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Best Southern California MLB Draft Classes By Decade

col_23-Gwynn, Tony-Focus on Sport Getty.jpg
Tony Gwynn (Focus On Sport/Getty)

Since the advent of the draft in 1965, Southern California has been the preeminent region clubs mine for amateur talent.

Even in SoCal’s worst years for draft talent, an all-star or two can usually be found. But we’re here to focus on the most talent-rich draft classes in the region’s history, the ones that set the standard, fair or not, by which future classes from the region will be measured.

We highlight one draft class per decade from the 1960s to the 2010s. An asterisk (*) indicates that a player did not sign. HOF denotes Hall of Fame. Players listed in order of wins above replacement, according to

1969: RHP Bert Blyleven (HOF), OF Dwight Evans, 3B Doug DeCinces*, SS Rick Burleson, OF Jeff Burroughs

Blyleven won 287 games and ranks fifth all time with 3,701 strikeouts. Evans was a three-time all-star who won eight Gold Gloves. Burroughs won the 1974 AL MVP award.

1973: SS/OF Robin Yount (HOF), 1B Eddie Murray (HOF), 1B Jack Clark, OF Fred Lynn, OF Dwayne Murphy, RHP Mike Krukow

This class is the cream of the crop. In addition to two Hall of Famers, this group boasted an MVP award winner (Lynn), a four-time all-star (Clark), a 20-game winner (Krukow) and a six-time Gold Glove center fielder (Murphy)

1981: OF Tony Gwynn (HOF), 1B Mark McGwire*, OF Lenny Dykstra, 1B Cecil Fielder*

The remarkable Gwynn won eight NL batting titles. McGwire bashed 583 home runs and held the single-season record with 70. Fielder twice led the AL in home runs and RBIs.

1997: 2B Chase Utley*, 3B Troy Glaus, SS Michael Young, LHP Randy Wolf, RHP Jon Garland

Glaus went No. 3 overall to the Angels out of UCLA. Utley wound up with the Bruins after he didn’t sign with the Dodgers as a second-rounder. Both became World Series champions.

2009: 3B Nolan Arenado, RHP Stephen Strasburg, OF Khris Davis.

Strasburg went No. 1 overall, but it’s Arenado who has proven to be the leading light from this class.

2011: RHP Gerrit Cole, RHP Trevor Bauer, OF Kevin Pillar, RHP Joe Musgrove,

It’s early for this draft class, but UCLA teammates Cole and Bauer went first and third overall in this draft. Each has Cy Young Award-caliber stuff.


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