The 2022 MLB Draft starts on Sunday, and with it comes infinite hope. Every player your team selects, you can imagine wearing your jersey and leading your team to the World Series. But it can sometimes be difficult to see that far into the future. This isn’t like the NBA, where you draft a guy and he’s in the starting lineup five months later. It takes time.
But eventually there is payoff. At some point, these guys are going to be on your team. So, to give everyone some hope, today we take a look at the best player currently on every roster that each team took in the Draft. At the time they were chosen, they were only a symbol of a vague future. Now they’re the best drafted player on their team.
Blue Jays: Alek Manoah (1st round, 2019)
The last pre-pandemic Draft featured Manoah as the 11th overall pick. Three years later, he’s an All-Star.
Orioles: Adley Rutschman (1st round, 2019)
It may have felt like it took forever for Rutschman to make his way to Baltimore, but it only seemed that way. He’ll be in the Majors until you are much grayer than you are now.
Rays: Shane McClanahan (Round 1C, 2018)
A team that is not actually known for its first-round drafting prowess sure got itself a winner four years ago.
Red Sox: Tanner Houck (1st round, 2017)
The Red Sox have acquired a lot of outside talent and developed more of their own through the international market -- Xander Bogaerts was signed in 2009 -- but their top Draftee is Houck, who leads the team in saves.
Yankees: Aaron Judge (1st round, 2013)
This is longer ago than I bet you realized Judge was drafted, isn’t it? Remember: He just turned 30.
Guardians: Shane Bieber (4th round, 2016)
The four players Cleveland drafted above Bieber? Will Benson, Nolan Jones, Logan Ice and Aaron Civale.
Royals: Bobby Witt Jr. (1st round, 2019)
Witt hasn’t established himself as an obvious superstar yet in Kansas City, but you sure can sense it coming.
Tigers: Riley Greene (1st round, 2019)
That 2019 Draft was awfully impressive, particularly at the top, wasn’t it?
Twins: Byron Buxton (1st round, 2012)
He is now teammates with the only man drafted above him that year, Carlos Correa.
White Sox: Tim Anderson (1st round, 2013)
When Anderson was drafted, the best hitter on the White Sox was probably … Adam Dunn?
Angels: Mike Trout (1st round, 2009)
Somehow, 2009 is also the last time the Angels won a playoff game.
Astros: Kyle Tucker (1st round, 2015)
Tucker will forever be underappreciated, but at least he has finally made his first All-Star team.
A’s: Sean Murphy (3rd round, 2016)
It’s more about future Draft picks for the A’s at this point, rather than past ones.
Mariners: Logan Gilbert (1st round, 2018)
The Mariners only have four players on their roster whom they drafted, which might be a reason they’ve been out of the playoffs for so long.
Rangers: Brett Martin (4th round, 2014)
The Rangers were once a fountain of young talent, but that has dried up a bit over the last half-decade.
Braves: Austin Riley (Round CB-A, 2015)
The Braves have a ton of options here, from Kyle Wright to Michael Harris II to Ian Anderson to A.J. Minter. A good sign.
Marlins: Brian Anderson (3rd round, 2014)
It only seems like Anderson has been on the team since its expansion year.
Mets: Jacob deGrom (9th round, 2010)
There are more current Mets draftees than you might think, from Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso to Dom Smith and David Peterson. This is not a team of free agents, contrary to how it might seem.
Nationals: Stephen Strasburg (1st round, 2009)
He’s on the injured list right now, but he’s still a huge success story.
Phillies: Aaron Nola (1st round, 2014)
For all the talk of the Phillies’ struggles for the last decade, Nola is a terrific first-round pick. There are other worthy choices here, too, including Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm and Darick Hall.
Brewers: Corbin Burnes (4th round, 2016)
It took a while, but this has turned out to be one of the most impressive Draft picks on this list.
Cardinals: Albert Pujols (13th round, 1999)
He did take a bit of an excursion out west for a decade or so. But the incredible story of the Cardinals getting an inner-circle Hall of Famer in the 13th round remains true.
Cubs: Ian Happ (1st round, 2015)
He arrived in the Majors just after the Cubs won the World Series, but now he has made an All-Star Game.
Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes (1st round, 2015)
Oneil Cruz has all the hype now, but Hayes is still the linchpin of everything this team will be doing, moving forward.
Reds: Joey Votto (2nd round, 2002)
If you are wondering what Votto looked like when the Reds drafted him 20 years ago, well, he’ll surely put it up on his Instagram soon.
D-backs: Alek Thomas (2nd round, 2018)
There have been some bumps in the road, but there are plenty of reasons to believe in Thomas moving forward.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw (1st round, 2006)
The Dodgers drafted high enough to grab Kershaw because they lost 91 games in 2005. They haven’t lost that many in a season since.
Giants: Brandon Crawford (4th round, 2008)
He isn’t having the best year of his career, but this is some truly incredible value.
Padres: MacKenzie Gore (1st round, 2017)
He took a bit of a detour from top prospect to star rookie, but he got there this year.
Rockies: Charlie Blackmon (2nd round, 2008)
At age 36, he’s having yet another above-average offensive year.