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2017 MLB Draft: The Waiting Game

The 2017 MLB Draft goes down tonight, but when will it matter for fantasy baseball?

Carlos Correa (#1 in 2012) & Alex Bregman (#2 in 2015) are prime examples of how baseball players take years to develop into stars.
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB Draft is unlike any other sports draft. By that I mean the players you see selected tonight probably won’t be showing up in the big leagues until next year at the earliest. Most scouts and experts don’t see many of the class of 2017 making a big league debut until 2020 or beyond. And in terms of fantasy baseball, many of these players won’t be on fantasy radars until later than that. It’s not like the NFL where most 1st rounders are expected to have starting jobs immediately. Or even the NBA where close to half of the top 30 selections will have impact the following season. Baseball is different.

Here’s a look at a few names of the past 5 MLB drafts that have made fantasy impact:

2012 MLB Draft

  • #1 Carlos Correa
  • #2 Bryon Buxton
  • #3 Mike Zunino
  • #4 Kevin Gausman
  • #9 Andrew Heaney
  • #10 David Dahl
  • #11 Addison Russell
  • #15 Tyler Naquin
  • #16 Lucas Giolito
  • #18 Corey Seager
  • #19 Michael Wacha
  • #22 Marcus Stroman
  • #32 Jose Berrios
  • #33 Zach Eflin
  • #36 Stephen Piscotty
  • #38 Mitch Haniger
  • #39 Joey Gallo
  • #41 Lance McCullers Jr.
  • #44 Travis Jankowski

Quite a group but still just 19 out of the top 60 picks have had fantasy impact. Some of those 19 have made questionable fantasy impact as well. Let’s move on to the next draft.

2013 MLB Draft

  • #2 Kris Bryant
  • #3 Jon Gray
  • #13 Hunter Renfroe
  • #17 Tim Anderson
  • #25 Christian Arroyo
  • #32 Aaron Judge
  • #34 Sean Manaea
  • #39 Corey Knebel

Down to just 8 of the top 40 who have had fantasy impact. On top of that, half of these players made most, if not all, of their fantasy impact this season. The trend continues as we head to 2014.

2014 MLB Draft

  • #3 Carlos Rodon
  • #4 Kyle Schwarber
  • #7 Aaron Nola
  • #10 Michael Conforto
  • #13 Trea Turner
  • #21 Bradley Zimmer

Just 6 of the top 40 from this draft. Another trend we will continue to see even with players who have had fantasy impact is that they have yet to reach their full potential. Not even players from the 2012 draft have all reach the high ceilings scouts and experts projected them for. Let’s go to 2015.

2015 MLB Draft

  • #1 Dansby Swanson
  • #2 Alex Bregman
  • #7 Andrew Benintendi
  • #9 Ian Happ

This is pretty much the only recognizable names from the top 200 of this draft class. You have to go to #254 with Koda Glover to find a 5th name. Let’s see how the class of 2016 has done so far.

2016 MLB Draft

  • ?????

Believe it or not, there have been 0 fantasy relevant players drafted in 2016. That’s not to say the class of 2016 won’t have fantasy impact players, of course it will. This is just to show the difference the MLB draft has on fantasy sports compared to the other sports.

Sure there are numerous players taken past the 1st few rounds who have had fantasy impact, but most of them don’t gain ‘prospect hype’ until years after the draft. Take Cody Bellinger for instance. Bellinger was drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 MLB draft. Probably not on many fantasy radars then. It wasn’t until 2016 when Bellinger ranked #54 on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects. Next year, he stormed up to #7 and now he is arguably a top 100 fantasy option. Bellinger’s path was unique. Not many players can make an impact in such a short time period. Even then, the time period he made the most heads turn was a full 3 years after he was drafted.

The 2017 MLB draft will be fun for baseball nerds, myself included, but we all need to realize it will take time for any of these players to lead our fantasy teams to greatness. For now, sit back, relax, and enjoy watching the next Kris Bryant or Marcus Stroman develop before our eyes.