The start of the MLB Draft is one the most important dates on the baseball calendar.
It’s an opportunity for clubs to add new talent to their organizations. For fans, it’s a chance to dream about the next wave of future stars and follow these young players as they make their way up the Minor Leagues.
It’s also the perfect time for everyone to look back on the best Draft picks in franchise history and forget about the ones that didn’t work out.
For our American League West notebook this week, our beat reporters identified the best Draft pick of the team they cover. These are the best picks currently on the team’s roster or in the organization, with value as a consideration.
Angels: Mike Trout
One of the most incredible things about Trout is that, despite all his accolades and emergence as the best player of his generation, he was selected as the No. 25 overall pick in the 2009 Draft, and 21 teams passed over him. Trout hailed from New Jersey, and clubs were wary about the kind of talent he was facing in high school. The Angels, though, took Trout immediately after they selected Randal Grichuk with the No. 24 overall selection, and it paid off as one of the best selections in baseball history.
At 28 years old, Trout is already an eight-time All-Star and three-time AL MVP, and he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. Then-scouting director Eddie Bane deserves a lot of credit for having the conviction to select Trout, who has already become the best player in franchise history. -- Rhett Bollinger
Astros: Carlos Correa
The first pick of Jeff Luhnow's tenure as general manager saw the Astros take Correa, a 17-year-old shortstop from Puerto Rico, at No. 1 overall in 2012. The Astros signed him to a below-slot deal of $4.8 million ($7.2 million was the slot value), saving money so they could draft and sign right-handed pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. with the No. 41 pick overall and lure him away from his University of Florida scholarship, and fourth-round pick Rio Ruiz, an infielder committed to USC.
In Correa’s equation, their ability to add other players was part of the value of taking Correa with the top pick. Correa quickly became a star in his own right and is one of the game’s best shortstops, when healthy. McCullers has also made an All-Star team and is set to return this year after missing all of ’19 following Tommy John surgery. The Astros traded Ruiz to the Braves in the Evan Gattis deal. -- Brian McTaggart
Athletics: Matt Chapman
The A’s selection of Chapman at 25th overall in the 2014 Draft was questionable in the eyes of many Draft experts who had him rated as a second- to third-round pick. But as the years prove, Chapman is firmly establishing himself as arguably the top player of a Draft that saw notable names like Kyle Schwarber, Michael Conforto and Aaron Nola drafted before him.
Since reaching the Majors in June of 2017, Chapman’s 79 defensive runs saved lead all MLB players by a sizable margin. While his defensive excellence has been rewarded with two Gold and Platinum Glove Awards in each of his first two full big league seasons, Chapman’s bat is quickly catching up to his glove. He earned his first All-Star selection in 2019, and he also participated in his first Home Run Derby, finishing the year with a career-high 36 homers to go with a .249/.342/.506 slash line.
Since 2018, his combined 12.8 fWAR ranks sixth among all Major League position players, trailing only stars Trout (18.4), Mookie Betts (17.0), Alex Bregman (16.0), Christian Yelich (15.4) and Anthony Rendon (13.2). -- Martin Gallegos
Mariners: Kyle Seager
The Mariners targeted second baseman Dustin Ackley with their first-round pick in 2009, the second overall selection that year. But while scouting Ackley at North Carolina, they were intrigued enough by his college teammate -- Seager -- to pluck him in the third round with the 82nd overall selection. By that time, the Mariners had also used a pair of picks to grab a pair of high schoolers -- infielder Nick Franklin and catcher Steven Baron -- with the Nos. 27 and 33 selections before taking Georgia first baseman Rich Poythress in the second round (No. 51 overall).
But it is Seager who has survived and thrived in the ensuing years, now standing as the longest-tenured Mariner and the club’s starting third baseman for the past 8 1/2 years. Seager has hit 20-plus homers for eight straight seasons, earned an All-Star berth and Gold Glove Award, and compiled 32.5 bWAR, the fifth-highest total in franchise history among position players behind only Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez, as well as Ichiro Suzuki and Alex Rodriguez. -- Greg Johns
Rangers: Joe Palumbo
The left-hander had an interesting amateur career. A Long Island native, he transferred to St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip, N.Y., after his sophomore year but lost his senior year because of eligibility issues. He ended up pitching for a men’s league team called the Long Island Black Sox. The Rangers took him with the 30th overall pick in the 2013 Draft.
He had to overcome Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery but is currently ranked No. 9 among Rangers prospects by MLB Pipeline. He was 3-0 with a 3.01 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and 12 strikeouts per nine innings in 17 Minor League outings in 2019. He had a 9.18 ERA in seven games for the Rangers last season, but they see him as a future candidate for their starting rotation. -- T.R. Sullivan