People say it takes five years before you can evaluate a draft, but obviously we like to give our opinions on them every step of the way in those five years, so I thought it would be a useful exercise to take a look at how wisely the entire division has used it's opportunities for selecting players in the five drafts prior to the one just held.
I'll rank each team's draft by taking into account how many from the draft made the majors, the likely impact of those players drafted on the team, or the trade value of players from that draft on the team. So for instance in 2001, the Diamondbacks drafted Dan Uggla, but since they let him go in the Rule V draft and essentially got nothing for him, he won't score them many points despite his contributions in Miami. Conversely, the Dodgers were able to trade Edwin Jackson (with Chuck Tiffany) to Tampa Bay for Danys Baez and Lance Carter, so the positive contribution of Baez this year counts in the Dodgers favor' for that draft.
San Francisco - The Giants get knocked for their drafting, or lack thereof, sometimes, but it's hard to argue that anybody in the division had a better draft in 2001 than San Fran did. Of course, it helps when you have three first round selections. Their first two picks, Brad Hennessey and Noah Lowry are already important established members of the MLB franchise, and you go down the list and see several key role players who have also given solid contributions such as Todd Linden, Justin Knoedler (not as an RHP, though) and Jason Waddell. Add in Randy Winn's contributions as the result of a trade with Seattle for Jesse Foppert, and this class easily outpaces the rest of the division.
Arizona - Had they not lost Uggla for only seventy-five grand, the D-backs might be a little closer to San Fran in terms of return on this draft. Chad Tracy was the best selection in the draft by any team in the division, and with Mike Gosling, Scott Hairston, and Brian Medders' work as role players, this is another draft to be pleased with. Jason Bulger didn't quite work as well as you hope a first round draft choice usually does, but in Alberto Callaspo they got a young player with upside from the Angels in a trade for him.
San Diego - Josh Barfield redeems this draft, and to seal their third place finish, they also get some production from Jason Bartlett besides. You lucked out here, San Diego. First round selection Gautreau yielded Corey Smith in a trade with Cleveland. Although Smith and Bozied are still climbing the ladder, they are likely not to contribute much at the MLB level, certainly not as much as hoped when they were originally drafted.
- Colorado - Really, none of these other three teams got remotely close to the D-backs or Giants as far as return on the 2001 draft goes, with the Padres, Rockies and Dodgers getting their entire return on the draft from one player so far, and none of the teams have much more left to come from the farm. At that point it's just a matter of deciding which player's contribution has done the most for their team. San Diego gets the overall nod among the three, as Barfield still has a lot of upside. Who's next? Being a Rockies fan, I'm probably a little biased in this selection, so if you want to put the Dodgers ahead, that's up to you. At any rate, since Cory Sullivan is an everyday player (albeit average, at best) and at a premium position, I gave him the nod over half of Baez.
- Los Angeles - Edwin Jackson at one point was thought highly enough of, that one could speculate that he by himself could bring the Dodgers' draft up to the status of the Giants'. Unfortunately, he hit a wall in his development just before he got to the MLB level, and the frustrated Dodgers finally traded him and the also promising Chuck Tiffany in the offseason for Baez and Carter. Baez, of course has been a godsend given the injuries to Eric Gagne this year, but the trade was for half of Baez and half of Carter, who hasn't quite turned out so nicely.