Ranking past 15 No. 1 overall MLB draft picks, from top tier (Bryce Harper) to too soon to tell (Adley Rutschman) to mistakes (Brady Aiken)

Ranking past 15 No. 1 overall MLB draft picks, from top tier (Bryce Harper) to too soon to tell (Adley Rutschman) to mistakes (Brady Aiken)

For the second time in four years, the Orioles have the first choice in the MLB draft. Their most recent No. 1 overall pick came in 2019, when Baltimore decided to shape its rebuild around catcher Adley Rutschman, who has helped spark the Oroles’ recent turnaround with his solid two-way play.

Recent history says whoever Baltimore takes with the No. 1 pick will turn into a top prospect, at the least, and potentially an All-Star or even a Most Valuable Player.

From a potential Hall of Fame slugger (Bryce Harper) to a World Series MVP (Stephen Strasburg) to a player who never reached the big leagues (Brady Aiken), here’s a look at the past 15 players to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick and how they have fared. In this exercise, we rank the players in three categories: top tier, too soon to tell and mistakes.

Top tier

2010: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

Bryce Harper has lived up to the hype. The left-handed slugger famously left high school after his sophomore year to become draft-eligible as a 17-year-old, and Harper was an easy choice for the Washington Nationals that season and signed a $6.25 million signing bonus. He made his MLB debut in April 2012 and helped the Nats reach the postseason for the first time while winning National League Rookie of the Year. Harper had one of the best seasons in MLB history in 2015 at age 23 and unanimously won the NL MVP award after slashing .330/.460/.649 with 42 home runs and 124 walks with a 1.109 OPS. The six-time All-Star and 2018 Home Run Derby champ became a free agent after his age-25 season and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, the richest contract in the history of North American sports at the time. Harper, 29, who won his second NL MVP award in 2021 with the Phillies, has a career slash line of .281/.391/.528 with a .919 OPS and 282 home runs. While he’s currently on the injured list, Harper is of the elite players in baseball and is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

2007: David Price, Tampa Bay Devil Rays

David Price, a heralded left-handed pitching prospect out of Vanderbilt, received $8.5 million guaranteed, including a $5.6 million signing bonus, before quickly rising through the minor league ranks and helping the Tampa Bay Rays reach the World Series in 2008. Price, 36, who has a 155-82 record with a career 3.33 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, is a former Cy Young Award winner, a five-time All-Star and a 2018 World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox. He has also pitched for the Detroit Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers, but reports say Price is leaning toward retirement after the 2022 season, his 14th in the big leagues and the final season of the seven-year, $217 million free-agent deal he signed with the Red Sox in December 2015. Price in the Hall of Fame conversation.

2011: Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

Gerrit Cole has the distinction of being a first-round pick twice. The New York Yankees took the right-hander with the 28th overall pick in the 2008 draft, but Cole opted to attend UCLA, where he had a breakout sophomore season and solidified his top prospect status as a junior. The Pittsburgh Pirates gave Cole an $8 million signing bonus, the highest ever offered to a rookie, and he made his MLB debut in June 2013 and helped the Pirates reach the postseason three straight years. Pittsburgh traded Cole to the Houston Astros in January 2018, and he immediately became one of the game’s best starting pitchers and finished in the top five of Cy Young Award voting his two years in Houston before signing a nine-year contract worth $324 million with the Yankees, the largest for a pitcher in MLB history. The four-time All-Star has finished in the top five of Cy Young voting five times, including second twice, and has a career 125-65 record with a 3.20 ERA and 1,797 strikeouts. He’s been one of the best pitchers in the game the last four years and is putting together a Hall of Fame resume.

2012: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

Current Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias was in his first year in the Houston Astros’ front office when the franchise took shortstop Carlos Correa first overall as a 17-year-old out of a Puerto Rican high school ahead of the consensus top player, Mark Appel. After breaking his leg in the minors in 2014, Correa made his MLB debut in June 2015 and quickly made his mark, helping the Astros reach the playoffs while earning AL Rookie of the Year. He became an All-Star at the age of 22 in 2017, when he was a key member of Houston’s World Series championship team. He was an All-Star again in 2021, his last with the Astros. In March, Correa signed a three-year contract worth $105.3 million with the Minnesota Twins — the $35.1 million average annual salary became the highest for an infielder in MLB history — and he can opt out after each season. Correa has a career slash line of .277/.356/.479 with an .834 OPS and 143 home runs. He’s still elite at 27.

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