In June of 2016, the Dodgers traded Zach Lee to the Mariners for a little-known shortstop named Chris Taylor. Taylor, of course, famously retooled his swing after that season and turned himself into an All-Star and a fan favorite in Los Angeles.
I was writing about Taylor the other day and looked up the exact date of the trade on the Dodgers transactions page on MLB.com. I found the CT3 trade listed on June 19, but what really jumped out at me was the list of transactions from a few days prior to the trade. Los Angeles signed many of their draft picks from that season, and there are some pretty big names there.
So I thought we’d look at the 2016 draft, and maybe a couple other L.A. drafts that had a big impact on the franchise.
2016 Dodgers draftees to make the big leagues
- 20th overall pick: Gavin Lux
- 32nd: Will Smith
- 36th: Jordan Sheffield
- 65th: Mitch White
- 101st: Dustin May
- 131st: DJ Peters
- 161st: Devin Smeltzer
- 221st: Luke Raley
- 251st: Andre Scrubb
- 281st: Tony Gonsolin
- 341st: A.J. Alexy
- 371st: Graham Ashcraft (did not sign)
- 401srt: Cody Thomas
- 431st: Dean Kremer
- 701st: Bailey Ober (did not sign)
- 1001st: Zach McKinstry
- 1091st: Cal Stevenson (did not sign)
That’s 14 draftees who signed with the Dodgers and eventually made the big leagues, totaling 30 WAR so far.
The 2015 draft was another productive one for Los Angeles, although all the productivity is centered around their first pick (24th overall), Walker Buehler. Of the six other players L.A. drafted and signed who eventually made the big leagues, only Edwin Rios and Kyle Garlick a positive WAR, with the six of them (Josh Sborz, Willie Calhoun, Brendon Davis, Rios, Matt Beaty, and Garlick) combining for -2.3 WAR.
The 2013 draft brought in a lot of value from Cody Bellinger, but only four other players even made the big leagues, and Kyle Farmer is the only one of those four with a positive WAR. In 2012, L.A. drafted both Corey Seager and Ross Stripling, and we’d say those two worked out pretty well, although Jesmuel Valentin, Onelki Garcia, Darnell Sweeney didn’t do too great and Paco Rodriguez, Jharel Cotton, and Danny Coulombe haven’t been a ton better.
In 2008, the Dodgers drafted both Dee Strange-Gordon and Nathan Eovaldi, but both of those came a little later in the draft and their top picks haven’t panned out. The 2006 draft could have been one for the ages, with Clayton Kershaw going with the 7th overall pick and then L.A. taking another Texas high-schooler in the 49th round, this time a first baseman named Paul Goldschmidt. Unfortunately, Goldy didn’t sign.
The 2003 draft brought in Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp, and A.J. Ellis, which is quite productive, and 2002 got James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, and Russell Martin.
Obviously, not everyone the Dodgers toon in 2016 has panned out, and the jury is still out on several of those guys. But a group of Lux, Smith, May, and Gonsolin has potential to make that the deepest class of productivity the Dodgers have had in this century. Kershaw’s draft will win out on overall WAR, but getting four players with potential to be very, very good is about as much as any team can hope for in one draft.
(Of course, if all our dreams come true about Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone, the 2020 draft could prove to be the most efficient, as Los Angeles got those two guys with only six picks in the entire draft.)
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