Schools with the most first-round Draft picks

July 25th, 2023

MLB Draft prospects can come from many places. There are top picks from high schools, junior colleges and four-year universities big and small.

But it should be no surprise that certain schools have established themselves as powerhouses when it comes to producing first-round picks. And of course, most of those colleges are in major conferences.

Going back to the Draft’s inception in 1965, and looking at the schools that have generated the most first-rounders, there have been four high schools to produce four first-round picks: three high schools in southern California (Harvard-Westlake, Rancho Bernardo, Woodrow Wilson) and Hillsborough HS in Tampa, Fla. While those outputs are impressive in their own right, they don't come close to matching the nation’s elite college programs in terms of first-round talent.

Here’s a look at the schools to produce the most first-round picks, based on research by MLB Pipeline. Only true first-round picks from the primary June Draft qualified, which leaves out those from secondary Drafts, as well as compensatory and supplemental picks. Additionally, a school only gets credited when a pick signs, except for very rare cases where a pick did not sign, but then was drafted again in a later year and signed with an MLB team without having played at any schools in between (e.g., Florida State with J.D. Drew, whose situation will be elaborated on below). As such, if a player was picked in the first round out of the same school multiple times, that school can only get credit for, at most, one of those selections.

All WAR values are as of the beginning of the 2023 season.

1) Stanford: 23 first-rounders (10 in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 195.8
Most notable first-round pick:
(No. 20, BAL, 1990)

Stanford has been the most prolific school in terms of producing first-rounders, but that hasn’t always translated to MLB success. Of the eight players taken in the top five out of Stanford, four either did not reach the Majors or produced negative WAR there.

The school’s only No. 1 overall pick was , taken by the Astros in 2013. He stepped away from baseball temporarily in February 2018 after struggling in the Minors with Houston and Philadelphia, also dealing with a right shoulder injury in 2016. He did return to the sport and even appeared in six games with the Phillies in 2022, but he was released by Philadelphia in March 2023 and is not currently on a roster.

Though the school has had some hit-or-miss top 10 picks, it has also produced a Hall of Famer in Mike Mussina, whose 82.8 career WAR is second-most of any first-rounder in 1990 behind only No. 1 overall pick (85.3).

2-T) Arizona State: 21 first-rounders (14 in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 366.4
Most notable first-round pick:
(No. 6, PIT, 1985)

Arizona State has had its fair share of first overall picks, as the Sun Devils’ four No. 1 overall picks -- Rick Monday (1965, OAK), Floyd Bannister ('76, HOU), Bob Horner ('78, ATL),  ('20, DET) -- and 14 top-10 picks are both the most of any school. However, Torkelson and the Giants’ (10th, 2019) are the only top-10 ASU picks since in '09.

Barry Bonds, the school’s most notable pick, accumulated 162.8 WAR in his career, after the Pirates took him sixth overall in 1985. In fact, Arizona State has produced more value from Bonds and '66 No. 2 overall pick (74.0 WAR) than any other school has from all of its signed first-rounders combined.

2-T) Vanderbilt: 21 first-rounders (12 in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 119.0
Most notable first-round pick:
(No. 1, TB, 2007)

Vanderbilt has had two No. 1 overall picks, and both have been MLB All-Stars: David Price and , in 2015 by the D-backs. The school has had seven top-five picks, and they’ve all come since '07 -- three more such picks than any other school in that span. The only schools with more top-five picks ever are Stanford and Arizona State, with eight each. And keep in mind that Vanderbilt's top-five total doesn't even include Kumar Rocker, who was picked third after not playing college baseball in 2022 (but Vanderbilt gets credited for him being picked 10th in 2021, the most recent year he did play for the school). Even without Rocker's inclusion, Vanderbilt has still had a top-five pick in three of the past five Drafts, with Jack Leiter in 2021, Austin Martin in 2020 and JJ Bleday in 2019.

Vanderbilt has worked its way up this list recently. Since 2004, it has had 18 first-rounders, seven more than anywhere else. In addition to the players already mentioned, some other notable ones include (No. 7, ATL, '09), (No. 18, OAK, '11) and (No. 24, LAD, '15).

4) Texas: 17 first-rounders (eight in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 205.3
Most notable first-round pick:
(No. 19, BOS, 1983)

Texas hasn’t had any No. 1 overall picks, but it has produced eight top-10 picks, although just two have had a career WAR of 10 or higher, and two didn’t reach the Majors. The earliest a Texas player has been drafted is second overall -- Greg Swindell by Cleveland in 1986.

Only four of those Longhorns first-rounders have come since 2000, and none in the past ten years: Drew Stubbs (No. 8, CIN, 2006), Taylor Jungmann (No. 12, MIL, '11), Beau Hale (No. 14, BAL, '00) and Kyle McCulloch (No. 29, CWS, '06). Neither Hale nor McCulloch made the Majors.

5-T) Florida State: 16 first-rounders (six in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 147.2
Most notable first-round pick:
(No. 5, SF, 2008)

The Seminoles have had one No. 1 overall pick: , taken by the Mets in the 1994 Draft. Wilson was part of New York's infamous "Generation K," and he dealt with injuries throughout his career with the Mets, Devil Rays and Reds. He pitched 941 2/3 career innings with those three clubs, with a 4.86 ERA and 2.0 career WAR.

Buster Posey, the most recent of Florida State’s six top-10 picks, was also one of the most successful, as he had 44.8 WAR in his career, not to mention three World Series titles. The school’s only other pick in any round with more than 22 WAR is (44.9 WAR), who was taken No. 2 overall by the Phillies in 1997. He did not sign, and then he was drafted fifth in '98 by the Cardinals after playing for the independent St. Paul Saints rather than any college baseball, meaning FSU gets credit for his 1997 selection. Both Drew and Posey won the Golden Spikes Award in their final seasons at Florida State.

5-T) North Carolina: 16 first-rounders (seven in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 92.8
Most notable first-round pick:
(No. 1, MIL, 1985)

B.J. Surhoff, who produced 34.4 career WAR -- the most of any UNC first-round Draft pick -- is the school’s only No. 1 overall pick. It has had two players taken at No. 2: by the Indians in 1992 and by the Mariners in 2009. Neither reached 10 career WAR.

The Tar Heels have produced two top-10 picks since 2010: and . The Marlins took Moran sixth overall in '13. He’s since been traded twice, to the Astros and then the Pirates, and he has negative WAR thus far in his career. The Mets took Harvey seventh overall in '10 and he had a stellar breakout in '12-13, including an All-Star Game start in his home ballpark, before requiring Tommy John surgery. He helped the Mets to a World Series berth in '15 upon his return, but struggled with injuries after that and announced his retirement in 2023.

7) LSU: 15 first-rounders (nine in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 133.8
Most notable first-round pick:
(No. 2, HOU, 2015)

After LSU won the 2023 College World Series, it was no surprise that the Tigers made some Draft history. With Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews going 1-2 to the Pirates and Nationals, respectively, LSU became the first school to account for each of the top two picks in a Draft. Including that pair, LSU has had six top-10 picks since 2012 -- also , , Bregman and Jacob Berry. The Orioles took Gausman fourth overall in '12, Nola went seventh overall to the Phillies in '14, the Astros took Bregman second in '15, and Berry was picked sixth by the Marlins last year.

A non-first rounder from LSU worth noting is , who was taken in the second round in 1987 by Cleveland. Prior to Skenes, LSU's only No. 1 overall pick was Ben McDonald (BAL, 1989), who had 20.8 WAR in 1,291 1/3 innings over a nine-year career.

8-T) USC: 14 first-rounders (eight in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 141.1
Most notable first-round pick:
(No. 10, OAK, 1984)

USC has not had a No. 1 overall pick in the June Draft, but it does have one player who was taken second overall: , by the Cubs in 2001. Prior amassed 16.6 WAR in his short, injury-laden career.

No USC player has been taken in the first round since the A’s took shortstop 13th overall in 2009. He played in 129 games over five seasons, most recently in '17, and he accumulated minus-1.7 WAR.

While Mark McGwire is the most productive first-round pick from the Trojans, it’s worth mentioning that and were both drafted out of USC, too. But Seaver was taken in the secondary phase of the June Draft in 1966, and Johnson was a second-rounder in '85.

8-T) UCLA: 14 first-rounders (six in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 193.8
Most notable first-round pick:
Chase Utley (No. 15, PHI, 2000)

Gerrit Cole is UCLA’s only No. 1 overall pick (Pirates, 2011). The Bruins have had four top-five picks overall, including Troy Glaus at No. 3 by the Angels in 1997 and Cole’s college teammate Trevor Bauer at No. 3 by the D-backs, also in 2011. While Cole is surging up the list, Utley’s 64.4 career WAR is over 25 more than any other UCLA Draft pick.

UCLA's most recent first-rounder is 2021 No. 17 pick , who has had a breakout rookie season in 2023 for the Reds.

10-T) Clemson: 13 first-rounders (three in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 35.7
Most notable first-round pick:
(No. 1, PIT, 1996)

Kris Benson is Clemson’s only No. 1 overall pick, and one of just three Tigers to go in the top 10. His 12.9 WAR is the most of any Clemson first-rounder. Clemson had a player taken in the first round in back-to-back Drafts from 2018-19: Seth Beer by the Astros at No. 28 in 2018 and Logan Davidson by the A’s at No. 29 in '19.

10-T) University of Florida: 13 first-rounders (five in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 17.2
Most notable first-round pick: (No. 3, SEA, 2012)

Fresh off a championship loss to LSU in the 2023 College World Series, Florida cracked the top-10 of this list by adding a pair of first-rounders in outfielder Wyatt Langford (No. 4, TEX) and pitcher Huston Waldrep (No. 24, ATL). Florida's prior first-round picks have not seen much MLB success, though Zunino was a 2021 All-Star and was the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year.

Honorable mentions

Cal State Fullerton: 12 first-rounders (seven in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 129.1
Most notable first-round pick: (No. 25, OAK, 2014)

University of Arizona: 12 first-rounders (none in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 13.4
Most notable first-round pick: Joe Magrane (No. 18, STL, 1985)

Mississippi State University: 11 first-rounders (three in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 84.7
Most notable first-round pick: (No. 2, SF, 1985)

Rice University: 11 first-rounders (seven in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 107.9
Most notable first-round pick: (No. 16, HOU, 1997)

Wichita State University: 11 first-rounders (seven in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 40.2
Most notable first-round pick:
(No. 2, CHC, 1981)

University of Oklahoma: 11 first-rounders (five in top 10)
Career WAR of first-rounders: 31.4
Most notable first-round pick: (No. 3, TEX, 1985)