber and Homer Bailey).

    2. Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers

    3. Phil Humber, RHP, New York Mets

    4. Jeff Niemann, RHP, Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays

    7. Homer Bailey, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

    11. Neil Walker, C, Pittsburgh Pirates

    12. Jered Weaver, RHP, Los Angeles Angels

    14. Billy Butler, 3B, Kansas City Royals

    15. Stephen Drew, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks

    23. Phil Hughes, RHP, New York Yankees

3. 2009: B+

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    Notes: Although there's still a lot of unproven prospects from this class, it does feature two generational superstars in Stephen Strasburg and Mike Trout.

    1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals

    2. Dustin Ackley, OF, Seattle Mariners

    6. Zack Wheeler, RHP, San Francisco Giants

    7. Mike Minor, LHP, Atlanta Braves

    9. Jacob Turner, RHP, Detroit Tigers

    10. Drew Storen, RHP, Washington Nationals

    19. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

    22. Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota Twins

    25. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

    27. Nick Franklin, SS, Seattle Mariners

    29. Slade Heathcott, OF, New York Yankees

    31. Brett Jackson, OF, Chicago Cubs

2. 2011: A-

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    Notes: Much like the 2004 draft class, 2011 was a year loaded with elite pitching prospects. In my opinion, there's a strong chance that it will eventually produce more front-line starters in Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, Dylan Bundy, Archie Bradley, Jose Fernandez, Matt Barnes and Taylor Guerrieri. Wow.

    1. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

    2. Danny Hultzen, LHP, Seattle Mariners

    3. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

    4. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

    5. Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals

    6. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals

    7. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

    8. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

    9. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs

    11. George Springer, OF, Houston Astros

    14. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins

    19. Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox

    22. Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals

    23. Alex Meyer, RHP, Washington Nationals

    24. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

    27. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

1. 2005: A

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    Notes: The 2005 draft class is, without a doubt, the best of the last 15 years. I mean, just look at this list of players, It's basically an All-Star team.

    1. Justin Upton, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks

    2. Alex Gordon, 3B, Kansas City Royals

    4. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals

    5. Ryan Braun, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers

    6. Ricky Romero, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays

    7. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies

    10. Cameron Maybin, OF, Detroit Tigers

    11. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

    12. Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds

    23. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston Red Sox

    25. Matt Garza, RHP, Minnesota Twins

    28. Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

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