MLB Opening Day Rosters Included 45 Players From Draft Rounds That No Longer Exist
Editor's Note: The ages for youngest and oldest players in the majors were in some cases incorrect because of a formula error. Those have been corrected.
On 2021 Major League Baseball Opening Day rosters, there were 45 players from rounds of the MLB draft that no longer exist.
MLB announced last week that the 2021 draft will be 20 rounds. That comes a year after an truncated five-round draft.
The length of future drafts will likely have to be determined as part of the broader Collective Bargaining Agreement that needs to be negotiated between the league and the MLB Players' Association. But with the elimination of 40 affiliated minor league clubs and short-season baseball as an entity, it’s very unlikely that the draft will ever return to the 40 rounds it was from 2012 to 2019.
Looking at active Opening Day rosters, 5.7% of all MLB players came from rounds 21 and beyond. Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, a 31st-round pick in 2010, remains the star of the late-round finds. Other notable late-round picks include Indians catcher Roberto Perez (33rd round, 2011) and Athletics righthander Sergio Romo (28th round, 2005).
The draft was cut from 50 rounds to 40 rounds in 2012, but Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson continues to represent those later rounds. The 50th-round pick from 2008 is the lone player left on an active roster who was drafted after the 40th round.
Looking at how many players come from each round of the draft provides some expected information. MLB teams do a solid job of drafting talent in the order one would expect. There are more than twice as many first-round picks (141) on active rosters as second-round picks (60). Similarly, many more second-round picks make the roster than third-rounders (38). But at that point the distinctions begin to blend. There are actually fewer fourth-round picks (31) on active rosters for Opening Day than fifth-round picks (37) and the ninth round (23) has more active players than the seventh or eighth rounds.
20th Century Draftees, 2021 Active Players
Thanks to Albert Pujols, the 1999 draft lives on.
Pujols, a 13th-round pick in 1999, is the final draftee from the 1990s playing in the major leagues. There were four active big leaguers on Opening Day rosters who were not yet born when Pujols was picked in June 1999.
The Cardinals are the deans of the long-ago drafts. In addition to Pujols, a Cardinals’ 1999 draftee, St. Louis also drafted the lone remaining 2001 draftee on an Opening Day active roster (Yadier Molina). And Adam Wainwright, one of two remaining active members of the 2002 draft, is currently a Cardinal—he was drafted by the Braves.
Thanks to Ryan Weathers (2019 first-round pick) and Garrett Crochet (2020 first-round pick), every draft but one of the 21st century is represented on MLB rosters. There are currently no 2001 draftees on active rosters.
Here are the most recent draftees in the majors:
1. Garrett Crochet, LHP Chicago White Sox Draft: 2020 Round: 1
2. Andrew Vaughn, 1B Chicago White Sox Draft: 2019 Round: 1
3. Cody Wilson, CF Washington Nationals Draft: 2018 Round: 13
4. Tarik Skubal, LHP Detroit Tigers Draft: 2018 Round: 9
5. Drew Rasmussen, RHP Milwaukee Brewers Draft: 2018 Round: 6
6. Codi Heuer, RHP Chicago White Sox Draft: 2018 Round: 6
7. Kyle Isbel, CF Kansas City Royals Draft: 2018 Round: 3
8. Ryan Jeffers, C Minnesota Twins Draft: 2018 Round: 2
9. Brady Singer, RHP Kansas City Royals Draft: 2018 Round: 1
10. Ryan Weathers, LHP San Diego Padres Draft: 2018 Round: 1
11. Jonathan India, 3B Cincinnati Reds Draft: 2018 Round: 1
12. Nick Madrigal, 2B Chicago White Sox Draft: 2018 Round: 1
13. Alec Bohm, 3B Philadelphia Phillies Draft: 2018 Round: 1
14. Casey Mize, RHP Detroit Tigers Draft: 2018 Round: 1
As you may expect, Pujols is also the oldest active MLB player, narrowly edging Rich Hill by a couple of months. Miguel Cabrera ranked among the youngest players on an Opening Day roster in 2004 when he was just 21. Now, he's joined the ranks of the oldest active MLB players.
The Top 10 oldest active MLB players are:
10. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers, Age: 37
9. Sergio Romo, RHP, Oakland Athletics, Age: 38
8. Darren O'Day, RHP, New York Yankees, Age: 38
7. J.A. Happ, LHP, Minnesota Twins, Age: 38
6. Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals, Age: 38
5. Adam Wainwright, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals, Age: 38
4. Oliver Perez, LHP, Cleveland Indians, Age: 39
3. Nelson Cruz, DH, Minnesota Twins, Age: 40
2. Rich Hill, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays, Age: 41
1. Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels, Age: 41
On the other end of the spectrum, Nationals' shortstop Luis Garcia, a 2020 call-up, remains the youngest player in the majors. Four of the top 10 youngest are on the Padres.
The Top 10 youngest active MLB players are:
1. Luis Garcia, SS, Washington Nationals, Age: 20
2. Ryan Weathers, LHP, San Diego Padres, Age: 21
3. Tucupita Marcano, 2B, San Diego Padres, Age: 21
4. Garrett Crochet, LHP, Chicago White Sox, Age: 21
5. Luis Oviedo, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates, Age: 21
6. Vladimir Guerrero, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays, Age: 22
7. Adrian Morejon, LHP, San Diego Padres, Age: 22
8. Fernando Tatis, SS, San Diego Padres, Age: 22
9. Cristian Pache, CF, Atlanta Braves, Age: 22
10. Alejandro Kirk, C, Toronto Blue Jays, Age: 22
The average MLB player is 29.1 years old. The median age is 28.6 years old.
Luis Garcia: Nationals 2020 Rookie Of The Year
Luis Garcia was the youngest player in the majors, but he sure didn't play that way as he carved out playing time and learned from the team's veterans.
Multiple studies have found that between 10 and 12% of the world's population is lefthanded. As you would expect, lefties are over-represented in baseball, especially when it comes to the pitching mound.
Roughly 2 of every 10 pitchers on Opening Day rosters were lefthanded.
Among hitters, the balance is even more shifted as many righthanders taught themselves to bat lefty.
Bats L 32.4%
Bats R 56.4%
But given the limitation of where lefty throwers can play on the diamond, the distinction among lefthanded throwers falls much closer in line with the percentage of lefties in the population.
Throws L 13.7%
Throws R 86.3%
Since lefty throwers are limited to the outfield and first base, they are over-represented at those positions, but even at first base, there are more righthanded throwers than lefties.
OF Throws Left 29.9%
OF Throws Right 70.1%
1B Throws Left 35.3%
1B Throws Right 64.7%
There's Still Hope
There are six nondrafted free agent on Opening Day rosters:
Matt Shoemaker, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Darren O'Day, RHP, New York Yankees
Andrew Kittredge, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Josh Taylor, LHP, Boston Red Sox
Mike Brosseau, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
Josh Fuentes, 3B, Colorado Rockies
And there are six players on Opening Day rosters who first signed with an independent league team before making it to the majors.
Trevor Richards, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners
Chris Martin, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Tanner Roark, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Eric Yardley, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Randy Dobnak, RHP, Minnesota Twins