Of the so-called four major professional sports leagues in the U.S., MLB‘s draft is by far the hardest to assess.

Even the best players won’t make their big league debuts for two or three seasons. The ones who get fast-tracked are more than likely to be short relievers—guys who aren’t typically drafted high enough to garner national attention.

Mike Trout didn’t become a full-time MLBer until nearly three years after his draft date. Bryce Harper wasn’t down quite two years. And these are all-time outliers.

First overall pick Mickey Moniak probably won’t be in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform until 2019, and he might not get there until 2020. By contrast, Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram will be selected by the Philadelphia 76ers later in June and be expected to be their best player. Instantly.

It just goes to show just how much things can change for baseball players in developmental. So when grading these picks, it’s important to look more for perceived value than going all hot take about the players. Twenty-four teams passed on Trout in 2009. The Los Angeles Angels selected Randal Grichuk one pick before him.

This isn’t an exact science. With that in mind, let’s check in on how things played out.


2016 MLB Draft Grades 

Best Classes

Boston Red Sox

Notable Selections: LHP Jason Groome (12), SS C.J. Chatham (51) and RHP Shaun Anderson (88).

Let’s start with the obvious: Getting Jason Groome at No. 12 is an absolute steal. No one would have batted an eye if the Barnegat High School product went off the board No. 1 overall. He’s a premium left-handed pitching talent equipped with a mid-90s fastball and two solid off-speed pitches (changeup and curve).

Concerns about Groome’s makeup caused him to slip more than anything physical. He has never been in any trouble, but as Zach Braziller of the New York Post noted, teams began scurrying away over “maturity” issues. What those issues are is unclear.

“I really didn’t feel that bad because everything happens for a reason,” Groome said on a conference call, per Braziller. “I always said I wanted to end up somewhere where I’m comfortable and feel protected. There’s no better spot to do that than Boston. They’re my favorite team.”

Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald categorized Groome as “someone who likes to have fun, perhaps too much fun at times.” These shadowy quotes bear nothing substantive. He’s a 17-year-old star athlete who likes to have fun and might be a little immature.

Cool. What 17-year-old kid doesn’t like to have fun and isn’t a little immature? Until there is fire to justify this smoke, the Red Sox landed arguably the best player in this whole class because teams were a little afraid of paying him and because he doesn’t have the mental makeup of a 40-year-old investment banker.

That’s good value.

The Boston Red Sox went a little safer at No. 51 with C.J. Chatham, the reigning Conference USA Player of the Year. He’ll probably wind up playing third base or outfield given his height (6’4″), but he could provide real two-way value if he sticks. 

Shaun Anderson is an interesting fit given the fact he closed at Florida despite having more starter-worthy stuff. That could mean his arm is fresh as he embarks on an MLB career or that Florida may wind up being justified if he can’t last long innings.


Oakland Athletics

Notable Selections: LHP A.J. Puk (6), RHP Daulton Jefferies (37) and RHP Logan Shore (47).

Another year, another solid Billy Beane draft. The Oakland Athletics general manager has built a reputation as a team-building demigod by drafting well, particularly in regard to young pitchers. He focused on the rotation early in this year’s draft, and that should result in a stocked rotation.

Like Boston, this starts with taking advantage of a top prospect who fell too far. A.J. Puk was Baseball America‘s top-rated player in this entire class. He lasted all the way to the sixth pick.

The Florida product is listed at 6’7″ and 230 pounds and struck out 95 batters in 70 innings as a junior. His command has been a little iffy, and his 2-3 overall record scared some teams off, but Puk is borderline unhittable when he’s firing on all cylinders.

“I probably did a little jig, to be honest,” A’s director of scouting Eric Kubota said of Puk’s availability, per John Shea of SFGate.com. “We started hearing this morning he was sliding for whatever reasons. We never thought we’d be able to talk about him with the sixth pick. We were pretty excited when he was there.”

Oakland continued its run on pitchers by selecting Cal’s Daulton Jefferies and Logan Shore, who played with Puk at Florida. Jefferies made only eight starts this season because of a shoulder injury. But he was 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA in those appearances, flashing a next-level command of his pitches in the strike zone.

Shore is 11-0 with a 2.44 ERA, and while he hasn’t had the national attention of his teammate, he has been a bastion of consistency.


Milwaukee Brewers

Notable Selections: OF Corey Ray (5), 3B Lucas Erceg (46), C Mario Feliciano (75) and RHP Braden Webb (82).

This draft should go a long way toward giving the Brewers’ minor league system some life. Louisville outfielder Corey Ray is one of the most ready-made hitters in the entire class. He’ll find his way on base and has the wheels to be a consistent threat on the basepaths. If he develops even average power, there’s a chance he’ll be a consistent 20-20 guy.

“He has the ability to impact the game in multiple ways, which is something we were looking for in this pick,” general manager David Stearns said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He’s an up-the-middle position player with above-average speed. He gets on base, and once he gets on base he has the ability to disrupt the other team.”

The Brewers continued their push toward better everyday players by taking third baseman Lucas Erceg, who has one of the best power bats in the class. The Menlo College star set a school record with 20 home runs this season after transferring from Cal. His departure from the Golden Bears because of eligibility issues hurt both him and the team, which struggled to find a middle-of-the-order replacement.

Puerto Rican catcher Mario Feliciano should also bring some pop at that spot if he can develop enough to stay there. Feliciano’s defensive development is paramount to his becoming a solid MLB player. If he has to switch positions—say, to first base—then his plus power becomes relative. But a guy who can hit 20 dingers from behind the plate is valuable in today’s game.

South Carolina’s Braden Webb was the first of five college pitchers the Brewers took on Day 2 of the draft and is by far the best. Webb went 10-5 during the regular season and struck out 123 batters in 94.1 innings.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com