On Sunday, Major League Baseball's annual amateur draft will begin, and future All-Stars and award winners will hear their names called. Maybe there's even a future Hall of Famer or two. MLB's draft is not about instant gratification -- even the very best prospects will disappear into the minors for a few years -- but you must draft well to be a successful organization. It is imperative.
The 2023 draft class will be evaluated instantly based on what we know right now. And, based on what we know right now, we can also go back a decade and evaluate the 2013 draft class. That draft has produced three MVP winners, though only two of the top 16 picks have gone to an All-Star Game. Only seven players taken in the first round developed into big league mainstays.
With the infallible benefit of hindsight, we're going to go back and "redraft" the 2013 first round. To be clear, this is not a straight ranking of the best 2013 draftees by WAR or something like that. That would be boring. We're redrafting players based on what they've done in their career to date as well as what we expect them to do in the future, so it's a little more nuanced.
Here now is our 2013 first round redraft, beginning with one of the biggest stars in the game today.
1. Houston Astros: OF Aaron Judge, Fresno State
Actual pick: RHP Mark Appel, Stanford
Judge draft slot: No. 33 (Yankees)
Appel was the consensus No. 1 prospect in the 2013 draft after a) a decorated four-year career at Stanford, and b) turning down the Pirates as the No. 8 pick in 2012, rejecting a reported $3.8 million bonus. It worked out for Appel -- the Astros gave him a $6.35 million bonus in 2013 -- but not for Houston, as Appel stagnated in the minors and was later traded to the Phillies as part of the Ken Giles deal. , returned to baseball in 2021, and reached the big leagues with Philadelphia last year. He pitched well in six relief appearances. The Phillies released Appel on March 21 and he has not played this season.
As for Judge, he was viewed as a huge wild-card entering the 2013 draft, both literally and figuratively. The 6-foot-7 slugger was a very productive college player, though there is little precedent of a position player this size having long-term success (Frank Howard and that's pretty much it). Add in swing and miss concerns and Judge slipped all the way to New York and the No. 32 pick ().
A decade later Judge's career accomplishments include, among other things:
- A then-rookie record 52 home runs in 2017
- AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP runner-up in 2017.
- Five-time All-Star (voted in as a starter all five times).
- AL single-season record 62 home runs in 2022.
- AL MVP in 2022.
- The richest position player contract in history ($40 million per year).
Judge did not play his first full MLB season until 2017, his age 25 season, so he certainly didn't zoom up the minor league ladder. He's been worth the wait though, even with injuries costing him chunks of time in 2018, 2019, 2020, and now 2023. Judge's career 39.4 WAR leads the 2013 draft class by roughly 10 wins.
2. Chicago Cubs: 3B Kris Bryant, San Diego
Actual pick: Bryant
During his draft year at San Diego, Bryant slugged 31 home runs and won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur player in the country. He was the consensus top position player in the 2013 draft and it was no secret the Cubs coveted him at No. 2. They got their guy, and Bryant was named NL Rookie of the Year in 2015 and NL MVP in 2016. He was of course central to Chicago snapping its 108-year World Series drought in 2016. He fielded the final out, in fact.
Bryant's career has stalled a bit since then, though he hasn't been bad, and you could make an argument for taking him with the No. 1 pick in a 2013 redraft. He won an MVP before Judge even played a full season in the big leagues, after all. Do you prefer the more immediate impact or the greater long-term production? For the Cubs, Bryant's immediate impact was more valuable than Judge's long-term production. They don't win that 2016 World Series without Bryant manning the hot corner at an MVP level. The Cubbies should have zero -- zero -- regrets about this selection even if Judge ultimately became the better player.
3. Colorado Rockies: 1B Cody Bellinger, Hamilton HS (AZ)
Actual pick: RHP Jon Gray, Oklahoma
Bellinger draft slot: No. 124 (Dodgers)
The 2013 draft has produced three MVPs to date and, for a few years there, it looked like Bellinger would be the best player in the class. His 2019 was the best season by a 2013 draftee until Judge's 2022, and although Bellinger's game has cratered the last few years, he put up 18.2 WAR in his first four seasons, one of which was cut short by the pandemic. The Dodgers nabbed Bellinger in the fourth round in 2013, helped him refine his swing and get him into his power more consistently, and maximized his speed and athleticism by moving him to center field. He's a massive player development success story. As for Gray, there was a time in the weeks leading up to the 2013 draft that he looked like the best prospect in the class. He's had a fine big league career even if he hasn't developed into an ace as many expected.
4. Minnesota Twins: SS Jeff McNeil, Long Beach State
Actual pick: RHP Kohl Stewart, St. Pius X HS (TX)
McNeil draft slot: No. 356 (Mets)
One of the best contact hitters in the country, McNeil slashed .348/.398/.443 with only 11 strikeouts in 56 games his draft year with the Dirtbags, though questions about his power potential -- McNeil hit zero (literally zero) home runs in three years at Long Beach State -- and long-term position caused him to slip all the way to the Mets in the 12th round. He continually proved doubters wrong as he hit his way up the minors and he eventually became a regular with New York at age 26 in 2018. McNeil has a batting title and two All-Star Game selections to his credit. Stewart, meanwhile, dealt with arm injuries throughout his career and made 21 big league appearances scattered across 2018-21.
5. Cleveland Guardians: SS Tim Anderson, East Central CC (IL)
Actual pick: OF Clint Frazier, Loganville HS (GA)
Anderson draft slot: No. 17 (White Sox)
Any team could have signed Anderson as an undrafted free agent following his freshman year in 2012, but they all passed, and he played his way into the 2013 first round with a .495/.568/.879 line as a sophomore. The White Sox bet on Anderson's bat-to-ball skills and athleticism, and gave him a bonus just over $2 million as the No. 17 pick. He made his MLB debut in 2016 and became a foundational player on the South Side, one with two All-Star Game selections and a batting title. Frazier wowed everyone with his bat speed as an amateur, and while his MLB career has not yet amounted to much, Cleveland used him as a trade chip to land Andrew Miller at the 2016 deadline. It ultimately got a ton of value out of his draft pick.
6. Miami Marlins: SS J.P. Crawford, Lakewood HS (CA)
Actual pick: 3B Colin Moran, UNC
Crawford draft slot: No. 16 (Phillies)
I'm a bat-first kind of guy, so I have Anderson ahead of Crawford in my redraft, though you can make a case for Crawford ahead of Anderson because he's two years younger and should provide a lot of value with his glove the next few years. Either way, Crawford took a little longer to reach the big leagues than expected -- he did not get 400 plate appearances in an MLB season until 2021 -- and he has since settled in as a solid on-base guy with a standout glove at short. The Phillies selected him with the No. 16 pick in 2013 and sent him to the Mariners in the Jean Segura trade in December 2018, and I imagine both teams are happy with that deal (Crawford is Seattle's starting shortstop and Segura helped Philadelphia win the 2022 NL pennant). Moran was viewed as a safer college bat and a bit of a reach with the No. 6 pick in 2013. The Marlins sent him to the Astros in the Jarred Cosart deal at the 2014 deadline, then Houston flipped Moran to the Pirates in the Gerrit Cole deal in January 2018.
7. Boston Red Sox: RHP Jon Gray, Oklahoma
Actual pick: LHP Trey Ball, New Castle HS (IN)
Gray draft slot: No. 3 (Rockies)
You can't help but wonder what Gray, who had a 1.64 ERA with 147 strikeouts in 126 1/3 innings his draft year for the Sooners, would have become had he been drafted by a team other than the Rockies. Developing successful pitchers in Coors Field is a challenge and, all things considered, Gray has had a rock solid MLB career, hence his place in our redraft. There is definitely a "what could have been" element to him though. Ball is the highest 2013 draft pick to fail to reach the majors. He was a two-way player in high school and both his stuff and control took a step back in pro ball. Ball tried to make it work as an outfielder later in his career, but no such luck there. He's been out of baseball since 2019 and never played above Double-A.
8. Kansas City Royals: OF Hunter Renfroe, Mississippi State
Actual pick: 3B Hunter Dozier, Stephen F. Austin State
Renfroe draft slot: No. 13 (Padres)
Renfroe was almost like a mini-Judge back in 2013. He had huge right-handed power and was an excellent athlete with a rocket arm, though swing and miss concerns created doubt about whether his power would play in games. The Padres rolled the dice with the No. 13 pick and Renfroe is now eight years into a productive big league career, one with two 30-homer seasons and five years with at least 26 homers. Dozier was a surprise selection at No. 8, though the Royals took him as part of a strategy to save bonus pool money. They gave Dozier a $2.2 million bonus, about $1 million below slot, and gave the savings to Sean Manaea with the No. 34 pick. Kansas City traded Manaea to the Athletics for Ben Zobrist at the 2015 deadline. Zobrist went on to win World Series MVP that year, so although Dozier did not make his MLB debut until 2016, he had a hand in the team's 2015 championship.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates: 3B Ryan McMahon, Mater Dei HS (CA)
Actual pick: OF Austin Meadows, Grayson HS (GA)
McMahon draft slot: No. 42 (Rockies)
A touted quarterback in high school, it took McMahon a few years to really find his way in pro ball, though he's since developed into a 20-homer bat with fantastic defense at the hot corner. McMahon is only 28 and there's a chance his best years are still ahead of him, which is not often something you can say about a player a decade after he's been drafted. The Rockies selected McMahon with the third pick of the second round. Injuries and platoon injuries have hampered Meadows throughout his career, though he did make an All-Star Game and was involved in two notable trades (to the Rays for Chris Archer, then to the Tigers for Isaac Paredes). This is the pick Pittsburgh received as compensation for failing to sign Appel in 2012.
10. Toronto Blue Jays: OF Mike Yastrzemski, Vanderbilt
Actual pick: RHP Phil Bickford, Oaks Christian HS (CA)
Yastrzemski draft slot: No. 429 (Orioles)
Yastrzemski was drafted three times -- 36th round in 2009, 30th round in 2012, 14th round in 2013 -- despite never being a highly regarded prospect. He spent parts of five seasons in the Orioles' farm system, including three straight years bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A, before being traded to the Giants at the end of spring training in 2019. Since then Yastrzemski, who is of course the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, has served as a productive lefty platoon bat. That he didn't debut until age 28 and turns 33 in a few weeks cuts into his value a bit and keeps him from placing higher in our redraft. Bickford, meanwhile, did not sign with the Blue Jays as the No. 10 pick in 2013 because they had concerns about his health. Toronto received the No. 11 pick in 2014 as compensation and used it to select Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost, who never reached the big leagues and retired in 2019.
The next 17 picks
The Atlanta Braves (BJ Upton), Los Angeles Angels (Josh Hamilton), Milwaukee Brewers (Kyle Lohse), and Washington Nationals (Rafael Soriano) all surrendered their 2013 first round picks to sign qualified free agents. That, obviously, was back when teams still forfeited first rounders to sign top free agents. Nowadays all first rounders are protected. Between those four first rounders being given up and the Pirates receiving the No. 9 pick as compensation for failing to sign Appel in 2012, there were 27 picks in the 2013 first round. Here now are the final 17 picks in our 2013 redraft.
11. New York Mets (Redraft pick: SS Adam Frazier, Mississippi State): Renfroe's teammate with the Bulldogs, Frazier has an All-Star Game selection to his credit, and has spent the bulk of his career as a high-contact middle infielder with good defensive chops. Frazier was a sixth-round pick by the Pirates in 2013. The Mets used this selection on high school first baseman Dominic Smith, who showed promise with the bat earlier in his career but has since stalled out. Frazier draft slot: No. 179 (Pirates)
12. Seattle Mariners (Redraft pick: C Danny Jansen, Appleton HS (WI)): Because of injuries and Alejandro Kirk, we've yet to see Jansen get a full season as a starting catcher with the Blue Jays, but he's been very productive as 240-ish plate appearance guy. Jansen turned just 28 in April and could still carve out a role as someone's starter. As it stands, he was an incredible find by Toronto in the 16th round. The Mariners used this pick on New Mexico infielder D.J. Peterson, who never reached MLB and was lost on waivers in 2017. Jansen draft slot: No. 475 (Blue Jays)
13. San Diego Padres (Redraft pick: OF Tyler O'Neill, Garibaldi SS (BC)): O'Neill was more of an athlete than a baseball player at the time of the 2013 draft. He has since refined his natural gifts into his baseball skills, culminating with an All-Star caliber year in 2021. That season has been by far the best year of O'Neill's career, though he turned only 28 last month, and still has what should be many peak years remaining. He was selected by the Mariners in the third round in 2013. The Padres used this pick on Renfroe, who went earlier in our redraft. O'Neill draft slot: No. 85 (Mariners)
14. Pittsburgh Pirates (Redraft pick: LHP Marco Gonzales, Gonzaga): Do you prefer O'Neill's single All-Star caliber season or Gonzales' steady yet unspectacular career? The Cardinals selected Gonzales with the No. 19 pick in 2013 and then flipped him to Seattle for O'Neill in a one-for-one trade in June 2017. This one worked out for both sides, I'd say. The Pirates selected high school catcher Reese McGuire with this pick, then used him as a sweeter to dump Francisco Liriano's salary on the Blue Jays. Gonzales draft slot: No. 19 (Cardinals)
15. Arizona Diamondbacks (Redraft pick: RHP Tyler Mahle, Westminster HS (CA)): Mahle was a long-term player development project. He reached the big leagues in 2017 after being a seventh-round pick by the Reds in 2013, though it wasn't until 2020 that he had consistent success. Cincinnati sent Mahle to the Twins at last year's trade deadline in a deal that looks like a heist now (the Reds received Spencer Steer, among others). Arizona used this pick on Nevada righty Braden Shipley, who appeared in 26 MLB games for them but never had staying power at the highest level. Mahle draft slot: No. 225 (Reds)
16. Philadelphia Phillies (Redraft pick: RHP Devin Williams, Hazelwood HS (MO)): Injuries and inconsistency hampered Williams early in his pro career. He had Tommy John surgery in 2017 and moved into the bullpen full-time in 2019, and that was a career-changer. Williams has spent the last four years as one of the most dominant relievers in the game. The Brewers originally picked him with their second-round selection in 2013. The Phillies used this pick on Crawford, who went No. 6 in our redraft. Williams draft slot: No. 54 (Brewers)
17. Chicago White Sox (Redraft pick: LHP Sean Manaea, Indiana State): Manaea was in the mix for the No. 1 pick entering the 2013 college season, though he had nagging injuries all spring and slipped to the Royals and the No. 34 pick. Kansas City later traded him for Zobrist. The injury bug has followed Manaea throughout his career, though he put together several league average-ish seasons early on. The White Sox selected Anderson, No. 5 in our redraft, with this pick. Manaea draft slot: No. 34 (Royals)
18. Los Angeles Dodgers (Redraft pick: OF Austin Meadows, Grayson HS (GA): Another player in the middle of our redraft first round who has been dogged by injuries throughout his career. When on the field, Meadows has at times put up All-Star caliber production as a platoon lefty bat, and he only turned 28 in May. There's still time to add to the resume. The Pirates took Meadows with the No. 9 pick in 2013. The Dodgers used this pick on Jacksonville righty Chris Anderson, who never had much success in the minors and has been out of baseball since 2018. Meadows draft slot: No. 9 (Pirates)
19. St. Louis Cardinals (Redraft pick: 1B Trey Mancini, Notre Dame): From 2017-19, Mancini slugging 83 home runs and was an above-average hitter even relative to the high offensive standards at first base. He missed 2020 after being diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer and is the 2013 draft's feel-good story. The O's selected him in the eighth round this year. The Cardinals used this pick on Gonzales, who they later traded for O'Neill. Mancini draft slot: No. 249 (Orioles)
20. Detroit Tigers (Redraft pick: RHP Kendall Graveman, Mississippi State): Graveman is the third Mississippi State player to go in our 2013 redraft. The Blue Jays drafted him in the eighth round in 2013 and traded him to the A's in the Josh Donaldson deal in December 2014. Graveman had three years as a league average starter before carving out a second phase of his career as an effective reliever following Tommy John surgery in 2019. Detroit used his pick on Florida righty Jonathan Crawford, who they sent to the Reds along with Eugenio Suárez for Alfredo Simón in December 2014. Graveman draft slot: No. 235 (Blue Jays)
21. Tampa Bay Rays (Redraft pick: RHP Chad Green, Louisville): Prior to his 2022 Tommy John surgery, Green spent a half-decade as one of the most reliable relievers in baseball with the Yankees. The Tigers selected him in the 11th round in 2013 and later traded him to the Yankees for veteran lefty Justin Wilson in December 2015. Tampa used this pick on high school catcher Nick Ciuffo, who became a journeyman and has 21 games of big league experience. Green draft slot: No. 336 (Tigers)
22. Baltimore Orioles (Redraft pick: RHP Michael Lorenzen, Cal State Fullerton): As was often the case with pitchers who weren't a total zero at the plate, Lorenzen's hitting ability was overstated earlier in his career, but he has put together a fine career on the mound. That includes the last two years as a starter after a six-year spell as a reliever. The Reds drafted Lorenzen with the No. 38 pick in 2013. The O's took high school righty Hunter Harvey with this pick. Injuries have held him back, though he's found a home in the Nationals' bullpen the last two years. Lorenzen draft slot: No. 38 (Reds)
23. Texas Rangers (Redraft pick: LHP Matthew Boyd, Oregon State): To some extent, Boyd has been more potential than production throughout his career. He had a terrific first half in 2018 but has been unable to get back to that level, and has dealt with a few injuries along the way. The Blue Jays nabbed Boyd in the sixth round in 2013, then traded him to the Tigers in the David Price deal at the 2015 deadline. Texas selected journeyman righty Chi Chi González out of Oral Roberts with this pick in 2013. Boyd draft slot: No. 175 (Blue Jays)
24. Oakland Athletics (Redraft pick: C Jonah Heim, Amherst Central HS (NY): Catchers are often late bloomers and that certainly appears to be the case with Heim, who has been one of the best all-around catchers in baseball this year and was just selected to his first All-Star Game. The Rays drafted Heim in the fourth round in 2013. He was traded to the A's for Joey Wendle in December 2017 and then to the Rangers in the Elvis Andrus/Khris Davis trade in February 2021. Oakland took high school outfielder Billy McKinney with this pick, then later traded him to the Cubs in the massive Jeff Samardzija deal at the 2014 trade deadline. A year later, the Cubs sent him to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman trade. Heim draft slot: No. 129 (Orioles)
25. San Francisco Giants (Redraft pick: C Mitch Garver, New Mexico): Garver had a 31-homer season as a catcher in 2019 and he's been a comfortably above-average hitter for the position throughout his career, though injuries have limited him to mostly DH duty the last few years. Still, finding a 30-homer catcher in the ninth round like the Twins did in 2013 is a major draft day win. The Giants selected high school infielder Christian Arroyo with this pick. They later sent him to the Rays in the Evan Longoria trade. Garver draft slot: No. 260 (Twins)
26. New York Yankees (Redraft pick: RHP Nick Pivetta, New Mexico JC): Pivetta has turned in two (maybe three if you squint your eyes) seasons as a league average starter, and now it appears he's settling in as a high strikeout reliever. The Nationals took him in the fourth round in 2013, then traded him to the Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon at the 2015 deadline. Pivetta later made his way to the Red Sox. The Yankees took Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo with this pick, so yes, even the Yankees passed on Judge in the 2013 first round. New York used Jagielo as the headliner in the trade to acquire Aroldis Chapman from the Reds. Pivetta draft slot: No. 136 (Nationals)
27. Cincinnati Reds: (Redraft pick: LHP Nestor Cortes, Hialeah HS (FL): It took almost a decade for Cortes to establish himself at the MLB level. He threw more than 250 All-Star level innings from 2021-22 after being a Rule 5 Draft pick and being giving up on by three teams, including the Yankees, who drafted him in the 36th round in 2013. The Reds used this selection on Samford outfielder Phillip Ervin, who had a brief stint as a lefty mashing platoon outfielder with Cincinnati. Cortes draft slot: No. 1,094 (Yankees)