The Draft is the best and most cost-effective way to procure and control talent. It's virtually impossible to compete for postseason berths and World Series championships without identifying, selecting and signing future stars.
With that in mind, we take a look at each team's biggest Draft success in the last decade. Not surprisingly, 19 of the players below were first-round picks, including No. 1 overall choices Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson and Adley Rutschman. But there were several later-round finds as well, including the slugger who set a rookie record with 53 homers in the second round (Pete Alonso) and a pair of Cy Young Award winners in the fourth (Shane Bieber, Corbin Burnes).
Seven of them already have won World Series rings: Andrew Benintendi, Kris Bryant, Correa, Austin Riley, Corey Seager, Swanson and Trea Turner. Among that group, only Riley currently plays for the club that drafted him.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Red Sox: Andrew Benintendi, OF (2015, first round)
After Benintendi topped NCAA Division I with 20 homers and won the Golden Spikes Award as a sophomore, Boston ranked him No. 2 on its Draft board behind only Swanson and landed him at No. 7 overall. He joined the Red Sox 14 months later and helped them win the 2018 World Series with his bat and glove before going to the Royals in a three-team trade in February 2021. He's currently enjoying his best season since that '18 campaign.
Blue Jays: Bo Bichette, SS (2016, second round)
Bichette is in the midst of a down year, but he’s still one season removed from a five-win season and 12th-place finish in American League MVP voting. After signing for $1.1 million six years ago, the son of Dante Bichette quickly separated himself as a potential plus-plus hitter, winning a Minor League batting title in 2017, and that’s held up in the bigs with a career .290 average since his debut in 2019. Bichette has shown more power than expected from his Draft days too (e.g. his 29 homers last season), and his secure place at shortstop is one reason why the Jays have risen to contention to begin this decade. Cy Young candidate Alek Manoah (2019, first round) could eventually pass Bichette on this list if he continues to be an ace for multiple years.
Rays: Shane McClanahan, LHP (2018, first round/compensation)
Tampa Bay stayed local by taking the University of South Florida southpaw 31st overall with the pick it gained for the loss of Alex Cobb four years ago, and it hasn’t looked back since. McClanahan has been the AL’s most dominant pitcher through the first half of 2022 with a 1.77 ERA, 123 strikeouts and 16 walks in 91 1/3 innings. That last stat might be most impressive for anyone who followed the hard-throwing lefty coming out of the Draft. Potential control issues were thought to make McClanahan a bullpen candidate in the Majors, but the former Bull has improved mightily with his strike-throwing while still showing swing-and-miss stuff with all four of his pitches.
Yankees: Aaron Judge, OF (2013, first round)
Though they struck out on 2013 first-rounders Eric Jagielo (No. 26) and Ian Clarkin (No. 33), the Yankees knocked pick No. 32 out of the park. It seems hard to imagine now, but Judge lasted that long because there were concerns about how well his huge raw power would translate in the Majors after he homered just 18 times in three years at Fresno State. He went deep 56 times in three years in the Minors before nearly matching that total with an AL rookie-record 52 homers in '17, and he's on pace for his best season yet with a big league-best 29 blasts in 74 games in '22.
Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C (2019, first round)
Rutschman is obviously just getting started, and it took him a while to get his feet under him once he got called up, but he’s starting to show why he was the No. 1 overall pick with ridiculous tools on both sides of the ball.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: Shane Bieber, RHP (2016, fourth round)
Bieber stood out more with his control than his stuff at UC Santa Barbara, which he led to its first-ever College World Series appearance in 2016. He has significantly improved the velocity on his fastball and the quality of his breaking pitches as a pro, sandwiching a pair of All-Star nods in '19 and '21 around an AL Cy Young Award and pitching triple crown in '20.
White Sox: Tim Anderson, SS (2013, first round)
Undrafted out of high school and after his first year at East Central (Miss.) CC, Anderson became the most recent junior college position player popped in the first round (17th overall) after pacing NJCAA Division II in hitting (.495) and on-base percentage (.568). He earned the AL batting title in 2019 (.335), a Silver Slugger in '20 and his first All-Star Game nod last year, and he's currently hitting a career-high .340.
Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS/3B (2019, first round)
Witt came advertised as a potential franchise-level player three years ago and only went second because the Orioles took another franchise-level player in Rutschman. The debate will likely rage on for years to come over who took the better player. For his part, Witt (our No. 1 overall prospect coming into 2022) is settling in nicely in Kansas City and has solidified himself as one of the Majors’ toolsiest players with maximum exit velocity, sprint speed and arm strength at the top of the charts. The 22-year-old is hitting .253/.306/.510 in 53 games since the start of May, and you can expect those to improve as he gets even more comfortable with KC.
Tigers: Riley Greene, OF (2019, first round)
Detroit has made two No. 1 overall picks in the last decade, but Casey Mize has just undergone Tommy John surgery and Spencer Torkelson continues to struggle at the plate in his rookie season. So instead, we’ll go with a player the Tigers selected at the fifth overall spot. Greene has proven to be a plus hitter with plenty of power potential in his three years in the system. Still only 21, he recently joined the Major League club following a broken foot that kept him out of Opening Day plans, and he’s already made several highlight plays in center, proving his glove is ready for The Show too.
Twins: Byron Buxton, OF (2012, first round)
While it’s been frustrating to see injuries stall Buxton's career at times, he’s still one of the more impactful players in the game when he's healthy. His WAR is approaching 19 and he has a Gold Glove on his shelf already.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Astros: Carlos Correa, SS (2012, first round)
After several impressive pre-Draft workouts, Correa became the first Puerto Rican ever taken with the No. 1 overall pick. He won the 2017 World Series, three pennants, the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year Award, a Gold Glove and two All-Star Game berths in seven years with the Astros before signing with the Twins as a free agent last offseason.
Rangers: Joey Gallo, OF (2012, supplemental first round)
Gallo set the Nevada high school career record with 65 homers and also showed off a mid-90s fastball before signing for an over-slot $2.25 million as the 39th overall pick in 2012. His power and arm strength have translated into two 40-homer seasons, two All-Star selections and two Gold Gloves, though he has slumped terribly since going to the Yankees in a trade last July.
Angels: David Fletcher, SS (2015, sixth round)
While there’s still time for Brandon Marsh or Jo Adell to win the day here, we’ll go with the "value for where he was picked guy" in Fletcher. A sixth-rounder out of Loyola Marymount, Fletcher has been an outstanding defender who, before this year, had hit better than expected, amassing 9.9 WAR to date.
A’s: Matt Chapman, 3B (2014, first round)
Chapman has won three Gold Gloves, finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting twice and made an All-Star team. He’s now hitting homers and playing plus defense for the Blue Jays, up to 122 home runs and a 24.7 WAR in his career.
Mariners: Logan Gilbert, RHP (2018, first round)
This could end up being a really interesting debate between Gilbert, the 2018 first-rounder, and George Kirby, their top pick in '19. Gilbert, the Stetson product, gets the nod, as he’s been lights-out this year, compiling 2.5 of his 3.5 career WAR while currently sitting fifth in the American League in ERA (2.44).
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Marlins: Brian Anderson, 3B/OF (2014, third round)
While the Marlins haven't drafted a true star since the late José Fernández in 2011, Anderson has returned nice value for a third-rounder. The Arkansas product finished fourth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting in '18 and slammed 31 homers in his first two full big league seasons, but he has been waylaid by injuries the last two years.
Mets: Pete Alonso, 1B (2016, second round)
If you’re going to take a college first baseman in the first few rounds, that guy is going to have to hit a good amount to justify the pick. Two years after he moved from Florida to the Mets, Alonso led the Minor Leagues with 36 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A in 2018. One year after that, he led the Majors with 53 dingers and was named the NL Rookie of the Year. The 27-year-old continues to be a slugging force in Queens with an NL-best 22 homers entering Thursday and has already been well worth his $909,200 signing bonus out of the Draft.
Nationals: Lucas Giolito, RHP (2012, first round)
The fact we’re pushing this to the end of our date limit and choosing a player out of the organization speaks volumes. (Major League success for much of the 2010s kept Washington from a prominent Draft spot, for the record.) Giolito, who was taken 16th overall just before undergoing Tommy John surgery, eventually became a consensus Top 5 overall prospect before the 2016 season before his stock dropped a touch and he was traded to the White Sox that December in a deal for Adam Eaton. After some bumps in his early MLB career, the right-hander has finished in the Top 11 of AL Cy Young voting the last three seasons.
Braves: Austin Riley, 3B (2015, CB-A)
Most of the scouting industry preferred Riley as a pitcher, so the Braves get extra credit for taking Riley as a position player and letting him hit. He won his first Silver Slugger Award last year and he already has 18 homers this year, with 7.6 career WAR and climbing.
Phillies: Aaron Nola, RHP (2014, first round)
The former All-Star and Cy Young Award candidate had an off year in 2021, but Nola looks like he’s back to his previous form in '22, leading the Majors with his 8.38 K/BB ratio. That’s not new, as he’s amassed 10.1 K/9 and walked just 2.5 per nine in his career en route to a 27.2 WAR.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Cubs: Kris Bryant, 3B (2013, first round)
The Cubs selected Bryant second overall after the San Diego slugger led NCAA Division I with 31 homers and exceeded the total of 223 of the 296 teams at that level. In seven seasons in Chicago, he won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2015, a World Series and the NL MVP in '16 and garnered four All-Star Game berths. Traded to the Giants last July, he signed with the Rockies as a free agent last offseason.
Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B (2015, first round)
There’s a reason why the Pirates signed Hayes to a long-term extension this spring. He’s still finding his footing offensively, with a .747 OPS, but he’s done that while providing elite-level defense at the hot corner, allowing him to compile 7.3 WAR with the best yet to come.
Reds: Tyler Mahle, RHP (2013, seventh round)
The Reds did a great job scouting Mahle and signing him away from heading to UC Santa Barbara, where his older brother Greg pitched. They took him in the seventh round, but his 8.9 WAR places him tied for fifth among all pitchers from the 2013 Draft class.
Brewers: Corbin Burnes, RHP (2016, fourth round)
The 2016 Draft has produced a pair of Cy Young winners already. Both of them have come from the fourth round. One was Bieber. The other was Burnes, who took home NL honors just last year. The Saint Mary’s product threw 92-95 mph in college and on the Cape but might have been dinged a little for his lack of plus secondaries. His slider and curveball are significant swing-and-miss pitches now, complementing a mid-90s cutter that he’s thrown 56.1 percent of the time this season. Burnes remains Milwaukee’s ace and has a shot at a repeat Cy this fall.
Cardinals: Tommy Edman, INF (2016, sixth round)
There are some decent candidates here. Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan have been impressive rookies this season. Jack Flaherty has continued his injury woes but has shown flashes of being one of the best pitchers in the sport. Jordan Walker is on his way to being one of the game’s best prospects. But Edman has been arguably St. Louis’ most valuable player in 2022 and enters Thursday leading all MLB position players with a 4.5 bWAR. That’s primarily on the strength of his baserunning and defense, especially in his move from second to short, but he’s proven to be an above-average hitter too. Edman (13.3) is the only 2016 sixth-rounder with a career bWAR above 0.5.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
Rockies: Kyle Freeland, LHP (2014, first round)
Talk about a local kid done good. The Denver native went in the first round after he went from the Colorado high school ranks to the University of Evansville and was rewarded for his efforts in the Rockies’ rotation with a five-year contract extension this spring. He’s been a consistent starter who has a 15.2 WAR to date.
D-backs: Dansby Swanson, SS (2015, first round)
Arizona made Swanson its second-ever No. 1 overall pick seven years ago … and then traded him away six months later in a salary dump. The Vanderbilt product has been a solid contributor for the World Series champion Braves for seven seasons now and is in the midst of a career campaign that’s seeing him hit .295/.357/.488 with 13 homers through 76 games while providing his traditionally great defense. Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas and Jordan Lawlar -- all of whom were Top 25 overall prospects entering this season -- give D-backs fans better hope of an actual homegrown superstar.
Padres: Trea Turner, SS (2014, first round)
The pick and trade that led to a new rule. San Diego selected Turner 13th overall out of NC State in 2014 but included him as a player to be named later in a three-way trade with the Rays and Nationals that December. Because rules stipulated that players couldn’t be moved within one year of their Draft date, Turner couldn’t swap his Padres hat for a Nationals one until June 2015. He debuted for Washington that August after his hit tool and speed proved too good for the Minors, and he’s been one of the game’s best shortstops ever since. Seriously, since 2015, Turner’s 28.3 fWAR ranks fourth at the position behind only Francisco Lindor (37.7), Xander Bogaerts (31.6) and Carlos Correa (29.0).
Dodgers: Corey Seager, SS (2012, first round)
One of the best prep hitters in the 2012 class, Seager dropped a little amid signability concerns but proved a steal at $2.35 million ($400,000 over slot value at No. 18). The 2016 NL Rookie of the Year, he was an All-Star and Silver Slugger winner in each of his first two full big league seasons before claiming NLCS and World Series MVP honors en route to a championship in '20. He signed the largest free-agent deal of last offseason, a 10-year, $325 million pact with the Rangers.
Giants: Bryan Reynolds, OF (2016, second round)
Reynolds had the tools and track record of performance at Vanderbilt to merit going in the first round, but he inexplicably lasted 59 picks in 2016. The Giants didn't hang on to him, however, spinning him to the Pirates in the Andrew McCutchen trade in January 2018. He has been Pittsburgh's best player ever since and gained All-Star recognition a year ago.