Prep Baseball Report

MLB Draft Review (2017-2021): NL Central

By David Seifert
Director of College Scouting

Leading off with the National League Central Division, here's a look at how the 2017-2021 draft classes are shaping up using WAR.

Collectively, the division has produced 81 Major Leaguers and an 80.1 bWAR over those five drafts. These totals place the division third in total WAR and fourth in total number of Major Leaguers when compared to the other five divisions across MLB.

Within the NL Central, the Reds have flipped the script, powering to No. 1 in the division and tied for fourth overall in MLB with a total of 26.1 WAR. They’ve had the resources ($61.2M in bonus money) and have used it efficiently. Their ascent to the top of the NL Central is in stark contrast to the results of our last research in 2022 when we evaluated the 2015-2018 draft classes. At that time they were among the worst at draft and development, ranking No. 27 in Return on Investment (ROI). (For more information on our previous review from January 2022, click here: NL Central Draft Review.)

Replacing the Reds in the basement of the NL Central are the Pirates who produced just 4.1 WAR (tied for No. 28 overall in MLB) and have received the least ROI of all 30 teams. The Cardinals have slipped a bit from our 2022 research, falling from No. 1 overall in total WAR and ROI in MLB to No. 17 in total WAR and No. 7 in ROI. Mostly living off the returns of Nico Hoerner, the Cubs again settle into the middle of the pack, ranking No. 13 in overall WAR and No. 8 in ROI. Another middle-of-the-packer, the Brewers slot in at No. 14 in ROI and No. 16 in combined WAR.

Team ROI ($/1.0 WAR) Total WAR # of Picks to MLB
Cardinals $2,086,892 18.6 15
Cubs $2,233,675 17.7 13
Reds $2,344,444 26.1 19
Brewers $3,043,674 14.1 14
Pirates $14,978,024 4.1 20


+ 2017 MLB Draft

  • First Round: Brendan Little (-0.3 WAR), No. 27 overall; Alex Lange (1.8 WAR) No. 30 overall.
  • WAR Leader: Keegan Thompson, (2.1 WAR; 3rd Round)
  • All Draft WAR Totals Combined: 5.5 WAR
  • ML'ers to date: 9 (Little, Lange, Thompson, Cory Abbott, Erich Uelmen, Nelson Velazquez, Jeremiah Estrada, Jared Young, Brandon Hughes)
  • Signing Bonuses: $8.71M

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