Ahead of the 2020 MLB Amateur Draft next week, theScore's MLB editors imagine a world where trades and free agency don't exist and clubs can only use players they drafted. We assembled teams from the last 20 drafts dating back to 2000 and ranked each from 30-1. Here's Part 1:
Note: Some players were moved to their secondary positions in order to build the best roster.
The Yankees certainly look much different when unable to flex their financial muscle. Judge is the biggest star drafted and developed in-house, but he's one of just four first-round picks to make this team. In fact, he's the club's only first-rounder to reach the majors since 2010. There have been significant issues in drafting and developing infielders, with the group amassing for negative WAR over 638 games. Of the 28 shortstops selected, not one ever cracked the majors. At least there are some elite arms to come out of the 'pen. The relievers have combined for 11 All-Star appearances and over 500 saves.
Kipnis developed into a two-time All-Star and Lindor is currently one of the game's best players, but outside of those two, the lineup consists of an underwhelming cast. Of the 17 position players that the club has drafted in the first round since 2000, only Lindor has played more than 300 games. Things are only slightly better on the pitching side. Archer leads the staff as Cleveland is unable to complete the 2006 deal that sent the right-hander, John Gaub, and Jeff Stevens to the Cubs for infielder Mark DeRosa. Bieber will most likely develop into the best pitcher of the group following a sensational 2019 campaign.
It's possible that things could have turned out differently had the Mariners not traded Jones and Tillman to the Orioles for Erik Bedard in 2008. The organization hasn't reached the postseason since 2001, and its draft record over the last two decades goes a long way in understanding why. Seager is the Mariners' underappreciated gem, as the third-round selection ranks sixth in home runs and seventh in WAR among third basemen since 2010. Both Fister and Paxton are solid starters but are more mid-rotation arms than true aces.
On the whole, Chicago hasn't drafted well for some time. If not for a couple of top-flight starting pitchers in Sale and Gonzalez, the White Sox would look a lot worse. And the club never got a chance to enjoy Gonzalez's success, as the lefty was traded, re-acquired, and traded again before he appeared in the majors. It wasn't looking very good from a position-player perspective, either, prior to Semien's MVP-caliber 2019 campaign with the A's, though Anderson's emergence as an everyday guy does provide a boost.
If anyone is wondering why the Padres failed to make the playoffs in the 2010s, this list of draft picks is a good place to start. With the exception of two-time Cy Young winner Kluber, who they gave up on far too early, and young star Turner, who was quickly dealt away in A.J. Preller's failed win-now experiment, San Diego has failed to identify many impact names. Even Headley, at one time a top prospect, only managed to produce one stellar season that boosted his overall value. The majority of their picks who've sustained themselves in the majors have done so as mere average contributors.
Dave Dombrowski ran the Tigers for much of the last 20 years, and the result was either trading promising prospects for big-league reinforcements or neglecting the draft altogether. It wasn't all bad - Verlander, Granderson, and Porcello are homegrown success stories, while Miller and Maybin were turned into Miguel Cabrera in a deal that no one will second-guess - but the cupboard is quite bare outside of the headliners. It's so scarce that Mize, the No. 1 pick in 2018, cracks this rotation despite not yet being on Detroit's 40-man roster.
Both Bichette and Biggio being on this list, despite having only just completed their rookie campaigns, serves as the most glaring evidence that Toronto hasn't had the best luck at the draft over the last two decades. Hill had some nice years with the Blue Jays, making his lone All-Star appearance in 2009 when he also finished 12th in AL MVP voting. Syndergaard has shown flashes of brilliance with the Mets since the trade that brought R.A. Dickey north of the border, but injuries have prevented him from truly ascending to the top tier of major-league pitchers. At one point, Syndergaard, Stroman, Sanchez, DeSclafani, and Justin Nicolino looked like the rotation of the future, but none remain on the roster.
The Orioles' inability to develop pitchers is about as well-known as any draft narrative around the league. The best pitcher the club developed by far, Jake Arrieta, didn't flourish until the club traded him away, as he'd go on to win the 2015 NL Cy Young award and lead the Chicago Cubs to a title the following year. And that's saying nothing of Hader or Davies. Hitters, meanwhile, have gone on to have some decent careers in Baltimore. Machado developed into a legitimate superstar after being taken third overall in 2010. A scout once said, "Sliced bread is actually the greatest thing since Matt Wieters." While the catcher has carved out a decent career, he couldn't always live up to the hype. The club will surely look for Adley Rutschman to match or exceed Wieters' production.
The Twins struck gold when they selected hometown catcher Mauer first overall in 2001. The 2009 AL MVP is destined for Cooperstown and is the clear highlight in a mixed bag of Twins draft picks from the last 20 years. Minnesota hasn't won a playoff series since 2002, and much of that has to do with the lack of star power to emerge from the draft. Dozier was a bright spot, but he was traded before the current competitive iteration really took shape. Other than Garver, Rosario, and Berrios, most of the current roster was built through trades, free agency, or the international market. If Byron Buxton (second overall pick in 2012) can live up to his potential, this ranking could change substantially.
The Pirates have unearthed their fair share of gems in the draft, even if several didn't find stardom until after they left Pittsburgh. While the club can boast about having drafted an MVP (McCutchen), 50-homer man (Bautista), and strikeout machine (Cole), among other notable names, there are too many errors overall that make it clear to see why the Bucs have spent many years in the league's basement. Alvarez was their best find at third base, but the 2008 second overall pick is now considered a bust. It doesn't help that they passed on Buster Posey to take Alvarez, leaving Stallings as their best homegrown catcher by default. On the pitching side, Cole is the only starter who's made a sustained impact in the majors, although Taillon and Glasnow have both shown that kind of potential when healthy and still have time to grow. Too many of their pitchers have turned into career middle relievers.