2010 – Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals:
- This was an easy pick for the Nationals, who grabbed one of the most hyped prospects ever, and Harper hasn’t disappointed. Now 27 years old, Harper’s a six-time All-Star with an NL MVP and a Rookie of the Year Award to his name, though he’s no longer a National. Harper owns the largest overall free-agent contract ever – the 13-year, $330MM accord he signed with the division-rival Phillies before 2019. Between the two teams, Harper has slashed .276/.385/.512 (138 wRC+) with 219 home runs and 35.1 fWAR.
2011 – Gerrit Cole, SP, Pirates:
- Speaking of record contracts, Cole scored a nine-year, $324MM deal with the Yankees this past winter, making him the highest-paid pitcher ever. The flamethrower got there by combining for a 3.22 ERA in 1,195 innings between Pittsburgh and Houston from 2013-19. The low-budget Pirates, unable to retain Cole for the long haul, sent him to the Astros prior to the 2018 campaign for what hasn’t been a great return thus far. Nevertheless, it’s unlikely they regret taking Cole No. 1 nine years ago.
2012 – Carlos Correa, SS, Astros:
- This is yet another smash success from the previous decade’s drafts. While injuries have troubled Correa of late, he’s one of the most valuable shortstops in baseball when he takes the field, having batted .277/.356/.489 (129 wRC+) with 102 homers and 18.5 fWAR over 2,362 plate appearances.
2013 – Mark Appel, SP, Astros:
- Unlike the Correa pick, this selection didn’t work out for the Astros. Appel, who still hasn’t pitched in the majors, went one pick before Cubs superstar Kris Bryant. But the Astros did get value from Appel when they dealt him and others to the Phillies in 2015 for reliever Ken Giles, who had his moments with the club from 2016-18. Appel, meanwhile, stepped away from baseball in February 2018. It’s anyone’s guess whether he’ll pitch professionally again.
2014 – Brady Aiken, SP, Astros:
- Three straight No. 1 picks for the Astros. They’ve come a long way since then, but Aiken didn’t play a role in their recent success. The team failed to sign Aiken, but its inability to do so turned into a 2015 compensatory pick (No. 2) that it used on Alex Bregman. Safe to say that worked out well. Aiken re-entered the draft and went 17th to the Indians in ’15, but he hasn’t played in the majors yet, and like Appel, he isn’t sure if he ever will.
2015 – Dansby Swanson, SS, Diamondbacks:
- Swanson, who came off the board one pick before Bregman (oops), never actually played for the Diamondbacks. They traded him, outfielder Ender Inciarte and righty Aaron Blair to Atlanta in a 2015 deal that brought Miller to Arizona (MLBTR’s George Miller recently revisited that swap). Swanson hasn’t blossomed into a star at the MLB level, though, as the owner of a .245/.318/.385 line (81 wRC+) with 3.9 fWAR in 1,774 trips to the plate.
- For the most part, it’s too soon to assess these players. Outfielder Mickey Moniak went No. 1 to the Phillies in 2016, but he hasn’t gotten past the Double-A level yet. If the Phillies had a do-over, they’d probably take Pete Alonso (64), Bo Bichette (66) or Shane Bieber (122), to name a few who have turned into major league standouts from that draft class. A year later, shortstop Royce Lewis went to the Twins at No. 1. Righty Casey Mize became a Tiger with the top pick in 2018, and catcher Adley Rutschman joined the Orioles with the first selection last summer. Lewis, Mize and Rutschman are still regarded as premium prospects. We’ll see how they fare if and when they appear at the sport’s highest level.