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MLB Draft: How have the last 10 No. 1 picks fared?

Unlike the NFL and NBA, the top selections in each year's MLB Draft may not appear in the majors for several years.

The MLB’s structure allows for draft picks to go straight to the minor leagues, where they can assimilate themselves with the professional game and begin their journey to the major leagues. 

Player development in the minor leagues and MLB occurs at a much slower rate than in the NFL and NBA, where youngsters are thrown onto the big stage from the get-go.

Let’s take a look at how the 10 most recent No. 1 picks in the MLB Draft have fared.

2022: Jackson Holliday (Baltimore Orioles)

The Baltimore Orioles have been a struggling franchise for quite some time, but a roster full of youngsters has helped them turn things around the past two seasons.

They look destined to be joined by Jackson Holliday, who received the largest signing bonus ever for a high school player at $8.19 million.

Most recently, he was promoted to the High-A Aberdeen IronBirds as he works up the ranks in the organization.

2021: Henry Davis (Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Pittsburgh Pirates are right alongside the O’s in terms of franchises who have struggled, but are turning things around.

Oneil Cruz took the town by storm in his rookie season last year, but it was Henry Davis who was the #1 overall pick.

The catcher/outfielder hybrid has a strong season with the Altoona Curve and just last month was finally called up to the big leagues. In his first career at-bat, he hit a double against the Chicago Cubs.

2020: Spencer Torkelson (Detroit Tigers)

The Detroit Tigers have also exceeded expectations thus far in 2023, but Spencer Torkelson’s time with the team has been very up-and-down.

After a strong 2021 season in the minors, he made the Tigers’ opening day roster in 2022. However, he was optioned back down to AAA Toledo mid-way through the year and has been fighting through injuries ever since.

2019: Adley Rutschman (Baltimore Orioles)

The fact that the O’s are on this list twice in the last four seasons supports the idea that they’ve struggled as of late.

However, Adley Rutschman has quickly become one of the most respected catchers in the league.

After getting called up during the 2022 season, he’s been a key to Baltimore’s success and has even been named to the 2023 Home Run Derby. 

2018: Casey Mize (Detroit Tigers)

To keep the theme alive, the Tigers are mentioned again in this list, this time with a #1 overall pick used on a pitcher.

The hype was fierce regarding Casey Mize, but like Torkelson, injuries have plagued him.

He began the 2022 season as the #2 pitcher in Detroit’s rotation; however, he ultimately needed Tommy John surgery and we have yet to see him return to form.

2017: Royce Lewis (Minnesota Twins)

Another AL Central team who recently had a #1 overall pick were the Minnesota Twins.

It was a long journey for Royce Lewis, who didn’t make his Twins debut until May of 2022.

In just 12 games he proved why he was a #1 overall selection hitting .300, but a torn ACL ended things in a flash.

However, he has since returned and was put back into the starting lineup for the Twins in May of 2023, although he is still not an everyday starter. 

2016: Mickey Moniak (Philadelphia Phillies)

The Philadelphia Phillies are coming off a World Series appearance in 2022, but things weren’t always perfect for the franchise.

Unfortunately, this #1 overall pick didn’t work out for them either.

Mickey Moniak didn’t get his first call-up to the big leagues until 2020 and then soon after suffered a broken hand. He has since been traded to the Los Angeles Angels and is currently in the minors.

2015: Dansby Swanson (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Arguably the most high-profile #1 overall pick in the last 10 seasons is All-Star shortstop Dansby Swanson.

While he was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks, it was with the Atlanta Braves who he won the World Series with in 2022.

He then became one of the most sought after free agents, ultimately signing with the Chicago Cubs for seven years and $177million.

2014: Brady Aiken (Houston Astros)

The Houston Astros have been the closest thing to a dynasty over the last decade, but they had a stretch of three straight #1 overall picks.

The most recent was Brady Aiken, but the franchise were unable to sign the lefty pitcher.

Aiken was the first #1 overall pick not to sign since 1983 and was then selected #17 overall in the 2015 Draft by Cleveland, who ultimately released him in 2021. 

2013: Mark Appel (Houston Astros)

Prior to Aiken and just a year after drafting All-Star and Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa in 2012, the Astros had a bit of another flop in 2013.

Mark Appel is a right-handed pitcher out of Stanford, but is no longer affiliated with Houston.

In 2015, the Astros traded him to the Phillies, where, after an 11.12 ERA this past spring training, was released in March.

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