The MLB Entry Draft can be a fickle thing. There is nothing about a 16-year old that guarantees major league success. Even the most 'toolsy' player can end up being a major league bust.
That being said, over the past few seasons, a couple front offices continue picking successfully. Maybe it's luck. Maybe they have a crystal ball or practice witchcraft. Or, perhaps more realistically, their scouting department is just better. Whether that actually means better at projecting future success or better at minimizing risk is debatable.
Regardless, these five teams seem to have drafting figured out:
The Red Sox make their way onto this list largely because of their 2011 draft class. Boston is known for wanting to be a competitive-now team. That usually means not a whole lot of high draft picks.
Back in 2011, under Theo Epstein, the Red Sox put together some crucial picks for building this 2016 team. At 19th overall, the Red Sox opened with Matt Barnes. Not a great opener honestly, though Barnes is contributing to a major league team while 20th overall pick Tyler Anderson has yet to make an appearance higher than Double-A.
What the Red Sox followed up with that year is what's really important though. At 26th overall they took Blake Swihart, at 36th they took Henry Owens, at 40th they took Jackie Bradley Jr., at 172nd they took Mookie Betts, and -- if that still isn't good enough for you -- at 292nd they took Travis Shaw.
The 2016 Red Sox owe an awful lot to the 2011 draft efforts of Epstein and co. Compensation picks for losing Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre played crucial roles as well. While compensation doesn't exist in the same way anymore, teams should recognize this rebuilding strategy.
Since 2010, the Dodgers have made some key additions via the draft. At 352nd overall in 2010, the Dodgers drafted Joc Pederson. In 2012 at 18th overall, the Dodgers got Corey Seager. Both represent key members of their 2016 success.
Even further, while he didn't stay with the team, Shawn Tolleson was originally drafted by the Dodgers. At 922nd overall in 2010, Tolleson finished with 35 saves last season for the Texas Rangers.
3. Chicago Cubs
Surprise, another Epstein team is on the list. Building through the draft has certainly become his modus operandi, though the Cubs seemed to have a plan in place before Epstein got there at the end of 2011. Matt Szczur was selected in the 2010 draft at 160th overall, and Javier Baez was selected ninth overall in 2011.
Following that up -- and under Epstein -- the Cubs key pieces Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber. While one could assuredly contend that nobody could have projected Bryant's success and -- at second overall -- the pick may have been a no-brainer. However, hitting on early draft selections is anything but certain, and the Cubs have shown an ability to do it lately.
Affectionately referred to as 'devil magic', the Cardinals are on some kind of streak under John Mozeliak. Since 2010, the Cardinals have drafted Tyler Lyons (289th overall), Kolten Wong (22nd), Seth Maness (350th), Michael Wacha (19th), Stephen Piscotty (36th), Marco Gonzales (19th), and Rob Kaminsky (28th).
Furthermore, Jack Flaherty was drafted 34th overall in 2014 and currently ranks in the Top 100 prospects according to MLB.com. Luke Weaver seems like another promising asset from the same draft at 27th overall. Time will tell if this streak of success continues.
Two teams that have employed Jeff Luhnow rank at the top of this list. Luhnow has been the Astros' general manager since late 2011. That means he's overseen the 2012 draft up until now.
With back-to-back-to-back first overall selections, maybe Luhnow's draft success in Houston was already assured. If you're of that mindset then, let's omit Carlos Correa (2012 1st overall), Mark Appel (2013 1st overall), and Brady Aiken (2014 1st overall) from the list. To compound matters of detraction, the way the Astros handled the Aiken situation was, at-best, a PR nightmare. However, criticizing a scouting department for that would be inadvisable.
So, with those three players omitted, who else have the Astros added? Before Luhnow got there, they drafted George Springer (11th) and Nick Tropeano (160th) in 2011. Even earlier, in the 2010 draft, the Astros added Delino DeShields Jr. (eighth), Mike Foltynewicz (19th), and Vincent Velasquez (58th). In 2012, they added Lance McCullers with the 41st overall pick. Most recently, they added Alex Bregman to their farm system and he now ranks as the 19th-best prospect in all of baseball.
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While past success surely doesn't beget future prosperity, these five teams have certainly shown their ability to help their situations at the draft. Should we look for these successes to continue? Or are there other teams that will follow these steps?