Soon-to-be Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza wasn’t drafted until the 62nd round of the 1988 MLB draft, when the Los Angeles Dodgers made him the 1,390th overall selection. Not only was he the biggest steal of that draft, but he stands as one of the biggest draft steals of all time.

We mention Piazza to tell you this: The biggest steal of the 2016 MLB draft may not be listed on the pages that follow, just as nobody pegged Piazza as a steal nearly 30 years ago. As noted Friday when we hit on the biggest winners and losers on Day 2, we simply lack the clairvoyance needed to see into the future.

All we can do is take what we know about the players drafted this year, what the scouting reports and prospect profiles tell us—mix it up with some gut instinct—and make our selections.

While a number of things, including a player’s signability, were taken into consideration, our rankings primarily revolve around two criteria:

  • Where the player was selected versus where he was expected to go, based on both mock drafts and Baseball America‘s Top 500 list. When you see a player’s rank mentioned like this (No. 1), that’s where it came from.
  • How great a player’s upside is thought to be. A position player with a chance to play everyday in the majors is more valuable than a solid-but-unspectacular No. 3 starter, for example.

That’s it. There’s no convoluted statistical formula involved that requires you to reach out to your eighth- grade calculus teacher on Facebook for assistance, and no inside information that’s so well-guarded that not even WikiLeaks knows of its existence.

As we’re limiting this to our top 10 steals, there were a few players who fell short of making the cut. So to Rice University’s Jon Duplantier (selected by Arizona with the 89th overall pick) and, once again, to Mercer College slugger Kyle Lewis (Seattle, 11th overall, who didn’t make our list of Day 1 steals), our apologies.


*Note: Players who would have been drafted before Day 3, were it not for their strong college commitments, were not considered steals, as there’s no chance they’ll sign. An example would be Florida State commit Drew Mendoza (No. 42), who was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 36th round.

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