Should the D-backs select Rodgers No. 1?
A look back at past 10 Drafts shows best available talent ought to be picked
Lake Mary (Fla.) shortstop Brendan Rodgers began the year as the consensus No. 1 prospect for the 2015 First-Year Player Draft, and he has held serve all spring. He ranked No. 1 on MLBPipeline.com's Top Draft Prospects list in December, and again in April. And Rodgers will do so again when we revamp and expand it in the next couple of weeks.
How often has the preseason top prospect maintained that status all the way up to the Draft? How often did he become the No. 1 overall pick? Industry sources don't believe the D-backs will select Rodgers with the first choice on June 8, but let's look at the previous 10 Drafts to see if history indicates that they should:
2014 preseason No. 1 prospect: Carlos Rodon
Final No. 1 prospect: Brady Aiken
Draft No. 1 pick: Aiken (Astros)
Touted as the best college left-hander since David Price, Rodon looked like he'd be the slam-dunk top pick, but he threw an awful lot of sliders during a good-not-great spring. Aiken's stuff kicked up a notch and moved him ahead of Rodon. However, after Aiken failed a post-Draft physical, he became just the third No. 1 overall choice not to sign.
2013 preseason No. 1 prospect: Mark Appel
Final No. 1 prospect: Appel/Jonathan Gray/Kris Bryant (no consensus)
Draft No. 1 pick: Appel (Astros)
There wasn't an obvious standout prospect on the eve of the 2013 Draft. Appel got better as a senior after turning down the Pirates as the eighth overall selection the year before, but Gray emerged with more spectacular stuff, and Bryant was the best college power hitter in years. Bryant would be the clear choice today.
2012 preseason No. 1 prospect: Mark Appel
Final No. 1 prospect: Byron Buxton
Draft No. 1 pick: Carlos Correa (Astros)
Appel didn't do anything wrong, but Buxton blossomed into a potential five-tool superstar that spring. Houston would have taken Appel at No. 1 in 2012 rather than '13 if it could have worked out the parameters of a deal. The Astros opted for Correa over Buxton, and now they're the top two prospects in the Minor Leagues.
2011 preseason No. 1 prospect: Anthony Rendon
Final No. 1 prospect: Rendon/Gerrit Cole /Dylan Bundy (no consensus)
Draft No. 1 pick: Cole (Pirates)
What likely will stand up as the most talent-rich Draft of the decade featured at least five No. 1-overall caliber talents. Some scouts even thought Cole was only the second-best pitcher on UCLA's staff, behind Trevor Bauer. After a shoulder injury limited Rendon to DHing for much of the spring, he dropped all the way to the Nationals at No. 6, which now looks like a steal.
2010 preseason No. 1 prospect: Bryce Harper
Final No. 1 prospect: Harper
Draft No. 1 pick: Harper (Nationals)
Harper would have been a high school junior in 2010 and ineligible for the Draft for another year, so he enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada and dominated junior college competition as a 17-year-old. His jaw-dropping power earned him a $9.9 million Major League contract -- the largest guaranteed contact for a position player in Draft history.
2009 preseason No. 1 prospect: Stephen Strasburg
Final No. 1 prospect: Strasburg
Draft No. 1 pick: Strasburg (Nationals)
There never was any question about Washington taking anyone other than the best Draft prospect ever. The only concern might have been his signability, and Strasburg didn't come cheap, setting a record for the largest Draft guarantee in history with a $15,107,104 big league deal.
2008 preseason No. 1 prospect: Pedro Alvarez
Final No. 1 prospect: Alvarez
Draft No. 1 pick: Tim Beckham (Rays)
Like Rendon, Alvarez had injury issues (broken hamate bone) and wasn't as dominant as a junior as he had been in his first two college seasons. Tampa Bay preferred a potential five-tool shortstop in Tim Beckham, whose athleticism seemed to take a downturn as soon as he signed. The Rays would have been better off with their second choice: Buster Posey. It may seem strange now, but Posey wasn't the 2008 Draft's best prospect because a lot of teams wondered if he'd hit for much power.
2007 preseason No. 1 prospect: David Price
Final No. 1 prospect: Price
Draft No. 1 pick: Price (Rays)
Tampa Bay got this No. 1 overall choice right, and Price more than earned his $8,125,683 Major League contract when he saved Game 7 of the 2008 American League Championship Series just 14 months after he signed. He's done a lot more since.
2006 preseason No. 1 prospect: Andrew Miller
Final No. 1 prospect: Miller
Draft No. 1 pick: Luke Hochevar (Royals)
Former Kansas City GM Allard Baird was believed to have preferred Miller as the top choice, but he got fired six days before the Draft. The Hochevar pick stunned the industry after his deal with the Dodgers as a supplemental first-rounder the year before fell through. Meanwhile, Miller fell to the Tigers at No. 6, in part because he floated an eight-figure asking price. If Miller hadn't dropped, Detroit would have picked the Dodgers' pockets and taken Clayton Kershaw.
2005 preseason No. 1 prospect: Justin Upton
Final No. 1 prospect: Upton
Draft No. 1 pick: Upton (D-backs)
Scouts pegged Upton as the best prospect in the 2005 class when he starred as a 14-year-old at the 2002 Area Code Games. Upton never wavered as the top prospect and neither did Arizona -- though there were plenty of other attractive options in the best Draft crop in the past 25 years. Other first-rounders included Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Interestingly, none of the preseason top prospects clearly held that status in June in the past four Drafts after doing so in the six before that. Among the six who did, Price is the best player from his class and Harper looks like he will be.
Upton could earn his third All-Star berth this summer, and Strasburg led the National League in strikeouts last year. Alvarez swings and misses much more than expected, yet he topped the NL in homers in 2013. Miller took a while to develop, but he has become one of the game's best relievers.
Recent history suggests that it behooves the D-backs to select Rodgers. So does the fact that in the previous 10 Drafts, only three times did a team pass on a player who could stake a claim to being the best available talent -- and those three included the two worst choices in Hochevar and Beckham.