The 2012 MLB Draft class might not have been as deep as the two classes that preceded it, but it produced plenty of premier talent nonetheless. Two Rookie of the Year Award winners, three All-Stars, and three players who have received MVP votes came out of the first round, and there’s certainly plenty of time for those lists to grow as time goes on.
Let’s take a look back at some of the biggest success stories and disappointments from the 2012 draft. And yes, the jury is still out on Twins outfielder Byron Buxton.
10 Biggest Successes
Carlos Correa, Houston Astros, 1st overall — Five years after being selected, Correa is the face of the team with the best record in the majors, and as the seventh-youngest player in the American League, he still has the potential to become substantially better. He’s fully justified his status as the top overall pick, and the Astros look brilliant for taking him rather than Mark Appel, who was projected to go first by most experts but ultimately ended up returning to Stanford for his senior year.
Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles, 4th overall — Gausman might never be the ace that the Orioles hoped he’d be when they took him fourth overall. With that said, their pitching staff needed a boost at the time, and Gausman quickly provided it by arriving less than a year after being selected. He’s pitched in 104 big-league games—more than any of his fellow 2012 first-rounders—and he’s been a durable member of Baltimore’s rotation for several seasons now.
Addison Russell, Oakland Athletics, 11th overall — Russell never delivered much value to Oakland, as they traded him to Chicago for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. That plan ended up crashing and burning for the A’s, as they ended up losing in the 2014 AL wild card game and then losing both pitchers in free agency. But Russell helped the Cubs win a World Series in 2016, and though he’s still developing as a hitter, he’s already a Gold Glove-caliber fielder. He projects to team up with Javy Baez to deliver elite defense up the middle for many years to come in Chicago.
Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers, 18th overall — It’s still up for debate as to whether Seager will the best player to come out of the 2012 draft. One thing that’s pretty much set in stone, though, is that he was the best value. While he somehow didn’t come off the board until the 18th pick, Seager broke into the majors by age 21 and has already managed to win a NL Rookie of the Year Award, earn NL MVP votes, make an All-Star team, and become one of the most electrifying hitters in baseball.
Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals, 19th overall — Unfortunately, Wacha’s been held back by chronic shoulder issues for a large chunk of his MLB career. When he’s been healthy, though, he’s been an extremely effective member of the rotation. Wacha won the NLCS MVP as a rookie in 2013, made the NL All-Star team in 2015 and is among the NL’s ERA leaders through the early part of 2017, so perhaps there’s something to his “odd-year magic.”
Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays, 22nd overall — It’s understandable why teams were flaky on Stroman going into the draft; he was a 5-foot-9, 185-pounder who had worked primarily out of the bullpen until his junior season at Duke, and it was far from a guarantee that he’d be able to succeed in a major-league rotation. Despite the fact that he’s dealt with multiple setbacks, including a positive PED test in the minors and a torn ACL, the selection of Stroman has quite literally been an organization-changer for the Blue Jays. He reached the big leagues less than two years after being drafted, and his strong performance was a major factor as Toronto ended a 21-year playoff drought and advanced to the ALCS in each of the past two seasons.
Stephen Piscotty, St. Louis Cardinals, 36th overall — Piscotty took longer than anyone else on this list to reach the majors, which was unusual for an advanced college position player such as himself. Since arriving, though, he’s been one of the most important members of the Cardinals’ lineup. He earned NL Rookie of the Year votes despite playing just over two months in 2015, and he hit 22 homers while posting a 114 OPS+ last season.
Lance McCullers Jr., Houston Astros, 41st overall — McCullers has dealt with durability issues during his young career, but he’s arguably been the Astros’ most consistently effective starter since arriving on the scene in May of 2015. The fact that he’s got an ERA just over 3.00 through his first three seasons in the American League is exceptionally impressive, and he’s exceeded his projected value as the 41st pick in the draft.
Alex Wood, Atlanta Braves, 85th overall — Wood has started more games than any other pitcher besides Wacha who came out of the 2012 draft class, and he’s been a steady mid-rotation starter for four-plus seasons now. That’s a strong accomplishment for a pitcher who was selected near the end of the second round.
Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks, 213th overall — Lamb was one of the best value picks in the 2012 draft, as he’s been one of the National League’s better third basemen for several seasons now after being selected in the sixth round. In 2016, his first full season as a starter, he hit 29 homers and posted a 115 OPS+ while playing in 151 games, and he’s been one of the most productive third basemen in the majors to begin 2017.
10 Biggest Busts
Mike Zunino, Seattle Mariners, 3rd overall — Zunino reached the major leagues exactly one year and one week after being drafted. Obviously, the Mariners rushed him to Seattle too soon, and the consequences of that aggressive move have been evident. This is the third straight season that Zunino has needed a tune-up stint in Triple-A, and he has an abysmal .193/.262/.362 career slash line in the majors. He’s a strong defender, but Zunino will probably never be the player the Mariners thought they were getting when they took him third overall.
Kyle Zimmer, Kansas City Royals, 5th overall — It’s kind of odd to think of Zimmer as a bust, since he’s generally been effective in the minor leagues, made both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline’s top Royals prospects lists this year, and is on the team’s 40-man roster. Since we’re five years removed from the 2012 draft and he still hasn’t pitched in the big leagues, though, it’s probably time to start accepting the fact that he might never be the front-of-the-rotation starter the Royals thought they were getting when they selected him. He’s currently on the disabled list at Triple-A with shoulder soreness, and there’s no telling whether he’ll ever be able to take that final step to the big leagues.
Max Fried, San Diego Padres, 7th overall — Fried’s still got quite a bit of time to turn himself into a big-league star. The 23-year-old is ranked 95th among MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects, and he’s had to deal with multiple obstacles during his short career, having been dealt to Atlanta as part of the Justin Upton megadeal in 2014 and then missing the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery. He still has yet to reach the big leagues, though, while other high school pitchers drafted behind him have already found success in the majors.
Courtney Hawkins, Chicago White Sox, 13th overall — It probably tells you something about the way Hawkins’ career has gone that five years later, his greatest claim to fame is still doing a backflip in the MLB Network studios on draft night. While he’s still just 23 years old and has impressive physical tools, he’s now been stuck in Double-A for three straight seasons and didn’t crack MLB Pipeline or Baseball America’s White Sox prospect rankings this spring.
D.J. Davis, Toronto Blue Jays, 17th overall — Much like Hawkins, Davis was a high schooler who had an enormously high ceiling, but not much of a track record. Davis has been patient at the plate and has shown the ability to steal a base when needed, and he doesn’t turn 23 until late July, so there’s still a solid chance that his career can be salvaged. This is his fourth consecutive season in A-ball, though, so things aren’t looking great for him at the moment.
Chris Stratton, San Francisco Giants, 20th overall — Stratton reached the big leagues with the Giants last season and has shown some intrigue as a bullpen arm. He’s never fully bounced back after taking a liner off his head during batting practice just two months after being drafted, though, and it seems very unlikely that he’ll ever break into the Giants’ rotation for a prolonged period. Considering that Stratton went two picks before Stroman, that’s got to be a disappointment for the Giants.
James Ramsey, St. Louis Cardinals, 23rd overall — While he wasn’t thought of as an exceptionally high-ceiling player when he was selected as a senior out of Florida State, Ramsey was thought to be a guy who could get to the big leagues rather quickly. He began his pro career in High-A and reached the upper minors by May of his first full season, but he never put up strong enough numbers in Triple-A to earn a shot in the big leagues. After being traded to the Indians for Justin Masterson in 2014 and then bouncing around to the Dodgers and Mariners organizations, he’s now out of baseball at age 27.
Deven Marrero, Boston Red Sox, 24th overall — Much like his cousin Chris, who has logged just 174 MLB plate appearances after being selected 15th overall in the 2006 draft, Deven Marrero hasn’t been much more than an injury replacement at the big-league level. The 26-year-old has a solid amount of positional flexibility, and there’s still a decent chance that he could have a long major-league career as a bench player, but there were certainly higher expectations for him since he was viewed as Boston’s potential shortstop of the future when they drafted him.
Stryker Trahan, Arizona Diamondbacks, 26th overall — Trahan’s career spiraled downward very quickly, and he’s already out of baseball at age 23. While he was drafted as a catcher, he was playing mostly in the outfield by 2014. He didn’t hit much either, posting a career .220/.296/.404 slash line, and he never reached the upper minors.
Victor Roache, Milwaukee Brewers, 28th overall — Roache was the 28th pick in the draft, so it’s not as if there should have been expectations that he’d turn into a big-league star. With that said, it’s still disappointing that Roache, a power hitter out of Georgia Southern who looked like he might rise quickly through the organization, still hasn’t played in a game above Double-A. After hitting 58 homers in his first three professional seasons, Roache has battled injuries and gone deep just four times since the beginning of 2016. The Brewers recently dealt Roache, 25, to the Dodgers, so he may be running out of time to prove himself.