The 2022 MLB Draft begins on Sunday, and with it comes endless hope. Every player your team selects, you can imagine wearing your jersey and leading your team to the World Series. But sometimes it can be hard to see that far into the future. It’s not like the NBA, where you spot a guy and he’s in the starting lineup five months later. It takes time.
But ultimately there is a gain. At some point these guys are going to be on your team. So, to give everyone some hope, today we’re looking at the best player currently on each roster that each team has taken in the draft. At the time they were chosen, they were just a symbol of a hazy future. They are now the highest drafted player on their team.
Blue Jays: Alek Manoah (1st round, 2019)
The last pre-pandemic draft featured Manoah as the 11th overall pick. Three years later, he is an All-Star.
Orioles: Adley Rutschman (1st round, 2019)
It may have seemed like it took Rutschman forever to get to Baltimore, but it seemed to be. He’ll be in the Majors until you’re a lot grayer than you are now.
Spokes: Shane McClanahan (Round 1C, 2018)
A team not actually known for their first-round draft prowess certainly had a winner four years ago.
Red Sox: Tanner Houck (1st round, 2017)
The Red Sox have acquired plenty of outside talent and expanded further in the international market – Xander Bogaerts was signed in 2009 – but their best drafted is Houck, who leads the team in stoppages.
Yankees: Aaron Judge (1st round, 2013)
It’s been a while since I bet you realized Judge was drafted, right? Remember: he just turned 30.
Goalkeepers: Shane Bieber (4th round, 2016)
The four players drafted by Cleveland above Bieber? Will Benson, Nolan Jones, Logan Ice and Aaron Civale.
Royals: Bobby Witt Jr. (1st round, 2019)
Witt hasn’t established himself as an obvious superstar in Kansas City yet, but you can definitely feel him coming.
Tigers: Riley Greene (1st round, 2019)
That 2019 draft was awfully impressive, especially at the top, wasn’t it?
Twins: Byron Buxton (1st round, 2012)
He is now a teammate with the only man drafted above him that year, Carlos Correa.
White Sox: Tim Anderson (1st round, 2013)
When Anderson was drafted, the White Sox’s best hitter was probably…Adam Dunn?
Angels: Mike Trout (1st round, 2009)
In a way, 2009 is also the last time the Angels won a playoff game.
Astros: Kyle Tucker (1st round, 2015)
Tucker will always be underrated, but at least he finally made his first All-Star team.
A: Sean Murphy (3rd round, 2016)
It’s more about future draft picks for the A’s at this point, rather than the old ones.
Navigators: Logan Gilbert (1st round, 2018)
The Mariners only have four players on their roster that they drafted, which could be one reason they’ve been out of the playoffs for so long.
Rangers: Brett Martin (4th round, 2014)
Rangers were once a source of young talent, but that has dried up somewhat over the last half-decade.
Braves: Austin Riley (CB-A round, 2015)
The Braves have a ton of options here, from Kyle Wright to Michael Harris II to Ian Anderson and AJ Minter. A good sign.
Marlins: Brian Anderson (3rd round, 2014)
It only looks like Anderson has been on the team since his expansion year.
Mets: Jacob deGrom (9th round, 2010)
There are more current Mets rookies than you might think, from Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso to Dom Smith and David Peterson. It’s not a free agent team, as it might seem.
Nationals: Stephen Strasbourg (1st round, 2009)
He’s on the injured list right now, but he’s still a huge achievement.
Phillies: Aaron Nola (1st round, 2014)
Despite all the talk of the Phillies’ struggles over the past decade, Nola is an excellent first-round pick. There are also other worthy picks here, including Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm, and Darick Hall.
Brewers: Corbin Burnes (4th round, 2016)
It took a while, but it turned out to be one of the most impressive draft picks on this list.
Cardinals: Albert Pujols (13th round, 1999)
He made a little trip out west for about ten years. But the incredible story of the Cardinals getting a Hall of Famer from the inner circle in the 13th round remains true.
Cubs: Ian Happ (1st round, 2015)
He came to the Majors right after the Cubs won the World Series, but now he’s made an All-Star Game.
Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes (1st round, 2015)
Oneil Cruz has all the hype now, but Hayes is still the linchpin of everything this team does, going forward.
Reds: Joey Votto (2nd round, 2002)
If you’re wondering what Votto looked like when the Reds drafted him 20 years ago, well, he’ll surely put it on his Instagram soon.
D-backs: Alek Thomas (2nd round, 2018)
There have been a few bumps in the road, but there are plenty of reasons to believe Thomas is moving forward.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw (1st round, 2006)
The Dodgers drafted high enough to catch Kershaw because they lost 91 games in 2005. They haven’t lost that many in a season since.
Giants: Brandon Crawford (4th round, 2008)
He’s not having the best year of his career, but it’s truly incredible value.
Chaplains: MacKenzie Gore (1st iteration, 2017)
He took a little detour from top prospect to star rookie, but he got there this year.
Rockies: Charlie Blackmon (2nd round, 2008)
At 36, he’s having another above-average offensive year.