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The #1 Overall Picks of the Past Decade

If you haven't already heard, the D-Backs have the number one pick in this year's amateur player draft. They should get the best player, right? As the past 10 years have shown us, that is not always the case.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

After a dismal 2014, one glimmer of hope us D-Backs fans had going into this year was the fact that we owned the number one pick in the draft. Just because you have the number one pick doesn't mean that you will get the best player in your draft though. As has been discussed in many articles here at the 'Pit, there is no clear-cut number one pick, and nobody who would be considered a "once in a generation" talent. In this article, I will attempt to see what the odds are of the D-Backs picking the right guy in this year's draft by taking a look at the number one picks of the past 10 years.


2005-2011

Below each player, you will see his debut, his bWAR, other notable picks, where I would rank him compared to the rest of the class and to other guys drafted at his position, awards and honors he's received, and ending with my thoughts on the pick. So, let us begin with a name I'm sure we are all familiar with here...

2005: Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Date of MLB debut: August 2, 2007
  • bWAR to date: 22.2
  • Other notable 1st round picks: Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce
  • Awards/Honors: 2 All-Star games, 2 Silver Sluggers
  • Overall rank/OF Rank: 5th/3rd

Justin Upton has been a very productive player throughout his career, though he never became that superstar we all hoped for. After batting .319 with 18 homers between High A and AA ball in 2007, Upton was called up in August of 2007. He struggled in '07, batting .221 with 2 homers in 43 games, though these struggles were understandable for a nineteen year old. 2008 saw Upton find his power stroke, with 15 homers in 108 games. 2009 was when Justin really broke out though, where he batted .300 and hit 26 dingers, good enough for his first all star appearance. Upton has been very consistent since, rattling off 7 straight seasons with an OPS+ of 100 or more. He is currently on track for one of the best seasons of his career, with 12 homers and a .293 average in San Diego. If Upton were in another draft he would probably come in ranked 2nd or 3rd in the draft class, but 2005 was one of the strongest classes in history with franchise players like Andrew McCutchen and Troy Tulowitzki being selected. Overall, I'd say the Diamondbacks made a very good selection going with Upton.

2006: Luke Hochevar, P, Kansas City Royals
  • Date of MLB debut: September 8, 2007
  • bWAR to date: 2.3
  • Other notable 1st round picks: Evan Longoria, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Max Scherzer
  • Awards/Honors: None
  • Overall rank/P Rank: 12th/9th

When I was looking through the list of number one picks and came across Hochevar, I must admit I was not entirely certain who that was. This is generally not a good sign when you are a former number one overall pick. He had actually been drafted in the 2005 draft 40th overall by the Dodgers, but did not sign. I would imagine the Dodgers now feel okay about this. Hochevar debuted in September of 2007, and pitched 12.2 innings with a 2.13 ERA  that season. To say things went downhill from there would be an understatement. From 2008-2012, the Royals righty started 127 games, with an ERA of 5.45 In those 5 seasons, his best ERA was 4.68. Yikes. Luke bounced back in 2013 though, this season as a middle reliever, posting a 1.92 ERA. He was not able to build on this season though, tearing his UCL before the 2014 season. This year, he has only pitched 5 innings with a 7.20 ERA in this limited time. The Royals have to be kicking themselves for this pick, especially when 2 current aces and one former ace were selected in the first round, along with two other quality arms Ian Kennedy and Brandon Morrow. Kansas City completely missed with this pick.

2007: David Price, P, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
  • Date of MLB debut: September 14, 2008
  • bWAR to date: 24.1
  • Other notable 1st round picks: Mike Moustakas, Matt Wieters, Madison Bumgarner, Jason Heyward, Josh Donaldson, Rick Porcello
  • Awards/Honors: 4 All-Star games, 1 Cy Young Award
  • Overall rank/P Rank: 1st/1st

David Price is one of the best, most consistent guys on this list. Price dominated minor league teams at all levels, going 12-1 with a 2.30 ERA before getting called up in mid-September of 2008. Price was very good in his first look at Major League hitting, with a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings. He would struggle in his first year as a full time starter, posting a 4.42 ERA, but his would prove to be a fluke. From 2010 to today, he has had an ERA of 3.07, made 4 all star games, and won a Cy Young Award. Not too shabby. 2012 was his best season, where he led the AL in wins (20) and ERA (2.56) and was just 32 strikeouts from a triple crown. Price is showing no signs of slowing down either, with a 2.97 ERA this season. Price has been by far the best player to come out of the 2007 draft, and the Rays hit the jackpot on this pick.

2008: Tim Beckham, SS, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
  • Date of MLB debut: September 19, 2013
  • bWAR to date: 0.1
  • Other notable 1st round picks: Pedro Alvarez, Eric Hosmer, Buster Posey, Gordon Beckham, Lance Lynn, Brett Lawrie
  • Awards/Honors: None
  • Overall rank/SS Rank: 22nd/2nd

Tim Beckham is probably, up to this point in time, the biggest bust on this list. According to Baseball America, going into the draft the Rays were trying to decide between Beckham and some dude named Buster Posey. The Rays selected the high school shortstop. Whoops. Beckham struggled in the Rays farm system for 5 and a half years, batting around .265 until he finally got the call to the majors late in September. He only received 8 plate appearances in this stint. He spent all of 2014 back in the minors, where he performed very similarly to how he did before his MLB debut. This season was the first season he has actually had a full time big league role, where he has played 36 games and batted .215 with 5 homers. Not very good, but this is his first taste of big league action. The good news for Rays fans is that he is only 25, so he still has time to turn things around. He could still become a productive big league middle infielder, but at this point it looks like he was a big bust considering where he was selected in the draft.

2009: Stephen Strasburg, P, Washington Nationals
  • Date of MLB debut: June 8, 2010
  • bWAR to date: 11.3
  • Other notable 1st round picks: Mike Leake, A.J. Pollock, Mike Trout, Shelby Miller, Dustin Ackley
  • Awards/Honors: 1 All-Star game
  • Overall rank/P Rank: 2nd/1st

Strasburg was considered by basically everyone in the baseball world to be the top talent in the 2009 draft. He has proven that he does have that elite talent, just it doesn't show at times. Strasburg's debut in 2010 was possibly one of the most hyped debuts, and he did not disappoint anyone, striking out 14 guys. He would go on to start 12 games that season with a 2.91 ERA. 2011 was the year Strasburg tore his UCL and had Tommy John surgery, which was the hot topic of discussion everywhere. Enter 2012, the year when the world almost exploded with hot takes on whether the Nationals should/shouldn't shut Strasburg down. I will not discuss this because I'm sure you have heard enough about that ordeal. 2013 and 2014 were productive years, where Strasburg had an ERA in the low 3's each year. Suddenly in 2015 Strasburg has forgotten how to pitch, with an ERA of 6.50 in 9 starts. It will be interesting to see if these struggles continue. Strasburg is without a doubt the second best player drafted, behind only Mike Trout.  The Nationals definitely did well with the number one pick this draft.

2010: Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
  • Date of MLB debut: April 28, 2012
  • bWAR to date: 14.2
  • Other notable 1st round picks: Manny Machado, Matt Harvey, Chris Sale
  • Awards/Honors: 2 All-Star games, 1 ROY
  • Overall rank/OF Rank: 2nd/1st

Another draft with the Nats holding the first pick, another "generational" talent. This time it was in the form of outfielder Bryce Harper. Bryce had a good year in A and AA ball, where he batted .297 and hit 11 homers, doing all this with an age differential of -4.4 compared to the rest of those leagues. In 2012, his debut season, Bryce batted .270 with 22 homers, and an OPS+ of 118. I'd say this was a phenomenal season for Harper since he was only 19 during the season. 2013 and 2014 saw him have very similar seasons, with 2013 being the best of the three years. He batted .274 with 20 homers in just 118 games. This year, Harper has been absolutely killing the ball, and has been the best player of the 2015 season- and he's just 22. Harper is batting .331, and leads the league with 18 home runs. He also leads the league in other categories such as: runs scored, RBIs, walks, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, and total bases. I'd say that's solid. If Harper can maintain a level of play anywhere near this, he will soon overtake the guy who I feel has been the best so far in this draft class, Chris Sale. The Nats are 2 for 2 in 1st overall picks.

2011: Gerrit Cole, P, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Date of MLB debut: June 11, 2013
  • bWAR to date:
  • Other notable 1st round picks: (Note: since this draft is fairly recent and some guys are just getting called up, I'm just going to list the top 5 guys in WAR for this part) Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray, Anthony Rendon, Kolten Wong
  • Awards/Honors: None
  • Overall rank/P Rank: too soon to tell

It's kind of tough to tell how this pick will work out for the Pirates, since Cole is just entering his 3rd year in the majors. So far, he has been a solid arm for the Pirates. He was very good at 3 levels in the minors during 2012, where he had an ERA of 2.80. In 2013, he pitched 12 games where he went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA. After being called up during June of 2013, Cole had a very productive season with a 3.22 ERA. 2014 was a decent year with a 3.65 ERA. While not phenomenal, you have to remember that this was his first full season in the bigs. He has been terrific so far this year, holding an impressive 2.11 ERA. If he can keep an ERA around 3 or below throughout his career, I'd say the Pirates made a very good pick. It is tough to rank him compared to others in his class since we are just a couple years removed from the draft, but if he can continue at a level where he is now, he will be right around the top.

2012-2013

For these 2 picks, I will just be telling you their scouting grades on the 20-80 scale according to fangraphs and some minor league stats since none of these guys have played in a major league game.

2012: Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
  • Hit: 20/60 Game Power: 20/55 Raw Power: 60/65 Fielding: 50/55 Throw: 65/65 Future Value: 65

Now that Kris Bryant has been called up, the next big prospect everyone is talking about is Carlos Correa. In 2013, Correa batted .320 with 9 homers in A ball. In 2014, he batted .325 with 6 homers in High-A ball, and this year he has batted .344 across AA and AAA. He may be getting a call to the bigs any day now, and judging by his minor league numbers it seems that he will have a lot of success.

2013: Mark Appel, P, Houston Astros
  • Fastball: 60/65 Slider: 55/65 Changeup: 50/60 Command: 40/50 Future Value: 60

Hey look another Astros first overall pick. This one does not appear to be working out as well. In 2013, Appel had a 3.79 ERA in Low-A and A ball. This is decent, especially in his first season going against "pros". Things did not go well at all in 2014, where he put up a 6.91 ERA in High-A and AA. Yikes, that is no bueno. Things do not appear to be going much better this year, where Appel has an ERA of 6.03. While this is bad, I wouldn't get too worried because it is just his 3rd year in the minors, and he is only 23. It is too early to decide if this pick will work out.

2014: Brady Aiken, P

Well, this didn't work out too well for the Astros as Aiken did not sign. The Astros were given the 2nd overall pick in this year's draft as compensation. Since Aiken is not currently on a professional team, we don't care about him and nothing else will be written about him here.

Conclusion

It looks like most teams have done well with the number one pick. Of the 7 guys who have been called up to the Majors, there are 3 fantastic players, 1 very good player, 1 guy who looks like he will be good, 1 guy whose future looks bleak, and 1 complete bust. Based on these results and the fact that this is being described as a very "safe" draft, I like the Dbacks' chances of getting an All-Star caliber player.