Buster Posey had a monster year as a Florida State junior in 2008, leading NCAA Division I in hitting (.463), on-base percentage (.566) and slugging (.879). After enjoying previous success as a high school pitcher and college shortstop, he offered even more positional value by making a smooth transition to catcher the year before.
Posey has proven to be easily the most valuable player in his Draft class, winning three World Series championships, making five All-Star Games and claiming a National League MVP Award and a batting title.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
So how exactly did Posey last until the fifth overall pick?
The Rays had the No. 1 overall choice, and they were divided between Georgia high school shortstop Tim Beckham and Posey, with a smattering of support for San Diego left-hander Brian Matusz. Tampa Bay has a long history of taking the most financially advantageous deal in the first round, and Posey may have scared it off when word came out the night before the Draft that he wanted a record $12 million. The Rays took Beckham and signed him for $6.15 million spread over five years.
At No. 2, the Pirates were locked in on Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez, considered the best offensive player available. The Royals considered Posey at No. 3 but ultimately went for Florida prep first baseman Eric Hosmer. The Orioles had just taken college catcher Matt Wieters with the fifth overall selection the year before, so they opted for Matusz.
"You never assume anything in this business," said John Barr, then San Francisco's scouting director and still in charge of the club's Drafts as its vice president and assistant GM for scouting and international operations. "It wasn't until the day of the Draft and the Orioles made their pick that we knew we were getting Buster Posey.
"At times we thought Buster would go 1-1 or maybe the Royals would take him. But we kept on staying positive that Buster would get to us. He was our guy."
If teams knew then what they know now, Posey never would have made it to the Giants. Here's how the entire first round would have unfolded, with the benefit of hindsight. We didn't consider players who were drafted but didn't sign, such as Gerrit Cole (first round, Yankees), Anthony Rendon (27th round, Braves) and George Springer (48th round, Twins).
1. Rays: Buster Posey, C, Florida State
(Actual pick: Tim Beckham, SS, Griffin, Ga., HS. Posey: first round, No. 5, Giants.)
Posey would have been a huge upgrade at catcher for Tampa Bay clubs that lost in the American League Division Series in 2010, '11 and '13 and just missed the playoffs in '12. Beckham was supposed to be a five-tool shortstop, but his athleticism never seemed to live up to its advance billing after he entered pro ball. He finally emerged as a regular last year with the Rays and Orioles, but he struggled and got hurt this year and just missed making this redraft.
Video: Giants select Buster Posey in the first round
2. Pirates: Brandon Crawford, SS, UCLA
(Actual pick: Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt. Crawford: fourth round, Giants.)
Though Crawford was one of the best defensive shortstops available, he had hit just .189 with wood in the Cape Cod League the previous summer and had swing-and-miss issues during his Draft year. He lasted 117 picks and the Giants came away with the top two players in the Draft, as Crawford has won three Gold Gloves and developed some surprising pop. While Alvarez tied for the NL home run lead in 2013, he had unexpected trouble making consistent contact and provided no defensive value.
3. Royals: Eric Hosmer, 1B, American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.
(Actual pick: Hosmer.)
The Royals came closer to taking Posey than anyone before the Giants, but they have no regrets about going with Hosmer, the best high school bat in the 2008 class. He became an All-Star and Gold Glover while helping Kansas City win two pennants and the '15 World Series.
Video: Royals select Eric Hosmer in the first round
4. Orioles: Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Wallace State-Hanceville (Ala.) CC
(Actual pick: Brian Matusz, LHP, San Diego. Kimbrel: third round, Braves.)
One of the most dominant closers in big league history, Kimbrel turned down the Braves as a 33rd-rounder in 2007 before signing as a third-rounder the following year, when he consistently threw in the mid to upper 90s. Matusz offered floor and ceiling as a lefty with stuff, polish and a track record of performance, but he never established himself as a starter despite joining Baltimore's rotation less than a year after signing.
5. Giants: Charlie Blackmon, OF, Georgia Tech
(Actual pick: Posey. Blackmon: second round, Rockies.)
Drafted out of high school and junior college as a left-handed pitcher, Blackmon talked his way into outfield playing time in summer ball in 2007 and hit his way into the second round a year later. He found his calling, as he has won a batting title and two Silver Slugger Awards.
Video: Charlie Blackmon looks back on his 2004 Draft choice
6. Marlins: Tanner Roark, RHP, Southern Illinois Miners (Frontier League)
(Actual pick: Kyle Skipworth, C, Patriot HS, Riverside, Calif. Roark: 25th round, Rangers.)
Roark rising to the sixth-best player in this crop is a testament to his perseverance and a tremendous job of projection by the Rangers, and it also helps illustrate how weak this Draft was. He flunked out of Illinois as a senior in 2008 and signed with the independent Frontier League, where he gave up 25 runs in 9 2/3 innings. Texas still drafted Roark in the 25th round and gave him a mere $1,000 bonus, and he developed into a solid starter for the Nationals after they traded Cristian Guzman for him. Skipworth set a California prep record with 18 consecutive hits that April and rated as the best high school catching prospect since Joe Mauer, but he batted .211 over nine Minor League seasons and went 0-for-3 in his brief time in the Majors.
7. Reds: Lance Lynn, RHP, Mississippi
(Actual pick: Yonder Alonso, 1B, Miami. Lynn: supplemental first round, Cardinals.)
Lynn's polish and durability stood out more than his stuff, but these days a pitcher with his track record of success in the Southeastern Conference and with Team USA wouldn't last 39 picks like he did. He won 71 games in five seasons as a starter in St. Louis, while Alonso was supposed to have one of the higher floors in the Draft but didn't break out until hitting 28 homers last year.
8. White Sox: Josh Harrison, 2B, Cincinnati
(Actual pick: Gordon Beckham, SS, Georgia. Harrison: sixth round, Cubs.)
Harrison was the Big East Conference Player of the Year, but he lasted six rounds because he was 5-foot-8 and had a less-than-smooth swing as well as no obvious plus tool. He has blown past expectations by making two All-Star Games while playing five positions. Beckham looked destined for stardom after nearly leading Georgia to a national title and then hitting 14 homers with the White Sox the next year, but his bat wilted afterward.
Video: White Sox select Gordon Beckham for the first round
9. Nationals: Logan Forsythe, 3B, Arkansas
(Actual pick: Aaron Crow, RHP, Missouri. Forsythe: supplemental first round, Padres.)
Forsythe lived up to his scouting reports, which pegged him as a versatile player with decent hitting ability, power and on-base skills. The Nationals sparred with Crow's agents, the Hendricks brothers, and he went unsigned when the two sides wouldn't bridge the gap between $3.5 million and $4 million. The Royals signed Crow as the 12th overall choice in 2009 and he made the All-Star Game as a rookie reliever two years later, though his career fizzled following Tommy John surgery in 2015.
10. Astros: Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Highland (Ill.) HS
(Actual pick: Jason Castro, C, Stanford. Odorizzi: supplemental first round, Brewers.)
Some scouts valued Odorizzi as the best high school right-hander in the Draft, an assessment that has proven correct. Castro was considered more of a late first-rounder and a reach at No. 10, but he has outperformed seven of the nine players selected ahead of him.
11. Rangers: Dee Gordon, SS, Seminole (Fla.) CC
(Actual pick: Justin Smoak, 1B, South Carolina. Gordon: fourth round, Dodgers.)
More of a basketball star in high school, Gordon attended Southeastern (Fla.) before transferring to Seminole (Fla.) CC so he could enter the 2008 Draft, but a grade mixup left him ineligible to play. Dee's father Tom, who was still pitching in the big leagues, tipped off his former roommate, then-Dodgers farm director DeJon Watson, about his son, who blossomed into a two-time All-Star, three-time NL steals leader and 2015 NL batting champ. As a switch-hitting first baseman with power, Smoak drew comparisons to Mark Teixeira, but he had only sporadic success before smashing 38 homers last year.
12. Athletics: Tyler Chatwood, RHP, Redlands (Calif.) East Valley HS
(Actual pick: Jemile Weeks, 2B, Miami. Chatwood: second round, Angels.)
Though some scouts preferred Chatwood as a potential five-tool outfielder and others worried about his small build, he owned one of the best curveballs in the Draft and became a successful if not especially durable starting pitcher. Weeks was supposed to have one of the best combinations of hitting ability, speed and athleticism available, but he did little after a strong 2011 rookie season.
13. Cardinals: Alex Avila, C, Alabama
(Actual pick: Brett Wallace, 3B, Arizona State. Avila: fifth round, Tigers.)
Avila had some offensive upside but a questionable reputation as a defender, and the Tigers taking him in the fifth round looked like a bit of a nepotism overdraft because his father Al was Detroit's assistant GM at the time (and is now GM). He proved a better catcher than expected and a steal as the 163rd overall choice. Arguably the best pure hitter available, Wallace hit .238 with modest power as a big leaguer and was a defensive liability.
14. Twins: Jason Castro, C, Stanford
(Actual pick: Aaron Hicks, OF, Wilson HS, Long Beach, Calif. Castro: first round, No. 10, Astros.)
The Twins actually landed Castro as a free agent after the 2016 season and got a productive '17 out of him before he tore the meniscus in his right knee this year. The top two-way prospect in the 2008 Draft, Hicks had five-tool potential as an outfielder and reached 97 mph with his fastball while flashing a nasty curveball on the mound. He could have been a mid-first-rounder either way and finally started to take off last year with the Yankees.
15. Dodgers: Aaron Hicks, OF/RHP, Wilson HS, Long Beach, Calif.
(Actual pick: Ethan Martin, RHP, Stephens County HS, Toccoa, Ga. Hicks: first round, No. 14, Twins.)
Martin rivaled Hicks as a two-way talent, entering 2008 prized more as a power-hitting third baseman but going in the middle of the first round as a right-hander with a mid-90s fastball and a pair of possible plus secondary pitches. He never threw consistent strikes as a pro and pitched just 44 innings in the Majors.
16. Brewers: Brett Lawrie, 3B/C, Brookswood SS, Langley, B.C.
(Actual pick: Lawrie.)
The best Canadian hitting prospect since Justin Morneau, Lawrie went to the Blue Jays in a 2010 trade for Shaun Marcum and batted .293/.373/.580 as a 21-year-old rookie the next year. He never approached those numbers again and has been out of baseball since '16 after wearing out his welcome in Toronto, Oakland and Chicago. Lawrie still has the sixth-highest career WAR (B-Ref) total (15.1) among 2008 draftees who signed and would rank higher here if it looked like he might add to it.
17. Blue Jays: Andrew Cashner, RHP, Texas Christian
(Actual pick: David Cooper, 1B, California. Cashner: first round, No. 19, Cubs.)
Drafted by the Braves (20th round) out of high school and the Rockies (18th round) and Cubs (29th round) out of Angelina (Texas) JC, Cashner signed with Chicago the second time around after turning into a first-rounder during his lone year at Texas Christian. A reliever with the Horned Frogs, he joined the Cubs in that role by 2010 but became a full-time starter with the Padres in '13. A hit-over-power first baseman with limited defensive ability, Cooper totaled just 211 big league at-bats.
18. Mets: Lonnie Chisenhall, SS, Pitt (N.C.) CC
(Actual pick: Ike Davis, 1B, Arizona State. Chisenhall: first round, No. 29, Indians.)
After getting dismissed from South Carolina after pleading guilty to grand larceny and burglary, Chisenhall put his career back together in junior college and has carved out a niche as a platoon player in Cleveland. Davis was the opposite of Cooper, a power-over-hit first baseman with a good glove, but he did little beyond a 32-homer season in 2012.
19. Cubs: Yonder Alonso, 1B, Miami
(Actual pick: Cashner. Alonso: first round, No. 7, Reds.)
Miami tied a college record with three first-rounders in one Draft, but Alonso didn't live up to his status as the No. 7 overall pick, and neither Weeks nor Carlos Gutierrez (Twins, No. 27) panned out. Cashner's main value to the Cubs was bringing back Anthony Rizzo in a 2012 trade with the Padres.
Video: Reds select Yonder Alonso for the first round
20. Mariners: Collin McHugh, RHP, Berry (Ga.)
(Actual pick: Josh Fields, RHP, Georgia. McHugh: 18th round, Mets.)
Though McHugh was a Division III right-hander with more pitchability than stuff, he still landed an $80,000 bonus in the 18th round. Since joining the Astros on a waiver claim, he won 19 games in 2015 and a World Series ring last year. The second of three straight college relievers drafted, Fields spurned the Braves as a '07 second-rounder and didn't sign with the Mariners until February '09. He battled his control and command for years before turning a corner after joining the Dodgers in a mid-2016 trade.
21. Tigers: Justin Smoak, 1B, South Carolina
(Actual pick: Ryan Perry, RHP, Arizona. Smoak: first round, No. 11, Rangers.)
Of the record five college first basemen taken in 2008's first round, only Alonso and Smoak have had passable careers. Perry was a flamethrowing reliever who got to Detroit quickly, but he didn't last long because he didn't throw enough strikes.
22. Mets: Brad Brach, RHP, Monmouth
(Actual pick: Reese Havens, SS, South Carolina. Brach: 42nd round, Padres.)
The lowest pick in our first-round do-over, Brach got a $1,000 bonus and a shot at pro ball as a 42nd-rounder because of his strike-throwing ability. He has strung together six straight effective seasons as a reliever and even made the 2016 All-Star Game. The only lower choices who have made the Majors from '08 are 43rd-rounders Oliver Drake (Orioles) and Cody Eppley (Rangers) and 50th-rounder Nik Turley (Yankees). The Red Sox would have taken Havens over Jacoby Ellsbury in '05's first round had he been signable, but he never played in the big leagues because he couldn't stay healthy.
23. Padres: Mike Montgomery, LHP, Hart HS, Santa Clarita, Calif.
(Actual pick: Allan Dykstra, 1B, Wake Forest. Montgomery: supplemental first round, Royals.)
Montgomery once ranked as the best left-handed pitching prospect in the Minors, and while he got derailed and didn't reach the Majors until 2015, he has become a useful swingman and saved Game 7 of the '16 World Series for the Cubs. Dykstra had power and drew a lot of walks, but he couldn't parlay that into more than a cup of coffee with the '15 Rays.
24. Phillies: Brad Hand, LHP, Chaska (Minn.) HS
(Actual pick: Anthony Hewitt, SS, Salisbury, Conn., School. Hand: second round, Marlins.)
Minnesota's best prep prospect since Joe Mauer went 1-1 in 2001, Hand was inconsistent in five years with the Marlins before becoming a quality reliever with the Padres. Hewitt was a tremendous athlete who came with serious questions about his bat -- and he hit .223/.265/.368 in eight pro seasons while topping out in Double-A.
25. Rockies: Wade Miley, LHP, Southeastern Louisiana
(Actual pick: Christian Friedrich, LHP, Eastern Kentucky. Miley: supplemental first round, Diamondbacks.)
Both of these left-handers helped themselves by pitching well in the Cape Cod League and stood out most with their breaking balls, Miley with a slider and Friedrich with a curveball. Miley made the All-Star Game in his first full big league season in 2012, but he has gone downhill from there, while Friedrich had trouble staying healthy long enough to establish himself in the Majors.
26. D-backs: Jordy Mercer, SS, Oklahoma State
(Actual pick: Daniel Schlereth, LHP, Arizona. Mercer: third round, Pirates.)
Mercer's tools weren't as loud as the Beckham's, but he proved to be a more reliable hitter and has far surpassed them both. He also was a closer for the Cowboys, impressive with a low-90s fastball and a hard slider. Like his Arizona teammate Perry, Schlereth threw hard out of the bullpen but didn't provide enough strikes once he got to the big leagues.
27. Twins: Danny Espinosa, SS, Long Beach State
(Actual pick: Carlos Gutierrez, RHP, Miami. Espinosa: third round, Nationals.)
Part of Long Beach State's storied tradition of shortstops, Espinosa had uncommon power for a middle infielder, but he didn't make enough consistent contact to endure as a regular in the Majors. The third of three 2008 first-rounders who never got to the big leagues, Gutierrez was a surprise choice at No. 27 and just couldn't miss enough bats with a sinker that was his only above-average pitch.
28. Yankees: Nathan Eovaldi, RHP, Alvin (Texas) HS
(Actual pick: Gerrit Cole, RHP, Orange, Calif., Lutheran HS. Eovaldi: 11th round, Dodgers.)
Eovaldi had Tommy John surgery in the May of his junior high school season, then rushed back for his senior year and impressed scouts by hitting 92 mph. He reached 100 mph as he got stronger in pro ball, but he hasn't blown away big league hitters as much as his velocity suggests he should. Cole might have had the most electric arm in the 2008, but he was strongly committed to UCLA and negotiations never really got going. He went No. 1 overall to the Pirates in '11.
29. Indians: Tyson Ross, RHP, California
(Actual pick: Chisenhall. Ross: second round, Athletics.)
Scouts loved Ross' three-pitch mix that included a fastball up to 96 mph, but they worried that his delivery put too much stress on his arm, foreshadowing his inability to stay on the mound as a pro. He was good during a healthy three-year stretch with the Padres in 2013-15 and is off to a promising start now that he's back with San Diego this year. Chisenhall was an unexpected first-rounder, but he turned out to be a worthy selection.
30. Red Sox: Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt
(Actual pick: Casey Kelly, RHP/SS, Sarasota (Fla.) HS. Alvarez: first round, No. 2 overall, Pirates.)
The Red Sox thought they had signed Alvarez for $850,000 as a 14th-rounder out of high school in 2005, but Vanderbilt held onto him after a strong re-recruiting effort. He's just one of 10 actual first-rounders to go that high in our redraft. Boston gave Kelly $3 million because it believed he was the most advanced prep pitcher available and he had the leverage of a scholarship to play quarterback at Tennessee. He insisted on playing shortstop to begin his pro career and developed into a blue-chip pitching prospect once he got that out of his system, but repeated arm problems have limited him to 62 big league innings.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.