Draft position and players who made it to MLB

There were nearly 150 comments made in response to Al Yellon's post this week asking whether the Cubs should lose all their remaining games in hopes of improving their spot the next amateur draft.

Al noted that the Cubs were eighth in draft order, and even by losing each game likely could move no higher than fifth.

I wondered how much difference draft position really has meant in recent years.

I looked at who was picked in each June draft from 2010-20, to see how many of the players drafted have made it to the Major Leagues, broken down by where they were selected: 1-5, 6-10 and so on through 26-30.

After doing so, I whittled the years down to 2010-18, as only 4 players drafted in 2019 or 2020 so far have played an MLB game.



Of all 270 players drafted in 2010-18, so far 178 have reached the big leagues, 66 percent. The percentages for individual drafts ranged from a high of 97 percent in 2011 to a low of 33 percent in 2018. The latter figure likely will rise. The lowest in any other year was 53 percent, in 2017.

The only player picked in the top 30 in 2011 who hasn't reached the majors: No. 30, Levi Michael, a shortstop selected by the Twins.

The top 5 that year were, in order, pitchers Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen, Trevor Bauer and Dylan Bundy, then outfielder Bubba Starling.

The second 5 consisted of third baseman Anthony Rendon, pitcher Archie Bradley, shortstops Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez, and second baseman Cory Spangenberg.

Among the others drafted in 2011: George Springer (11th), Kolten Wong (22nd) and Joe Panik (29th).



Each of the top 5 eventually arrived in The Show who were picked in 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2018. Four have done so from 2013 and 2016; the one who did not in 2013 was No. 1, pitcher Mark Appel, chosen by the Twins. With the No. 2 pick, the Cubs grabbed Kris Bryant.

Three of the 5 highest selections in 2014 have spent time in MLB, but only 2 from 2017: pitchers Brendan McKay, by the Rays, and Kyle Wright, by the Braves, were fourth and fifth, respectively.

In all, 38 of the 45 players who went Nos. 1-5 in the 9 drafts have become Major Leaguers, which is 87 percent.



That is significantly higher than the 71 percent, 31 players, who were picked between sixth and 10th.

As in 2011, each player in that group in 2016 advanced to the big leagues. They were, in order, A.J. Puk, Braxton Garrett, Cal Quantrill, Matt Manning and Zack Collins.

Nearly as many players drafted 11th-15th have reached the majors, 29, for 69 percent of that group.

There have been 26 (58 percent) among those 16th-20th, 27 (60 percent) who were 21st-25th and 23 (51 percent) picked 26th-30th.



Baseball's amateur draft has tended to be much more of a crap shoot than the drafts of college players in football or baseball. An All-American quarterback or shooting guard can turn pro and immediately improve a team's fortunes. That rarely happens in baseball.

And there have been many, many misses in evaluating baseball players who eventually became stars.


In 2010, for example, the No. 1 pick was a no brainer: Bryce Harper. Manny Machado went third.

Separating them was Jameson Taillon, who has been a decent big league pitcher, with a career WAR of 10.9 in 5 seasons, but is hardly the equal of Harper or Machado.

And the pitchers who were picked after Taillon include Matt Harvey (7th) and Chris Sale (13th). Noah Syndergaard, still in high school, lasted until No. 38.

As for hitters, Christian Yelich was picked 23rd; Nick Castellanos, 44th; and J.T. Realmuto, 104th.


Here are just a few other players of note from subsequent drafts who were not among the top 30 picks from 2011-16:


Trevor Story, 45th

Mookie Betts, 172nd


Joey Gallo, 39th

Jesse Winkler, 49th

Patrick Wisdom, 52nd


Aaron Judge, 32nd

Cody Bellinger, 124th

Adam Frazier, 179th


Rhys Hoskins, 142nd

Dylan Cease, 169th


Brandon Lowe, 87th


Bryan Reynolds, 49th

Pete Alonso, 64th

Bo Bichette, 66th

Corbin Burnes, 111th

Shane Bieber, 122nd


Those 16 would make the nucleus of a pretty good team -- and all were available long the first-round picks by any team that may have tanked to get a spot in the draft.




Number of players picked 1-5, 6-10, etc., through 26-30, then total number and percentage of those for draft class:

2010: 5-3-4-2-3-2, 19, 63 percent

2011: 5-5-5-5-5-4, 29, 97 percent

2012: 5-4-3-3-3-0, 18, 60 percent

2013: 4-3-4-3-5-4, 23, 77 percent

2014: 3-3-3-2-4-5, 20, 67 percent

2015: 5-3-3-4-2-2, 19, 63 percent

2016: 4-5-2-3-3-3, 20, 67 percent

2017: 2-4-4-2-2-2, 16, 53 percent

2018: 5-1-1-2-0-1, 10, 33 percent



1-5: 38, 87 percent

6-10: 31, 71 percent

11-15: 29, 69 percent

16-20: 26, 58 percent

21-25: 27, 60 percent

26-30: 23, 51 percent

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