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How Many MLB Draftees Make It To The Majors

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Over three days in early June, more than 1,200 players will have their long-time dreams come true. They will hear their names called as selections in the 2019 draft.

Of those more than 1,200 draftees, more than 900 players will agree to terms and sign contracts to become professional baseball players. With one dream fulfilled, they will set their sights on a bigger dream—becoming a major league player.

And for more than 700 of those 900 pro players, that dream will go unfulfilled.

In studying every draft since Baseball America began covering the draft in 1981, we wanted to answer a very simple question: how many players drafted in June’s MLB draft will eventually make it?

The answer is less than one in five. It’s too early to judge the 2011 to 2018 drafts, but from 1981-2010, 17.6 percent of players who were drafted and signed ended up making it to the majors.

Those odds vary dramatically depending on where a player is drafted. First-round picks can expect to reach the major leagues. First-round picks who don’t make it are the exception. From 1981 to 2010, 73 percent of first-round picks reached the majors. In 2004, only two of the 29 first-round picks who signed failed to make the majors—a 93 percent success rate that will be hard to beat.

But that success rate drops off quickly. By the second round, the rate of players who reach the majors dips to 51 percent. In the third round, 40 percent are eventually going to be major leaguers. From there it continues to steadily dip.

Looking at how many draftees end up serving as more than a callup/fill-in sees that number drops dramatically again. Very rarely are there 100 draftees in a draft who manage to produce 0.1 WAR. Only 9.8 percent of draftees who signed have managed to register 0.1 career WAR, which is roughly 83 players per season.

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