The Greatest 1-Year MLB Draft Haul for All 30 Teams Since 1990
It will be years before we know who walks away as the true winners and losers of the 2020 MLB draft.
However, we do have the benefit of hindsight on past drafts, and we set out to determine each MLB team's best one-year draft haul since 1990.
The idea here was to find which year produced the best collection of MLB talent.
While the easy way to determine that would have been to simply highlight the draft class that has produced the most WAR for each team, those numbers are often skewed by one player. For example, the Seattle Mariners' draft class in 1993 produced 119 WAR at the MLB level, but Alex Rodriguez was responsible for 117.5 of that. In that case, it was more a single good pick than a truly impressive overall draft haul.
With that in mind, the goal was to find draft classes that contained at least three solid MLB contributors, with the best class chosen subjectively once that criterion was met.
Since we're only going back to 1990, each team's best pre-1990 class was also highlighted in a quick note at the bottom of each slide. That excludes the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays, each of whom became a franchise after the 1990 season.
Arizona Diamondbacks: 2009
- 1B Paul Goldschmidt
- OF A.J. Pollock
- SP Chase Anderson
- OF Keon Broxton
- IF Chris Owings
- 3B Matt Davidson
- A strong case can be made that Paul Goldschmidt (eighth round) is the best position player in Arizona Diamondbacks history after he posted a 145 OPS+ with 209 home runs and 40.7 WAR in eight seasons with the team.
- Outfielder A.J. Pollock (first round) was an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner in 2015 when he was worth 6.9 WAR, and he inked a four-year, $55 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers last offseason.
- Right-hander Chase Anderson (ninth round) has quietly been a reliable starter over the past six seasons with the D-backs and Milwaukee Brewers. He has averaged 27 starts and 143 innings while posting a 3.94 ERA and 106 ERA+.
Atlanta Braves: 2007
- 1B Freddie Freeman
- OF Jason Heyward
- RP Cory Gearrin
- IF Brandon Hicks
- First baseman Freddie Freeman (second round) made his MLB debut at the age of 20 in 2010, and he served as a cornerstone of the team's rebuilding efforts. Now he's one of the best players in baseball, fresh off a 38-homer, 121-RBI season.
- While he has not developed into the middle-of-the-order threat he was expected to be offensively, Jason Heyward (first round) is a five-time Gold Glove winner and a 36.9-WAR player.
- Keep an eye on the 2015 draft with Mike Soroka, Austin Riley, Kolby Allard, A.J. Minter and current prospect Patrick Weigel.
Best Pre-1990 Draft: 1974—OF Dale Murphy, RP Rick Camp, RP Joey McLaughlin, SP Mickey Mahler
Baltimore Orioles: 1999
- 2B Brian Roberts
- SP Erik Bedard
- OF Larry Bigbie
- IF/OF Willie Harris
- Second baseman Brian Roberts (first round) spent 13 seasons with the Orioles, racking up 1,452 hits, 278 steals and 28.8 WAR while earning two All-Star selections.
- Erik Bedard (sixth round) went 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 221 strikeouts in 182 innings to finish fifth in AL Cy Young voting during the 2007 campaign. That offseason, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners in a deal that brought back Adam Jones and Chris Tillman.
- The O's hit on two of their 1999 first-round picks in Roberts and Bigbie, but they actually had seven selections total within the first 50 picks. Three of those players never reached the majors, while two others were non-factors.
Best Pre-1990 Draft: 1978—SS Cal Ripken Jr., SP Mike Boddicker, OF Larry Sheets
Boston Red Sox: 2011
- OF Mookie Betts
- OF Jackie Bradley Jr.
- 3B Travis Shaw
- RP Matt Barnes
- RP Noe Ramirez
- C Blake Swihart
- Mookie Betts (fifth round) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (first round) shared the Boston outfield for five full seasons. They started the All-Star Game together in 2016 and both won a Gold Glove in 2018, the same year that Betts won AL MVP honors.
- Third baseman Travis Shaw (ninth round) posted back-to-back 30-homer seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers after he was traded along with infielder Mauricio Dubon in exchange for reliever Tyler Thornburg following the 2016 campaign.
- Right-hander Matt Barnes (first round) did not develop as hoped in a starting role, but he has thrived since moving to the bullpen. Over the past four seasons, he has averaged 66 appearances while posting a 3.84 ERA and 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1976—3B Wade Boggs, SP Bruce Hurst, SP Mike Smithson, SS Glenn Hoffman, C Gary Allenson, IF Chico Walker, OF Reid Nichols
Chicago Cubs: 2001
- SP Mark Prior
- SP Ricky Nolasco
- C Geovany Soto
- SS Ryan Theriot
- RP Andy Sisco
- SP Sergio Mitre
- IF Brendan Harris
- Arguably the greatest pitcher in college baseball history, Mark Prior (first round) was on his way to stardom when arm issues derailed his career. He went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 245 strikeouts over 211.1 innings in his only fully healthy season in 2003, including 10-1 with a 1.52 ERA in 11 starts after the All-Star break.
- Catcher Geovany Soto (11th round) won NL Rookie of the Year honors and became the first NL catcher to start the All-Star Game as a rookie in 2008. That proved to be his peak, but he spent five seasons as the Cubs' starting catcher.
- Ricky Nolasco (fourth round) and Sergio Mitre (seventh round) were traded to the Marlins prior to the 2006 season in exchange for speedster Juan Pierre
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1985—1B Rafael Palmeiro, 1B Mark Grace, OF Doug Dascenzo
Chicago White Sox: 1998
- SP Mark Buehrle
- OF Aaron Rowand
- SP Kip Wells
- SP Josh Fogg
- RP Gary Majewski
- Workhorse Mark Buehrle (38th round) tossed at least 200 innings in 14 straight seasons over the course of his 16-year career. He spent 12 of those 16 campaigns pitching for the South Siders, earning four of his five All-Star selections and twirling a no-hitter and a perfect game.
- Outfielder Aaron Rowand (first round) posted 12.7 WAR in five seasons with the White Sox before he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in the Jim Thome deal. Kip Wells (first round) and Josh Fogg (third round) were also traded early in their careers, going to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for right-hander Todd Ritchie.
- The 1990 draft haul of Ray Durham, Alex Fernandez, James Baldwin, Bob Wickman and Jason Bere received serious consideration and was a close second.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1970—RP Rich Gossage, RP Terry Forster, OF Jerry Hairston, IF Bruce Miller, IF Lee Richard
Cincinnati Reds: 1998
- OF Adam Dunn
- OF Austin Kearns
- RP B.J. Ryan
- RP Todd Coffey
- Slugger Adam Dunn (second round) hit 270 of his 462 career home runs in eight seasons with the Reds, including four straight 40-homer seasons. He was traded to the Diamondbacks prior to reaching free agency for a lackluster three-player return.
- Austin Kearns (first round) finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2002 and tallied 9.8 WAR in five seasons with the Reds. Reliever B.J. Ryan (17th round) made just one appearance with the Reds before he was traded to Baltimore. He went on to tally 117 career saves as a two-time All-Star.
- The 2007 draft class, led by Todd Frazier, Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco, was also in the mix.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1965—C Johnny Bench, DH Hal McRae, OF Bernie Carbo
Cleveland Indians: 1991
- OF Manny Ramirez
- SP Paul Byrd
- SP Chad Ogea
- 3B Herbert Perry
- SP Albie Lopez
- RP Pep Harris
- Manny Ramirez was the No. 13 overall pick in the 1991 draft. He hit 236 of his 555 career home runs in eight seasons with the Indians, tallying 30.0 WAR in the process.
- Paul Byrd (fourth round) had a 103 ERA+ in 1,697 career innings, though he didn't pitch for the Indians until his age-35 season when he rejoined the team for a second time. Chad Ogea (third round) made 66 starts in five seasons with the team, starting two games of the 1997 World Series.
- Keep an eye on the 2016 draft class, which has already produced starting pitchers Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale. It also features top prospect Nolan Jones.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1989—1B Jim Thome, OF Brian Giles, RP Curt Leskanic, RP Jerry Dipoto, SP Robert Person, RP Alan Embree, C Jesse Levis
Colorado Rockies: 1998
- OF Matt Holliday
- OF Juan Pierre
- OF Jody Gerut
- RP Mark DiFelice
- RP Luke Hudson
- OF Choo Freeman
- Outfielder Matt Holliday (seventh round) played the first five seasons of his career with the Rockies, including a huge 2007 season in which he led the NL in batting average (.340), hits (216), doubles (50), RBI (137) and total bases (386) to finish second in NL MVP voting. He was traded to Oakland in the deal that brought back Carlos Gonzalez.
- Juan Pierre (13th round) hit .308 with 100 steals in three seasons with the Rockies before he was traded to the then-Florida Marlins. He finished his 14-year career with 2,217 hits and 614 steals.
- The Rockies traded Jody Gerut (second round) to the Cleveland Indians before he made his MLB debut, and he posted a 119 OPS+ with 33 doubles and 22 home runs in 2003 to finish fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. That was the peak of his six-year career.
Detroit Tigers: 1998
- 3B Brandon Inge
- SP Jeff Weaver
- OF Andres Torres
- SP Nate Cornejo
- RP Adam Pettyjohn
- Brandon Inge (second round) debuted as a catcher before moving to third base, where he was an All-Star in 2009. He tallied 152 home runs and 648 RBI in 13 MLB seasons, racking up 19.2 WAR along the way.
- Right-hander Jeff Weaver (first round) was the fifth pitcher taken and the No. 14 overall pick in the 1998 draft. He broke camp with a spot in the Detroit rotation in 1999 and won 104 games with a 4.71 ERA and 14.2 WAR in 1,838 career innings.
- A 2018 draft class that includes top prospects Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Parker Meadows has a chance to top this list.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1976—SS Alan Trammell, SP Jack Morris, SP Dan Petry, SP Pat Underwood, SP Kip Young
Houston Astros: 2009
- OF J.D. Martinez
- SP Dallas Keuchel
- IF/OF Enrique Hernandez
- OF Jake Goebbert
- J.D. Martinez (20th round) had an 88 OPS+ with 24 home runs in 252 games for the Astros before he was released at the start of the 2014 season. The Tigers scooped him up two days later and retooled his swing, and the rest is history.
- Also a late-bloomer, left-hander Dallas Keuchel (seventh round) had a 5.20 ERA in 239 innings over his first two MLB seasons before a breakout season in 2014 and an AL Cy Young-winning campaign in 2015.
- The Astros traded Enrique Hernandez (sixth round) to the Miami Marlins in a six-player deal midway through the 2014 season, and he was traded again to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-player deal that offseason. He's now one of the best utility players in baseball.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1988—OF Kenny Lofton, OF Luis Gonzalez, C Scott Servais, IF Dave Silvestri
Kansas City Royals: 1992
- OF Johnny Damon
- SP Jon Lieber
- OF Michael Tucker
- RP Jim Pittsley
- OF Larry Sutton
- While he may be best remembered for his time with the Red Sox, outfielder Johnny Damon (first round) posted more WAR (17.3) with the Royals that with any other team over the course of his 18-year career.
- Jon Lieber (second round) was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Stan Belinda before making his debut with the Royals. He went 131-124 with a 4.27 ERA and 103 ERA+ in 2,198 career innings, winning 20 games and finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 2001.
- The Royals dealt Michael Tucker (first round) to the Braves at the start of the 1997 season in exchange for a young Jermaine Dye. In 12 MLB seasons playing for seven different teams, Tucker was worth 8.1 WAR.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1981—SP David Cone, SP Mark Gubicza, RP John Davis
Los Angeles Angels: 2009
- OF Mike Trout
- SP Patrick Corbin
- OF Randal Grichuk
- SP Garrett Richards
- SP Tyler Skaggs
- RP David Carpenter
- Mike Trout (first round) is well on his way to being the best player of his generation. The three-time AL MVP winner and eight-time All-Star has already piled up 72.8 WAR, and he's still shy of his 29th birthday.
- The Angels traded Patrick Corbin (second round) and the late Tyler Skaggs (first round) to the Diamondbacks at the 2010 trade deadline in exchange for Dan Haren.
- Randal Grichuk (first round) and Garrett Richards (first round) have both teased being MLB standouts at various points in their career. Both still have a chance to make a significant impact with Grichuk signed long-term in Toronto and Richards on the rehab trail in San Diego.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1988—OF Jim Edmonds, SP Jim Abbott, 2B Damion Easley, SS Gary Disarcina, 1B J.R. Phillips
Los Angeles Dodgers: 2002
- C Russell Martin
- 1B James Loney
- RP Jonathan Broxton
- SP Eric Stults
- SP James McDonald
- IF/OF Delwyn Young
- Catcher Russell Martin (17th round) has carved out a terrific 14-year MLB career as a two-way standout. He spent the first five seasons of his career with the Dodgers and then returned for the 2019 season, tallying 16.5 of his 38.7 career WAR in Los Angeles.
- While he never had prototypical first baseman power, James Loney (first round) hit .284/.336/.410 for a 104 OPS+ with 108 home runs and 669 RBI over the course of a productive career. He tallied 11.3 WAR in 11 seasons.
- Hard-throwing Jonathan Broxton (second round) was a two-time All-Star who saved 118 games in his 13-year career. Lefty Eric Stults (15th round) made 112 career starts, while James McDonald (11th round) started 82 games in six seasons.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1988—C Mike Piazza, 1B Eric Karros, RP Jim Poole, OF Billy Ashley
Miami Marlins: 2010
- OF Christian Yelich
- C J.T. Realmuto
- OF Mark Canha
- RP Grant Dayton
- RP Austin Brice
- Christian Yelich was originally drafted as a first baseman with the No. 23 overall pick in the 2010 draft. He has since developed into a solid defensive outfielder, along with being one of the game's most dynamic offensive players.
- Now arguably the best all-around catcher in baseball, J.T. Realmuto (third round) was originally drafted as a shortstop, though he made the move behind the plate to start his pro career. That shortstop arm strength was clear last year when he threw out 47 percent of base stealers.
- The Marlins lost Mark Canha (seventh round) in the 2014 Rule 5 draft, as he was selected by the Colorado Rockies and then traded to the Oakland Athletics. He was a 4.3-WAR player last season in Oakland, posting a 145 OPS+ with 26 home runs in 126 games while playing a passable center field in a pinch.
Milwaukee Brewers: 2005
- OF Ryan Braun
- OF Michael Brantley
- RP Zach Braddock
- OF Mat Gamel
- After a standout career at the University of Miami, Ryan Braun went No. 5 overall in the 2005 draft. Two years later, he won NL Rookie of the Year, posting a 154 OPS+ with 34 home runs and 97 RBI in 113 games while playing third base. He has spent his entire 13-year career in Milwaukee.
- The Brewers traded Michael Brantley (seventh round) to the Indians in the CC Sabathia trade. He's a four-time All-Star with a .297 career average and 116 OPS+ in 1,199 games, thanks to one of the sweetest swings in baseball.
- Reliever Zach Braddock (18th round) had one solid season out of the Milwaukee bullpen in 2010, posting a 2.94 ERA and 11.0 K/9 with 15 holds in 46 appearances.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1977—3B Paul Molitor, OF Kevin Bass, SP Dave LaPoint
Minnesota Twins: 1991
- SP Brad Radke
- RP LaTroy Hawkins
- OF Matt Lawton
- IF Scott Stahoviak
- 1B Dave McCarty
- One of the most underrated pitchers of the last 25 years, Brad Radke (eighth round) had a 4.22 ERA and 113 ERA+ in his career. He spent his entire 12-year career in Minnesota, averaging 31 starts and 204 innings while tossing 37 complete games and 10 shutouts.
- LaTroy Hawkins (seventh round) ranks 10th on the all-time list with 1,042 career appearances. Outfielder Matt Lawton (13th round) was an All-Star in 2000 and 2004.
- The 2012 draft class with Jose Berrios, Byron Buxton, Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey already has a strong case for the top spot, and that group will continue to make an impact in the years to come.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1989—2B Chuck Knoblauch, SP Scott Erickson, SP Denny Neagle, OF Marty Cordova, RP Mike Trombley
New York Mets: 2010
- SP Jacob deGrom
- SP Matt Harvey
- RP Josh Edgin
- RP Erik Goeddel
- OF Matt den Dekker
- RP Adam Kolarek
- Jacob deGrom was a ninth-round pick out of Stetson University. That same small school in DeLand, Florida, has also produced two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and Seattle Mariners top prospect Logan Gilbert.
- His fall from grace was a precipitous one, but let's not forget how good Matt Harvey was at his peak. The No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 draft posted a 2.27 ERA with 191 strikeouts over 178.1 innings in 2013, starting the All-Star Game and finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting.
- Relievers Josh Edgin (30th round) and Erik Goeddel (24th round) have both tallied more than 100 appearances at the MLB level with positive career WAR. That alone should be considered beating the odds for players drafted that late.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1965—SP Nolan Ryan, SP Steve Renko, SP Jim McAndrew, 2B Ken Boswell, RP Don Shaw
New York Yankees: 1990
- SP Andy Pettitte
- C Jorge Posada
- OF Carl Everett
- OF Shane Spencer
- OF Ricky Ledee
- IF Kevin Jordan
- Is this the greatest single draft haul since 1990? Andy Pettitte (22nd round) and Jorge Posada (24th round) were worth a combined 103.4 WAR, earning nine World Series rings and eight All-Star appearances between them.
- Carl Everett (first round) was chosen by the Florida Marlins in the 1992 expansion draft, and he bounced around to eight different teams in his 14-year career, slugging 202 home runs and tallying 20.5 WAR along the way.
- Shane Spencer (28th round) and Ricky Ledee (16th round) both took a turn in what was a longtime revolving door in left field for the Yankees in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1981—1B Fred McGriff, SP Bob Tewksbury, RP Eric Plunk, 3B Mike Pagliarulo, C Scott Bradley
Oakland Athletics: 1998
- SP Mark Mulder
- OF Eric Byrnes
- C Gerald Laird
- RP Jon Adkins
- RP Tyler Yates
- Along with Barry Zito and Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder (first round) was part of the Big Three that anchored the Oakland rotation in the early 2000s. He went 81-42 with a 3.92 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 1,0003 innings over five seasons with the A's, tossing 22 complete games and eight shutouts.
- Outfielder Eric Byrnes (eighth round) had a rare 20-homer, 50-steal season with the Diamondbacks in 2007, tallying 21 home runs and 50 steals in a 3.7-WAR season to finish 11th in NL MVP voting.
- Gerald Laird (second round) quietly put together a solid 13-year career as a defensive-minded backup catcher, throwing out 35 percent of runners and tallying 6.5 WAR in 799 career games.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1965—3B Sal Bando, C Gene Tenace, OF Rick Monday, OF Joe Keough
Philadelphia Phillies: 1998
- OF Pat Burrell
- SS Nick Punto
- RP Ryan Madson
- OF Jason Michaels
- RP Geoff Geary
- OF Eric Valent
- A hyped prospect as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 draft, Pat Burrell launched 292 home runs over his 12-year career. That included four 30-homer seasons during his nine years in Philadelphia.
- Complementary pieces for most of their careers, Nick Punto (21st round) and Ryan Madson (ninth round) were among the best in the business in the unheralded roles of utility infielder and setup reliever, respectively.
- Shoutout to the 2014 draft class that produced both Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1974—OF Lonnie Smith, 3B Jim Morrison, RP Mark Clear, RP Kevin Saucier
Pittsburgh Pirates: 2000
- 3B/OF Jose Bautista
- SP Chris Young
- OF Nate McLouth
- RP Sean Burnett
- SP Ian Snell
- The Pirates lost Jose Bautista (20th round) in the 2003 Rule 5 draft, then they re-acquired him at the 2004 trade deadline, only to trade him right before he blew up in Toronto.
- Towering 6'10" right-hander Chris Young (third round) won 79 games with a 3.95 ERA and 103 ERA+ in 1,297.2 innings. Outfielder Nate McLouth (25th round) was an All-Star in 2008. Sean Burnett (first round) developed into a stellar lefty specialist after flopping as a starter, and Ian Snell (26th round) started 116 games over six seasons in Pittsburgh.
- The 2011 draft class has a chance to seize the top spot for the Pirates if Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow continue their emergence, following a path similar to No. 1 overall pick and bona fide superstar Gerrit Cole. For now, it's a very close second.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1972—2B Willie Randolph, SP John Candelaria, 3B Ken Macha
San Diego Padres: 2005
- 1B Derrek Lee
- SP Matt Clement
- OF Gary Matthews Jr.
- RP Greg Keagle
- First baseman Derrek Lee (first round) was the centerpiece in the deal that sent ace Kevin Brown from the Florida Marlins in the Padres prior to the 1998 season. Brown was instrumental in helping the Padres reach the World Series that year, while Lee went on to hit 331 home runs over the course of a 34.6-WAR career.
- Matt Clement (third round) and Lee were teammates on a 2004 Chicago Cubs team that entered the season with lofty expectations. He went 87-86 with a 4.47 ERA and 96 ERA+ in 1,412.2 innings over nine MLB seasons.
- The 2005 draft class with Chase Headley, Will Venable, Nick Hundley and Cesar Ramos was the only other serious contender.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1981—OF Tony Gwynn, OF Kevin McReynolds, RP Bill Long, RP Greg Booker
San Francisco Giants: 2008
- C Buster Posey
- SS Brandon Crawford
- IF Conor Gillaspie
- OF Juan Perez
- In what ended up being an extremely weak 2008 draft class, the Giants walked away with two of the best players in franchise cornerstone Buster Posey (first round) and Gold Glove shortstop Brandon Crawford (fourth round).
- Posey hit .463/.566/.879 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI in 68 games during his junior season at Florida State. He also tallied six saves with 10 strikeouts in 7.2 innings on the mound.
- Conor Gillaspie hit one of the biggest home runs in recent Giants history when he broke a 0-0 tie in the ninth inning of the 2016 NL Wild Card Game with a three-run shot off New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1985—1B Will Clark, RP Jeff Brantley, RP Dennis Cook, SP Trevor Wilson
Seattle Mariners: 1991
- SP Derek Lowe
- SP Shawn Estes
- OF Darren Bragg
- RP Jim Mecir
- RP Matt Mantei
- SS Desi Relaford
- The fact that Derek Lowe (eighth round) and Shawn Estes (first round) pitched a combined 4,349.2 innings at the MLB level, just 53 of which came in a Mariners uniform, makes this draft class a little tough to swallow if you're a Mariners fan.
- Outfielder Darren Bragg (22nd round) tallied a modest 2.7 WAR in three seasons with the Mariners before he was traded to Boston in exchange for Jamie Moyer in one of the better deals in franchise history.
- To the best of my knowledge, Jim Mecir (third round) was the only active pitcher in the beloved video game MVP Baseball 2005 who could throw a screwball. He was always a member of my fantasy-drafted bullpen as a result. He also made 474 appearances and had a 3.77 ERA in 11 MLB seasons.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1987—OF Ken Griffey Jr., SP Dave Burba, SP Mark Gardiner, IF Todd Haney
St. Louis Cardinals: 2009
- 3B Matt Carpenter
- SP Shelby Miller
- RP Trevor Rosenthal
- RP Joe Kelly
- 1B Matt Adams
- Despite a down year in 2019, Matt Carpenter (13th round) has still been an excellent late-round find for the Cardinals, racking up 28.3 WAR and three All-Star appearances in nine seasons.
- Shelby Miller (first round) and Trevor Rosenthal (21st round) were both All-Star pitchers at their respective peaks. The drop-offs were steep once they hit those peaks, but they were productive nonetheless, and Miller was eventually used to acquire Jason Heyward from the Braves.
- Now a reliever, Joe Kelly (third round) started Game 3 of the 2013 World Series for the Cardinals, and he pitched mostly as a starter during his time with the team. He had a 3.25 ERA and 116 ERA+ over 266 innings in St. Louis before he was traded to Boston in the John Lackey deal.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1982—3B Terry Pendleton, OF Vince Coleman, RP Todd Worrell
Tampa Bay Rays: 2006
- 3B Evan Longoria
- OF Desmond Jennings
- SP Alex Cobb
- IF Shawn O'Malley
- Simply put, Evan Longoria is the greatest player in Tampa Bay Rays franchise history. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 draft is the club's all-time leader in WAR (51.8), games played (1,435), doubles (338), home runs (261), RBI (892) and runs scored (780).
- With a sneaky mix of power and speed, Desmond Jennings (10th round) tallied 13.5 WAR in his seven-year MLB career, posting a 102 OPS+ while averaging 12 home runs and 22 steals in his three healthy seasons as an everyday player.
- Another player who has struggled to stay healthy, Alex Cobb (fourth round) had a 3.50 ERA and 112 ERA+ in 115 starts with the Rays. Unfortunately, he topped 150 innings just twice in seven years and missed the entire 2015 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Texas Rangers: 1996
- DH Travis Hafner
- SP R.A. Dickey
- SP Doug Davis
- 2B Warren Morris
- Designated hitter Travis Hafner (31st round) had a brief but extremely productive peak with the Indians after he was traded with Aaron Myette for right-hander Ryan Drese and catcher Einar Diaz. During the three-year stretch from 2004 through 2006, he hit .308/.419/.611 and averaged 38 doubles, 34 home runs and 111 RBI.
- R.A. Dickey (first round) struggled to a 5.72 ERA in 266 innings with the Rangers before departing in free agency, reinventing himself as a knuckleballer and eventually winning NL Cy Young honors with the Mets in 2012. Left-hander Doug Davis (10th round) had a 4.44 ERA and 102 ERA+ in 1,715.2 career innings.
- The 1999 draft class (Aaron Harang, Hank Blalock, Colby Lewis, Kevin Mench) and the 2003 draft class (Ian Kinsler, John Danks, Scott Feldman) were also seriously considered.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1986—SP Kevin Brown, SS Rey Sanchez, 3B Dean Palmer, SP Roger Pavlik
Toronto Blue Jays: 1997
- OF Vernon Wells
- SS Michael Young
- 2B Orlando Hudson
- SP Mark Hendrickson
- Vernon Wells (first round) posted a 109 OPS+ and averaged 36 doubles, 25 home runs and 89 RBI in nine full seasons with the Blue Jays. He was a three-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner during his time with the team.
- The Blue Jays could have had a middle infield of defensive whiz Orlando Hudson (43rd round) and pure hitter Michael Young (fifth round). Instead, they traded Young to the Rangers in exchange for Esteban Loaiza before he made his MLB debut.
- Mark Hendrickson (20th round) pitched 1,169 innings in the majors and also played 114 games in the NBA. The 6'9" southpaw made his MLB debut at the age of 28 after his NBA career came to a close.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1982—SP Jimmy Key, SP David Wells, C Pat Borders
Washington Nationals: 2000
- SP Cliff Lee
- OF Grady Sizemore
- OF Jason Bay
- SP Shawn Hill
- RP Justin Wayne
- Cliff Lee (fourth round) and Grady Sizemore (third round) were memorably part of one of the most lopsided deals in MLB history, going to the Indians along with Brandon Phillips and Lee Stevens in exchange for three months of Bartolo Colon and a failed playoff push.
- Outfielder Jason Bay (22nd round) was traded twice before he landed in Pittsburgh and won NL Rookie of the Year in 2004. The first deal sent him from the Expos to the Mets, along with Jimmy Serrano, in exchange for Lou Collier.
- Shawn Hill (sixth round) started 37 games in four seasons with the Nationals, including a career-high 16 starts and 97.1 innings in 2007 when he posted a 3.42 ERA and 124 ERA+ in a 2.1-WAR season.
Best Pre-1990 Class: 1977—OF Tim Raines, SP Scott Sanderson, SP Bill Gullickson
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.