Yelich to DC? Harper to the Tribe? 2010 Draft re-do

May 17th, 2020

The 2010 Draft had a clearly defined big three. Bryce Harper had graced the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16 the year before, and the most hyped prospect in Draft history was going No. 1 overall to the Nationals. Then it was just a matter of whether the Pirates would choose Manny Machado or Jameson Taillon at No. 2, leaving the other guy for the Orioles at No. 3.

Though Harper and Machado have had more successful careers than most high-end picks, combining for 10 All-Star Game appearances and $630 million in free-agent contracts, neither ranks among the three best players to come out of the 2010 Draft. Nor does Taillon, who has looked like a frontline starter when healthy, but is in the midst of recovering from his second Tommy John surgery.

If teams knew then what we know now, the 2010 Draft would have played out much differently. Only 10 first-round picks back then went in the top 32 in our 2010 redraft below, with the Marlins leading all teams with three retroactive first-rounders -- including two of the first seven selections. We made our choices based on past and projected future production.

For the purposes of this exercise, we didn't include players who were drafted but didn't sign, such as Kris Bryant (18th round, Blue Jays), Aaron Judge (31st round, Athletics) and Jon Gray (13th round, Royals). All three would become first-rounders after three years of college, with Bryant and Gray going 2-3 in 2013.

1. Nationals: Christian Yelich, 1B, Westlake HS (Westlake Village, Calif.)
Actual pick: Bryce Harper, OF, JC of Southern Nevada. Yelich: first round, No. 23, Marlins.

Yelich was an advanced high school hitter who produced against top competition on the California high school and national showcase circuits, but there were questions about his power and he was playing out of position at first base. He lasted 23 picks before signing with the Marlins for an over-slot $1.7 million, then needed less than three years to reach Miami. He found a new gear after getting traded to the Brewers before the 2018 season, becoming a National League MVP and a Triple Crown threat. Harper famously passed up his last two seasons of high school to enroll at Southern Nevada, leading national juco players with 31 homers as a 17-year-old in a wood-bat conference before signing a big league contract worth $9.9 million, a record for a position player. He got to the Majors at age 19 and won a Rookie of the Year award and an MVP and made six All-Star teams in seven years with Washington before departing as a free agent.

2. Pirates: Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast
Actual pick: Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands (Texas) HS. Sale: first round, No. 13, White Sox.

Sale should have been the consensus No. 4 prospect after dominating the Cape Cod League the previous summer and college competition that spring, but his low arm slot and skinny frame led many clubs to question whether he'd hold up in the rotation. He wanted a big league contract, a standard demand for top college pitchers when those were allowed, and instead tumbled to No. 13 for the White Sox, who informed him that they wouldn't sign him for a penny over MLB's slot recommendation ($1,656,000) -- but would give him every opportunity to pitch his way to Chicago that summer. He did so seven weeks after turning pro and spent 2010 and 2011 in Chicago's bullpen before making seven straight All-Star Games as a starter. Taillon drew comparisons to the gold standard of high school right-handers, Josh Beckett, and the consensus was that his fastball and curveball were the best available. He matched the record for highest-draft prep righty ever and signed for $6.5 million, then the second-highest bonus in Draft history.

3. Orioles: Jacob deGrom, RHP, Stetson
Actual pick: Manny Machado, SS, Brito Miami Private HS (Miami). deGrom: ninth round, Mets.

DeGrom began his college career as a Stetson shortstop and still was a semiregular in the lineup as a junior, when he opened the season as the Hatters' closer before moving into the rotation. He got some exposure by pitching against Sale twice that spring, losing both outings but taking Sale deep for his lone college homer in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament. His athleticism stood out more than his performance (4.48 ERA, 56 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings), prompting the Mets to draft him in the ninth round and sign him for $95,000, only to see him require Tommy John surgery after four pro starts. Nearly 26 when he reached New York in May 2014, he has made up for lost time by winning a Rookie of the Year award, two Cy Youngs and three All-Star selections. As a power-hitting shortstop from south Florida, Machado drew inevitable comparisons to Alex Rodriguez before signing for $5.25 million. Not only did he debut in the Majors shortly after turning 20, he also changed positions from shortstop to third base on the fly and made it look easy.

4. Royals: Manny Machado, SS, Brito Miami Private HS (Miami)
Actual pick: Christian Colon, SS, Cal State Fullerton. Machado: first round, No. 3, Orioles.

The Royals had serious interest in Machado before switching to Colon, who prompted some Dustin Pedroia comparisons because he was a small shortstop with a big swing and tremendous hand-eye coordination. Signed for $2.75 million, he never produced enough to secure a starting job and has just 355 big league at-bats in parts of five seasons. He will be remembered fondly in Kansas City, however, because he delivered the game-winning hit to clinch the 2015 World Series.

5. Indians: Bryce Harper, OF, JC of Southern Nevada
Actual pick: Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Mississippi. Harper: first round, No. 1, Nationals.

Pomeranz set the career strikeout record at Mississippi and won 2010 Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year honors before signing for $2.65 million. Dealt to the Rockies in a package for Ubaldo Jimenez a year later, he never became the rotation mainstay many envisioned, but he made the 2016 All-Star Game and has been part of postseason clubs in each of the last four seasons.

6. Diamondbacks: Andrelton Simmons, SS, Western Oklahoma State JC
Actual pick: Barret Loux, RHP, Texas A&M. Simmons: second round, Braves.

Simmons turned down some small bonus offers in Curacao and wound up at Western Oklahoma State as a 20-year-old freshman, earning raves as the best defensive player in the Draft and also attracting pitching interest by flashing a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider on the mound. He preferred playing every day and has lived up to his scouting reports by winning four Gold Gloves. The Diamondbacks chose Loux in part because he agreed to a below-slot $2 million bonus, then declined to sign him when he failed their post-Draft physical. Scouting director Tom Allison reportedly wanted to draft Sale, only to be overruled by GM Josh Byrnes. Declared a free agent by MLB, Loux signed with the Rangers for $312,000 that November and topped out in Triple-A.

7. Mets: J.T. Realmuto, SS, Albert HS (Midwest City, Okla.)
Actual pick: Matt Harvey, RHP, North Carolina. Realmuto: third round, Marlins.

More of a shortstop in high school, Realmuto set national high school records with 88 hits and 119 RBIs in 42 games as a senior and also quarterbacked Albert High to the Oklahoma state 5-A football title. Signed for an over-slot $600,000 bonus, he had the athleticism to make an easy transition behind the plate and is now baseball's best catcher. One of the best high school arms in the 2007 Draft, Harvey slid to the third round because of signability and endured two inconsistent seasons at North Carolina before excelling as a junior. Signed for $2,525,000, he was starring in New York two years later but couldn't stay healthy after helping the Mets reach the 2015 World Series.

8. Astros: Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Parkland (Ill.) CC
Actual pick: Delino DeShields, 2B, Woodward Academy (College Park, Ga.). Kiermaier: 31st round, Rays.

The lowest actual pick in our redraft, Kiermaier was MVP of the 2009 Division II Junior College World Series after leading Parkland to a national championship. Scouts liked his speed and center-field defense but considered him a tough sign in 2010 because he committed to Purdue, though he signed quickly in the 31st round for $75,000 and has proven himself as a decent hitter while winning three Gold Gloves. DeShields' electric bat speed and foot speed gave him late helium that shot him up to No. 8 and earned him a then-Astros-record $2,125,000 bonus, but he has been a lackluster hitter in the Majors.

9. Padres: Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Legacy HS (Mansfield, Texas)
Actual pick: Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley (Fla.) HS. Syndergaard: supplemental first round, Blue Jays.

Syndergaard had as much helium as any high school pitcher in the month before the Draft, going on a run in the Texas 4-A playoffs that vaulted him into the supplemental round, albeit with a below-slot $600,000 bonus. He has dominated when healthy for the Mets, who stole him in the R.A. Dickey trade, though he's currently sidelined by Tommy John surgery. Whitson didn't sign with the Padres after a dispute on what financial parameters had been agreed to before the Draft, went to the Red Sox in 2014's 11th round after four college seasons at Florida and pitched just seven innings in the Minors.

10. Athletics: Whit Merrifield, OF, South Carolina
Actual pick: Michael Choice, OF, Texas-Arlington. Merrifield: ninth round, Royals.

Merrifield provided the 11th-inning walk-off single that won the 2010 College World Series for the Gamecocks, then signed for $100,000 as a ninth-rounder. Never regarded as much of a prospect, he didn't make his big league debut until age 27 but led the American League in steals in his first two full seasons and in hits in 2019, when he earned his first All-Star recognition. Choice combined power (scouts considered him the best slugger in the four-year college class) and patience as an amateur but logged just a .573 OPS in 96 games in the Majors.

11. Blue Jays: Adam Eaton, OF, Miami (Ohio)
Actual pick: Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech. Eaton: 19th round, Diamondbacks.

Eaton's 5-foot-9 frame didn't impress scouts and his plus-plus speed was masked by the big cuts he took while hitting third in Miami's lineup, so he lasted 571 picks and signed for just $35,000. He hit .385 to win the Rookie-level Pioneer League batting title in his pro debut, reached Arizona in 2012 and became a solid regular who won a World Series ring with the Nationals last October. Though McGuire had one of the highest floors among 2010's college starters, he has pitched just 51 2/3 big league innings.

12. Reds: Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami
Actual pick: Grandal.

The Reds are the lone team that would make exactly the same choice a decade later. One of three 2010 draftees to receive a big league contract, Grandal inked a $3.2 million deal with a $2 million bonus as an offensive-minded catcher whose receiving was more impressive than his throwing. Those scouting reports have proven accurate, as he's a two-time All-Star who has homered a total of 117 times while going to the playoffs for five straight years.

13. White Sox: James Paxton, LHP, Grand Prairie (American Association)
Actual pick: Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast. Paxton: fourth round, Mariners.

Note that the White Sox are the first club to make a better choice in reality than they would get in retrospect. After the Blue Jays failed to sign Paxton as the 37th overall pick in 2009, team president Paul Beeston told a Toronto newspaper that he had negotiated directly with Paxton's adviser, Scott Boras, which would be a NCAA rules violation. Kentucky wouldn't let Paxton return to its team until he submitted to an interview with the NCAA, and he opted to pitch in the independent American Association. His stuff wasn't as sharp as it had been the year before, but he still landed a $942,500 bonus (late first-round money) in the fourth round. Injuries dogged him early in his big league career, but he has been one of the AL's best starters the past three years and authored a no-hitter in 2018.

14. Brewers: Nicholas Castellanos, 3B, Archbishop McCarthy HS (Southwest Ranches, Fla.)
Actual pick: Dylan Covey, RHP, Maranatha HS (Pasadena, Calif.). Castellanos: supplemental first round, Tigers.

Castellanos drew mid-first-round interest, including from the Brewers at No. 14, but signability concerns dropped him to No. 44 and the Tigers, who had him near the top of their Draft board and gladly paid him a supplemental first-round record $3.45 million. He reached Detroit at age 21 three years later and is coming off his two best seasons, including leading the Majors with 58 doubles a year ago. Covey decided not to sign after a post-Draft physical revealed he had Type 1 diabetes, went to the A's in the fourth round of the 2013 Draft after three college seasons at San Diego and owns a 6.54 ERA in parts of three years in the big leagues.

15. Rangers: Eddie Rosario, OF, Landron HS (Guayama, P.R.)
(compensation pick for failure to sign 2019 first-rounder Matt Purke)

Actual pick: Jake Skole, OF, Blessed Trinity HS (Roswell, Ga.). Rosario: fourth round, Twins.

Puerto Rico's best hitting prospect in 2010, Rosario signed for $200,000 and has emerged as a solid regular in left field after the Twins tried to develop him as a second baseman in the Minors. This was an unprotected pick for the Rangers and they had to emphasize signability, leading them to the athletic but raw Skole. He never got past Double-A in seven pro seasons before deciding to play college football at Georgia.

16. Cubs: Joc Pederson, OF, Palo Alto (Calif.) HS
Actual pick: Hayden Simpson, LHP, Arkansas. Pederson: 11th round, Dodgers.

Pederson flashed five-tool potential but his strong commitment to Southern California (where he had an opportunity to walk on as a wide receiver) dropped him to the 11th round, where he signed for $600,000, the equivalent of second-round money. He made the All-Star Game as a rookie and has slammed 123 homers in five full big league seasons, going to the postseason each year. Simpson, who starred at NCAA Division II Southern Arkansas, may have been the biggest surprise first-rounder of the last decade and logged a 6.42 ERA in the Minors while topping out in high Class A.

17. Rays: Corey Dickerson, OF, Meridian (Miss.) CC
Actual pick: Josh Sale, OF, Bishop Blanchet HS (Seattle). Dickerson: eighth round, Rockies.

Unable to sign Dickerson as a 29th-rounder in 2009, the Rockies landed him for $125,000 as an eighth-rounder a year later, buying into the power and athleticism that eventually would make him an All-Star and Gold Glover. Sale (no relation to Chris) had lightning bat speed but ran into trouble off the field, testing positive for amphetamines. He hit .238 in three pro seasons, none above Class A Advanced.

18. Angels: Kole Calhoun, OF, Arizona State
(pick from Mariners as compensation for free agent Chone Figgins)

Actual pick: Kaleb Cowart, 3B/RHP, Cook HS (Adel, Ga.). Calhoun: eighth round, Angels.

Most clubs preferred Cowart on the mound, but the Gatorade national high school player of the year wanted to play every day and the Angels acquiesced after signing him for $2.3 million, the eighth-highest bonus in the first round. He never hit much in the Minors and has batted just .176 in 171 games in the Majors, prompting Los Angeles to try him as a two-way player last year. By contrast, Calhoun overachieved as a $36,000 college senior sign, winning a Gold Glove in 2015 and bashing a career-high 33 homers in 2019 -- easily outperforming each of the Angels' three first-round and two supplemental first-round selections.

19. Astros: Matt Harvey, RHP, North Carolina
(pick from Tigers as compensation for free agent Jose Valverde)

Actual pick: Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Minooka (Ill.) Community HS. Harvey: first round, No. 7, Mets.

Based on peak value, Harvey could rank significantly higher on this list. Signed for $1,305,000, Foltynewicz had one of the best power arms in the high school crop and has parlayed it into success with the Braves, including a 2018 All-Star Game selection, after getting traded for the No. 30 player on this list.

20. Red Sox: Mark Canha, OF, California
(pick from Braves as compensation for free agent Billy Wagner)

Actual pick: Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, Ball State. Canha: seventh round, Marlins.

A bat-first prospect, Canha got third-round money ($300,000) in the seventh round and came into his own last year with 26 homers for the Athletics, who grabbed him in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft. A two-way player at Ball State, Vitek was touted as a more physical A.J. Pollock but stalled out in Double-A.

21. Twins: Robbie Ray, LHP, Brentwood (Tenn.) HS
Actual pick: Alex Wimmers, RHP, Ohio State. Ray: 12th round, Nationals.

Ray threw in the mid-90s on the showcase circuit in 2009 before his stuff regressed as a high school senior, yet he landed a $799,000 bonus (second-round money) after dropping to the 12th round. He has thrived with the Diamondbacks after a pair of trades, notching three 200-strikeout seasons in the last four years. One of the most polished pitchers available, Wimmers suddenly lost his ability to throw strikes in 2011 and was never as sharp afterward, totaling just 24 2/3 innings in the Majors.

22. Rangers: Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Mississippi
Actual pick: Kellin Deglan, C, Mountain SS (Langley, B.C.). Pomeranz: first round, No. 5, Indians.

Signed to the second-lowest bonus ($1 million) in the first round, Deglan finally reached Triple-A last year and is a career .228 hitter in the Minors.

23. Marlins: Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands (Texas) HS
Actual pick: Yelich. Taillon: first round, No. 2, Pirates.

The Marlins grabbed the best player in the Draft (Yelich) with the 23rd overall selection, the seventh-best (Realmuto) in the third round and another retroactive first-rounder (Canha) in the seventh. Scouting director Stan Meek and his staff also found five more big leaguers in Rob Rasmussen (second round), Austin Brice (ninth), Grant Dayton (11th) and Zach Neal (17th) and Brandon Cunniff (27th); and identified four more who didn't sign in Andrew Toles (fourth), Blake Treinen (23rd), Seth Maness (41st) and Matt Tracy (43rd).

24. Giants: Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Minooka (Ill.) Community HS
Actual pick: Gary Brown, OF, Cal State Fullerton. Foltynewicz: first round, No. 19, Astros.

The fastest player in the Draft, Brown looked like a future star when he batted .336 with 61 extra-base hits and 53 steals in high Class A during his first full pro season. He never approached those numbers again and garnered just seven at-bats in the big leagues.

25. Cardinals: Brandon Workman, RHP, Texas
Actual pick: Zack Cox, 3B, Arkansas. Workman: second round, Red Sox.

Workman drew first-round interest as Texas' No. 3 starter before dropping to the second round amid mild signability worries and getting an $800,000 bonus. After overcoming Tommy John surgery in 2015, he found his calling in Boston's bullpen and set expansion-era records last year for lowest opponent average (.123) and slugging percentage (.166) with a minimum of 60 innings. The consensus best pure hitter available, Cox scared off several clubs with his $6 million asking price as a sophomore-eligible. The Cardinals gave him a big league contract identical to Grandal's ($3.2 million guaranteed, including a $2 million bonus) but he never hit for power and peaked in Triple-A.

26. Rockies: Delino DeShields, 2B, Woodward Academy (College Park, Ga.)
Actual pick: Kyle Parker, OF, Clemson. DeShields: first round, No. 8, Astros.

The first athlete in NCAA Division I history with 20 homers and 20 touchdown passes in the same school year, Parker produced throughout his Minor League career before recording a .513 OPS in 132 big-league at-bats. The Rockies drafted another quarterback you may have heard of in the fourth round: Russell Wilson.

27. Phillies: Alex Claudio, LHP, Flores HS (Junco, P.R.)
Actual pick: Jesse Biddle, LHP, Germantown Friends HS (Philadelphia). Claudio: 27th round, Rangers.

Though Claudio was a rail-thin lefty with a mid-80s fastball, the Rangers liked his projection enough to gamble $15,000 on him. He never added much velocity but his nasty sinker has made him an effective reliever. Biddle developed into one of baseball's top southpaw pitching prospects by 2013 but plateaued afterward, with his only big league success coming in the Braves' 2018 bullpen.

28. Dodgers: Jedd Gyorko, 2B, West Virginia
Actual pick: Zach Lee, RHP, McKinney (Texas) HS. Gyorko: second round, Padres.

A bat-over-power guy without an obvious position, Gyorko signed for $614,700 in the second round and spent six seasons as a reasonably productive regular before his offensive game collapsed last year. A prime quarterback recruit ticketed for Louisiana State, Lee signed for a $5.25 million bonus spread over five years and heavily backloaded by the cash-poor Dodgers. Though he has made just four appearances in the Majors, Los Angeles got value out of him by dealing him to the Mariners for Chris Taylor in 2016.

29. Angels: Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Barstow (Calif.) HS
(pick from Red Sox as compensation for free agent John Lackey)

Actual pick: Cam Bedrosian, RHP, East Coweta HS (Sharpsburg, Ga.). Sanchez: supplemental first round, Blue Jays.

After whiffing on McGuire at No. 11, the Blue Jays found two quality if oft-injured starters for well below-slot prices in the supplemental first round in Syndergaard and Sanchez. The latter signed for $775,000 and won All-Star honors and the AL ERA title (3.00) in 2016, the lone season he had enough innings to qualify. The son of former Cy Young Award winner Steve, Bedrosian blew out his elbow five games into his pro career and required Tommy John surgery, recovering to become a useful reliever.

30. Angels: Evan Gattis, C, Texas-Permian Basin
Actual pick: Chevy Clarke, OF, Marietta (Ga.) HS. Gattis: 23rd round, Braves.

That Gattis homered 139 times in six big league seasons and earned a World Series ring with the 2017 Astros is pretty amazing considering how close his pro career came to never getting started. He originally committed to play at Texas A&M in 2005 but never wound up in College Station because he was terrified of playing big-time college baseball. He spent a month in drug rehab because his parents worried that he smoked marijuana too often, then hurt his left knee at Seminole State (Okla.) JC and dropped out to spend three years driving around the nation and living out of his pickup truck. He wound up at NCAA Division II Texas-Permian Basin in 2010, batting .403/.519/.712 to get the opportunity to sign for $1,000 in the 23rd round at age 23. The third of three Georgia high schoolers taken in the first round by the Angels, Clarke had loud tools but big questions about his bat that proved well-founded when he hit .217 in five pro seasons and never climbed past high Class A.

31. Rays: Drew Smyly, LHP, Arkansas
(compensation pick for failure to sign 2019 first-rounder LeVon Washington)

Actual pick: Justin O'Conner, C, Cowan HS (Muncie, Ind.). Smyly: second round, Tigers.

Smyly's advanced pitchability and extra leverage as a sophomore-eligible earned him a $1.1 million bonus in the second round, and he became a reliable starter and reliever for five years in the Majors until injuries began taking their toll in 2015. O'Conner had arguably the strongest arm and some of the best bat speed in the high school class, drawing top-10 consideration from the Mets and Athletics, but he hit just .232 in seven Minor League seasons before the Rays released him. He tried a comeback as a pitcher in the White Sox system last year.

32. Yankees: Adam Duvall, 2B, Louisville
Actual pick: Cito Culver, SS, Irondequoit HS (Rochester, N.Y.). Duvall: 11th round, Giants.

A $2,500 college senior sign, Duvall overcame a diabetes diagnosis in the Minors to produce a pair of 30-homer seasons and earn an All-Star Game appearance in the Majors. Considered more of a third-round talent by most teams, Culver had a slick glove but a questionable bat and hit .231 in nine Minor League seasons.