A decade later, we redraft the 2013 MLB Draft

MVP winners and All-Stars headline the top of a power-packed class

May 10th, 2023

Three players separated themselves from the rest in the 2013 Draft.

Stanford right-hander Mark Appel had been a first-rounder the year before but declined to sign with the Pirates. San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant outhomered 223 of the 296 NCAA Division I teams all by himself. Oklahoma righty Jon Gray drew Gerrit Cole comparisons after transferring from Eastern Oklahoma State JC.

It rarely works out where the very best prospects go at the very top of the Draft, but it did a decade ago. The Astros chose Appel with the No. 1 overall pick, followed by the Cubs grabbing Bryant and the Rockies taking Gray.

But if teams knew then what they know now, Houston would have opted for a player who lasted until the penultimate selection of the first round and Colorado would have picked one who went in the fourth round. Over the ensuing years, the 2013 Draft class didn't turn out nearly like clubs thought it would, as our annual 10-years-later redraft will demonstrate.

Using the benefit of hindsight while projecting how careers will continue to unfold, we've redone all 33 first-round selections. Just nine of them actually went that high in 2013, and only three of the actual top 12 picks made the cut a decade later.

The Blue Jays and Orioles topped all teams with three retro first-rounders each -- the best of whom was Baltimore's 14th-round steal of Mike Yastrzemski. But he wasn't close to the lowest real-life selection in our how-they-should-have-done-it first round, a distinction that belongs to Yankees' 36th-rounder Nestor Cortes. The cheapest sign in the group was Giants' 10th-rounder Tyler Rogers, who turned pro for $7,500.

For the purposes of our redraft, we only considered players who turned pro in 2013. The best draftee who didn't sign was Reds' 31st-rounder Andrew Benintendi, who went to Arkansas and became the No. 7 overall pick of the Red Sox two years later.

1. Astros: Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State
Actual pick: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford ($6.35 million bonus). Judge: first round, No. 32, Yankees ($1.8 million).

It may not seem hard to believe now that Judge holds the American League record for homers in a single season, but he went deep just 18 times in three college seasons and several clubs questioned how well his raw power would translate into game production. It took him four more years to become a big league regular, but he's the unquestionable jewel of this Draft. A four-time All-Star, he owns an AL MVP Award, two other top-five finishes and a pair of home run titles.

The Astros strongly considered Appel with their No. 1 pick in 2012, the first year with bonus-pool restrictions that featured the loss of at least one future first-round pick for any team that exceeded its allotment by more than 5 percent. But when they couldn't pin down bonus parameters, they pivoted to Carlos Correa and wound up getting Appel in 2013. The righty set a still-standing bonus record for a college senior but didn't fit in well in pro ball and never had much success. He did appear in six games with the Phillies in 2022, sparing him from becoming just the fourth No. 1 selection to conclude his career without reaching the Majors.

2. Cubs: Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego
Actual pick: Bryant ($6,708,400).

The consensus college player of the year after homering 31 times with extremely toned-down bats, Bryant broke records for the highest bonus in the two-year-old bonus-pool era and for a college position player. He topped the Minors with 43 homers in 2014, won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2015 and then became NL MVP and a World Series champion in 2016. His career has tapered off since the Cubs traded him in mid-2021, but he was a four-time All-Star in seven years in Chicago and everything the franchise could have hoped for.

3. Rockies: Cody Bellinger, 1B, Hamilton HS, Chandler, Ariz.
Actual pick: Jon Gray, RHP, Oklahoma ($4.8 million). Bellinger: fourth round, Dodgers ($700,000).

Legend has it that when the Dodgers selected Bellinger, who hit one homer as a high school senior, a member of their analytics department commented that the club had just ruined its whole Draft. He grew into more power in the Minors, set a then-NL rookie record with 39 homers in 2017 and won NL MVP honors two years later. His career took a severe downturn in 2021-22, but he has looked more like his old self this spring with the Cubs.

At the time, I considered Gray the best prospect in the 2013 Draft. Back when few pitchers reached triple digits, Gray could do so while expending little effort, and he complemented his heat with a wipeout slider. He never became the ace the Rockies envisioned, or even an All-Star, but he has had as much success to date as any pitcher in this class.

4. Twins: Jeff McNeil, SS, Long Beach State
Actual pick: Kohl Stewart, RHP, St. Pius X HS, Houston ($4,544,400). McNeil: 12th round, Mets ($50,000).

One of the best contact hitters in college baseball, McNeil was part of a long line of Long Beach State shortstops who would go on to become stars, but no one saw that at the time. He never homered in three years with the 49ers and came with defensive questions, so he lasted 356 picks. He consistently batted .300 in the Minors but never drew much hype and didn't become a big league regular until 2019. He has earned one NL batting title and two All-Star berths since.

The Twins wanted a power arm and locked in early on Stewart, a Texas A&M quarterback recruit who had comparable stuff to Appel and Gray but better athleticism. He missed three weeks in his debut summer after cutting his foot on a seashell, then had persistent elbow and shoulder problems throughout his career. He made just 21 appearances in the Majors.

5. Guardians: Tim Anderson, SS, East Central (Miss) CC
Actual pick: Clint Frazier, OF, Loganville (Ga.) HS ($3.5 million). Anderson: first round, No. 17, White Sox ($2,164,000).

Unpicked as a junior college freshman in 2012, Anderson tore up the Jayhawk League that summer, yet teams didn't take advantage of the opportunity to sign him as a nondrafted free agent. He led Division II JUCO players in hitting (.495) and on-base percentage (.568) as a sophomore, while wowing scouts with his athleticism and speed. He needed some time to develop as a raw prospect better known for his basketball prowess in high school, but he became a big league regular at age 23. He won the AL batting title in 2019 and made the All-Star Game in each of the last two seasons.

One of the bigger stories of the 2013 Draft was Loganville, Ga., having outfielders at two different high schools who rated as the two best prep position prospects. Frazier offered more power, if less athleticism, than Austin Meadows and went four choices ahead of him, but he has yet to gain much traction in the Majors. His biggest claim to fame was being part of the trade that sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland in mid-2016.

6. Marlins: J.P. Crawford, SS, Lakewood (Calif.) HS
Actual pick: Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina ($3,516,500). Crawford: first round, No. 16, Phillies ($2,299,300).

Scouts loved Crawford's smooth defense at shortstop and his familial connects as a cousin of Carl Crawford, but had some questions about his bat. He stalled out in Philadelphia, then became a Gold Glove defender and reliable hitter after joining the Mariners in a trade centered around Jean Segura in December 2018.

Moran had the best plate discipline in the 2013 Draft and was the Astros' Plan B if they had struck out with Appel for a second time. His lack of athleticism and defensive ability has undercut his value as a big leaguer, though he has homered 50 times in part of seven big league seasons and was a key part of Houston's trade to get Gerrit Cole from the Pirates in January 2018.

7. Red Sox: Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State
Actual pick: Trey Ball, LHP/OF, New Castle (Ind.) HS ($2.75 million). Renfroe: first round, No. 13, Padres ($2,678,000).

Renfroe has lived up to his scouting reports as having some of the best power and arm strength in his Draft class, not to mention some deceptive athleticism. He was the biggest star on a Mississippi State team that lost to UCLA in the 2013 College World Series and was the only school with multiple players in our retro first round (Adam Frazier, Kendall Graveman). Now on his fifth team in the last five years, he has averaged 29 homers in his five full seasons in the Majors.

The best two-way player available, Ball asserted himself more as a pitcher during his high school senior season. His stuff regressed in pro ball, however, and he topped out in Double-A before briefly trying to make it as an outfielder in 2019. He's the highest 2013 pick to fall short of the Majors and one of six first-rounders to do so.

8. Royals: Tyler O'Neill, OF, Garibaldi SS (Maple Ridge, B.C.)
Actual pick: Hunter Dozier, SS, Stephen F. Austin State ($2.2 million). O'Neill: third round, Mariners ($650,000).

O'Neill grew up in the same town as Larry Walker and reminded evaluators of another British Columbia native, Brett Lawrie. Traded to the Cardinals for fellow 2013 first-rounder Marco Gonzales in mid-2017, he slammed 34 homers in 2021 but hasn't been able to replicate that success since.

Dozier was one of the biggest surprises of the first round, part of a Royals strategy to save money on their top choice and spend it later on Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea, a potential top-five pick until a torn labrum in his hip sabotaged his stuff. Kansas City got Dozier for $937,800 under slot and landed Manaea at No. 34 for $3.55 million, the fifth-highest bonus in the Draft. Dozier has had just one good season at the plate in the big leagues while providing poor defense, but the Royals swapped Manaea for Ben Zobrist, who helped win the 2015 World Series -- so Kansas City fans have no complaints.

9. Pirates: Ryan McMahon, 3B, Mater Dei HS (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Actual pick: Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson HS, Loganville, Ga. ($3,029,600). McMahon: second round, Rockies ($1,327,600).

McMahon starred at quarterback in high school and became one of several prominent passers drafted by the Rockies over the years, joining a tradition that includes Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Kyle Parker, Seth Smith, Michael Vick and Russell Wilson. He has become a regular for the Rockies, standing out as much with his defense as his offense.

The Pirates received this choice as compensation for not signing Appel in 2012 and used it on Meadows, who offered an appealing combination of athleticism and plate discipline. They included him in a regrettable trade with the Rays for Chris Archer in mid-2018, and he totaled 60 homers and earned MVP votes in each of his two full seasons in Tampa Bay. He has barely played the last two years with the Tigers while dealing with physical and mental health issues.

10. Blue Jays: Mike Yastrzemski, OF, Vanderbilt
Actual pick: Phil Bickford, RHP, Oaks Christian HS, Westlake Village, Calif. (didn't sign). Yastrzemski: 14th round, Orioles ($25,000).

The grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, Mike was a four-year starter at Vanderbilt but lacked a plus tool and got buried in the Orioles' system. Given new life when he was traded to the Giants for right-handed pitching prospect Tyler Herb in March 2019, he quickly became an outfield mainstay in San Francisco.

Bickford shot up Draft boards when his velocity rose to the mid-90s during his high school senior season, but he became the lone 2013 first-rounder not to sign after the Blue Jays developed concerns about his health. Toronto got the 11th overall pick in 2014 as a consolation prize and chose Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost, who peaked in Double-A. Bickford became a first-rounder again two years later when the Giants took him at No. 18 out of the JC of Southern Nevada. They traded him to the Brewers for Will Smith in 2016 and Bickford found a big league home in the Dodgers' bullpen after they claimed him off waivers in 2021.

11. Mets: Nestor Cortes, LHP, Hialeah (Fla.) HS
Actual pick: Dominic Smith, 1B, JSerra HS, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. ($2.6 million). Cortes: 36th round, Yankees ($85,000).

12. Mariners: Tyler Mahle, RHP, Westminster (Calif.) HS
Actual pick: D.J. Peterson, 3B, New Mexico ($2,759,100). Mahle: seventh round, Reds ($250,000).

13. Padres: Adam Frazier, SS, Mississippi State
Actual pick: Renfroe ($2,678,000). Frazier: sixth round, Pirates ($240,600).

14. Pirates: Jon Gray, RHP, Oklahoma
Actual pick: Reese McGuire, C, Kentwood HS, Covington, Wash. ($2,369,800). Gray: first round, No. 3, Rockies ($4.8 million).

15. D-backs: Devin Williams, RHP, Hazelwood (Mo.) West HS
Actual pick: Braden Shipley, RHP, Nevada ($2.25 million). Williams: second round, Brewers ($1.35 million).

16. Phillies: Nick Pivetta, RHP, New Mexico JC
Actual pick: Crawford ($2,299,300). Pivetta: fourth round, Nationals ($364,300).

17. White Sox: Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State
Actual pick: Anderson ($2,164,000). Manaea: supplemental first round, No. 34, Royals ($3.55 million).

18. Dodgers: Danny Jansen, C, Appleton (Wis.) West HS
Actual pick: Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville ($2,109,900). Jansen: 16th round, Blue Jays ($100,000).

19. Cardinals: Isiah Kiner-Falefa, SS, Mid Pacific Institute (Honolulu)
Actual pick: Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga ($1.85 million). Kiner-Falefa: fourth round, Rangers ($202,000).

20. Tigers: Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga
Actual pick: Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Florida ($2,001,700). Gonzales: first round, No. 19, Cardinals ($1.85 million).

21. Rays: Trey Mancini, 1B, Notre Dame
Actual pick: Nick Ciuffo, C, Lexington (S.C.) HS ($1,972,200). Mancini: eighth round, Orioles ($151,900).

22. Orioles: Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson HS, Loganville, Ga.
Actual pick: Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bandys HS, Catawba, N.C. ($1,947,600). Meadows: first round, No. 9, Pirates ($3,029,600).

23. Rangers: Jonah Heim, C, Amherst Central HS (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Actual pick: Chi Chi González, RHP, Oral Roberts ($2,215,000). Heim: fourth round, Orioles ($389,700).

24. Athletics: Tyler Rogers, RHP, Austin Peay State
Actual pick: Billy McKinney, OF, Plano (Texas) West HS ($1.8 million). Rogers: 10th round, Giants ($7,500).

25. Giants: Brad Keller, RHP, Flowery Branch (Ga.) HS
Actual pick: Christian Arroyo, SS, Hernando HS, Brooksville, Fla. ($1,866,500). Keller: eighth round, D-backs ($125,000).

26. Yankees: Kendall Graveman, RHP, Mississippi State
Actual pick: Eric Jagielo, 3B, Notre Dame ($1,839,400). Graveman: eighth round, Blue Jays ($5,000).

27. Reds: Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas
Actual pick: Phil Ervin, OF, Samford ($1,812,400). Stanek: first round, No. 29, Rays ($1,755,800).

28. Cardinals: Matthew Boyd, LHP, Oregon State
Actual pick: Rob Kaminsky, LHP, Saint Joseph HS, Montvale, N.J. ($1,785,300). Boyd: sixth round, Blue Jays ($75,000).

29. Rays: Chad Green, RHP, Louisville
Actual pick: Stanek ($1,755,800). Green: 11th round, Tigers ($100,000).

30. Rangers: Mitch Garver, C, New Mexico
Actual pick: Travis Demeritte, SS, Winder-Barrow HS, Winder, Ga. ($1.9 million). Garver: ninth round, Twins ($40,000).

31. Braves: Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
Actual pick: Jason Hursh, RHP, Oklahoma State ($1,704,200). Lorenzen: supplemental first round, No. 38, Reds ($1.5 million).

32. Yankees: Trevor Williams, RHP, Arizona State
Actual pick: Judge ($1.8 million). Williams: second round, Marlins ($1,261,400).

33. Yankees: Corey Knebel, RHP, Texas
Actual pick: Ian Clarkin, LHP, Madison HS, San Diego ($1,650,100). Knebel: supplemental first round, No. 39, Tigers ($1,433,400).