With the MLB Draft starting tonight, Athlon takes a look at the best players taken in the first round since 2000.
Though the MLB Draft is hardly talked about, it provides a strong glimpse into the future. With the first round of the MLB Draft coming up tonight, here is a look at 10 of the best players drafted in the first round since 2000 (listed in chronological order of year they were drafted):
Adrian Gonzalez (Marlins: 2000, No. 1)
Usually a player as good as Gonzalez would at least spend a few years with the team that drafted him. However, the Marlins traded him early to the Rangers, who sent him to San Diego, where he began cementing his name as an elite player. His years there, including three All-Star appearances, led to his massive contract with the Red Sox, where he had his best year in 2011. Since then, he has moved on to the Dodgers, where he continues to impress at 33 years old, hitting .330 to date with 10 home runs and 39 RBIs.
Adam Wainwright (Braves: 2000, No. 29)
When Clayton Kershaw plays in the same league as you, it can be hard to garner attention at times. However, when Wainwright tore his Achilles earlier this season, there was a sign of a clear, detrimental loss. In his 10-year career, Wainwright's .644 winning percentage and sub-3.00 ERA easily ranks him around the top of the MLB. He’s reached at least 19 wins in four seasons, won two Gold Glove awards, and finished at least third in the Cy Young voting four times. He has been extremely consistent his whole career, always finishing over .500 in the win column.
Joe Mauer (Twins: 2001, No. 1)
While Mauer has flown under the radar the past couple years, many people forget how dominant he was, especially while being a catcher. There’s a reason why the Twins made him the highest paid catcher ever in 2010, although many have labeled it as a terrible deal as of recent. However, a .317 career batting average is elite for a catcher, and it’s just one of the reasons why he’s a six-time All-Star. He won three straight Gold Gloves from 2008-10 and took home the MVP award in '09. A catcher who can hit and field that well is rare, and although he moved to first base in 2014, his career production is extremely impressive.
Justin Verlander (Tigers: 2004, No. 2)
Spending his entire career in Detroit, Verlander’s 152 wins to 89 losses, highlighted by six 17-plus win seasons, including one in his rookie year, show just how valuable he has been. In his 2011 Cy Young season, he won a staggering 24 games, the most since Randy Johnson in 2002. That year he also won the AL Triple Crown, leading the league in wins, strikeouts and ERA. Verlander has been one of the most prominent pitchers over the past decade, and he looks to add to his success this season when he comes back from an injury.
Andrew McCutchen (Pirates: 2005, No. 11)
McCutchen has been an all-around excellent player, at the plate, in the field, and around the bases, which he has been awarded for with four straight All-Star selections. In his past three years, he hit comfortably above .300, with an on-base percentage over .400. The 2013 NL MVP, he's finished third in the voting on two other occasions. A slow start to this season hampered him early on, but he has been hot since the second week of May and should finish with stats close to his past few years.
Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers: 2006, No. 7)
He’s only 27, and there’s hardly any baseball expert or fan who wouldn’t call him the best pitcher in MLB, let alone the best player. With three Cy Young awards and an MVP award, Kershaw has dominated, posting a career 2.53 ERA and two 21-win seasons. This season started off rough per his standards, but he’s been flashing his Cy Young stuff in the past three games with 28 strikeouts in 22 innings, allowing just two runs.
David Price (Rays: 2007, No. 1)
Whether an omen or not, the Tampa Bay Rays recorded their first season in franchise history finishing over .500 the same year Price debuted. He didn’t play much that year, but it seemed like a sign of things to come. As the ace on a team in a loaded division, he has been a standout in the league for several years. His 20-win 2012 season earned him Cy Young honors, after coming in second place just two years earlier. Traded to Detroit last summer, a career .632 winning percentage and 3.17 ERA has helped Price win 91 career games, highlighted by his notorious ability to strikeout batters.
Buster Posey (Giants: 2008, No. 5)
Posey has been a winner his entire career. In his first full season in 2010, he not only was NL Rookie of the Year, but also a World Series champion. Since then, he’s gone one to be a vital part of two more World Series winners. In one of those years, 2012, he led the league in batting average and hit a career-high 24 home runs on his way to MVP honors. Like Mauer, excelling so much at catcher only adds further value to what Posey has already accomplished.
Mike Trout (Angels: 2009, No. 25)
Trout actually came about to be an Angel by means of another great first-rounder, Mark Teixiera, as a compensation pick for him signing with the Yankees in free agency. Trout is undoubtedly both the present and the future of the MLB, as he will continue to serve as the face of the sport for at least the next decade. He already has an MVP under his belt and became the fastest to 100 home runs and stolen bases. With so much already accomplished in only a few years, many more records appear to be vulnerable. In addition, his speed and vision in the field have made him a great defender, highlighted by several robbed home runs.
Bryce Harper (Nationals: 2010, No. 1)
Hyped as one of the best prospects ever, Harper played well, especially for a young player in his first few seasons. This year, he has exploded, arguably being the top player in the NL. He leads the league in WAR (4.2), home runs (19), is third in RBIs (46), and is batting well over .300. Fans now are seeing Harper comfortably get into his zone, proving why he was a historic prospect. At only 22 years old, he and Trout will surely duke it out for top honors for many years to come.
Other notable first-round picks:
Chase Utley (2000), Mark Teixeira (2001), Max Scherzer (2006), Sonny Gray (2011)