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A look at the Dodgers best picks by round

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Who were the best 1st, 2nd, 3rd round and more picks?

St. Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers
2006 No. 1 pick Clayton Kershaw making his 2008 MLB debut
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

This week you saw two players that were drafted and signed by the Dodgers from the 2016 draft make their major league debut. Catcher Will Smith, who was picked in the 1st round, and pitcher Devin Smeltzer, the 5th round pick, both debuted last Tuesday.

While time will tell if the 2016 draft will be one to remember, today’s exercise was to look through all the drafts and find out which players would be the best picks in their respective rounds for the Dodgers.

In order to qualify, you had to sign with the Dodgers but you did not have to make your major league debut with them.

One thing you will notice is that this list has a lot of pitchers and catchers on it. Part of that is because teams draft a lot of pitchers and especially in the later rounds. And if catchers can play major league defense, they always have a shot to make the majors.

Another note, if you see a draft round missing, that is because there was not a player who made the majors in that round.

Dodgers best draft picks by round

Round Player Position Year drafted bWAR
Round Player Position Year drafted bWAR
1 Clayton Kershaw Pitcher 2006 65.1
2 Lee Lacy Third Base 1969 20.2
3 Ron Cey Third Base 1968 53.8
4 Steve Yeager Catcher 1967 17.9
5 John Franco Pitcher 1981 23.4
6 Shane Victorino Outfielder 1999 31.6
7 David Ross Catcher 1998 10.2
8 Charlie Hough Pitcher 1966 38.4
9 Doyle Alexander Pitcher 1968 35.0
10 Cory Wade Pitcher 2004 1.7
11 Joc Pederson Outfielder 2010 9.4
12 Billy Grabarkewitz Third Base 1966 5.8
13 Greg Brock First Base 1979 10.0
14 Scott Van Slyke Outfielder 2005 4.2
15 Ted Sizemore Catcher 1966 16.1
16 Dave Stewart Pitcher 1975 26.5
17 Orel Hershiser Pitcher 1979 56.0
18 A.J. Ellis Catcher 2003 8.8
19 Tom Klawitter Pitcher 1980 -0.1
20 Jharel Cotton Pitcher 2012 0.2
21 Dennis Springer Pitcher 1987 0.6
22 Jeff Nelson Pitcher 1984 14.7
23 Ted Lilly Pitcher 1996 27.1
24 Mike Mimbs Pitcher 1990 -0.3
25 Paul Lo Duca Catcher 1993 17.9
26 Scott Schebler Outfielder 2010 2.6
28 Kyle Garlick Outfielder 2015 0.0
29 Red Patterson Pitcher 2010 0.2
30 Shawn Tolleson Pitcher 2010 2.1
31 Pedro Feliciano Pitcher 1995 5.7
33 Greg Shanahan Pitcher 1970 0.2
34 Matt Howard Second Base 1989 -0.6
35 Hector Ortiz Catcher 1988 0.9
36 Tom Niedenfuer Pitcher 1977 10.3
37 Victor Diaz Second Base 2000 0.7
38 Jeff Kubenka Pitcher 1996 0.1
39 Andy LaRoche Third Base 2003 -0.2
40 Ray Lamb Pitcher 1966 4.2
43 Eric Young Sr. Outfielder 1989 18.8
44 Garey Ingram Catcher 1989 0.1
54 Todd Williams Pitcher 1990 1.1
62 Mike Piazza First Base 1988 59.6
63 Bruce Ellingsen Pitcher 1967 -0.1

Some other notes about players that did not sign with the Dodgers

  • There is only one player drafted by the Dodgers that had over 100 bWAR in his career. That player is Hall-of-Famer Tom Seaver. Seaver was a 10th round pick in the 1965 draft but he did not sign for reportedly $2000-$3000 bonus the Dodgers were offering. Seaver would actually get drafted twice but he signed with neither the Dodgers or the Braves. Instead, he would eventually sign as a free agent with the New York Mets and go on to his great career.
  • The oft-told story that Chase Utley was drafted out of high school in the second round of the 1997 draft. He did not sign, instead he went to UCLA and he would later be drafted in the first round by the Philadelphia Phillies.

In the 1980s, the Dodgers traded two pitchers that they probably regret. The first was left-handed pitcher John Franco who is on the list as the best 5th round pick. Franco was traded to Cincinnati for shortstop Rafael Landestoy. He would make his major league debut in the following season and he would be a four-time All-Star with the Reds before his long stay with the New York Mets.

Left-handed pitcher Sid Fernandez did not make the list but the former 3rd round pick would end his career with 32.7 bWAR. Fernandez would make his major league debut with the Dodgers, pitching in two games in 1983. In that offseason, Fernandez would be traded with Ross Jones to the Mets for Carlos Diaz and Bob Bailor.

In compiling this list, it was fun to find where pitchers Dave Stewart and Orel Hershiser were picked. And Eric Young Sr. has to be one of the best drafted and signed 43rd round picks in major league history.

I hope you enjoyed going down memory lane and here’s to some new Dodger draft picks making this list in the future.