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States With The Fewest First-Round High School MLB Draft Picks


Image credit: Rob Manfred (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The 60th iteration of the MLB Draft will be conducted next month.

In six decades of draft history, the states of California, Florida and Texas have produced the most first-round picks out of high school. In the past 25 years, Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have taken huge strides in terms of first-round prep talent.

Yet, even with all those decision points since the first draft in 1965, all those miles traveled by scouts and all those bonus dollars handed out, there remain five U.S. states from which not a single high school player has ever been drafted in the first round.

Those states are Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

Four of those states—all but West Virginia—have never had a first-rounder of any type, be it high school, college or junior college. 

West Virginia University has two first-round picks in program history: Chris Enochs (1997) and Alek Manoah (2019). Mountaineers shortstop JJ Wetherholt will make it three WVU first-rounders when he is drafted this year.

The state with the best chance to end its first-round high school drought is North Dakota. Drew Rerick of Fargo’s Davies High is a 6-foot-5, 230-pound righthander with a fastball up to 97 mph. 

Rerick ranks No. 164 on the BA draft ranking. MLB teams generally shy away from the risk associated with prep pitchers early in the draft, so his odds of being drafted with a top 30 pick are remote. Still, the state of North Dakota producing a top draft prospect at all is notable. 

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MLB Draft One-Hit Wonders

Nine states can claim only one high school first-rounder. Three of those nine states—Idaho, Iowa and Nebraska—have preps ranked in or near the top 50 for this year’s draft. A fourth state, Hawaii, has a high schooler ranked inside the top 200.

Here’s an overview of the top contenders to double their states’ first-round representation:

  • Tyson Lewis plays shortstop for Omaha’s Millard West High. He made the High School All-America first team thanks to his speed, athleticism and improved production. Lewis is one of the more prominent helium prospects for 2024 and could become the second-ever Nebraska high schooler ever drafted in the first round.
  • Blackfoot High righthander Dax Whitney made the High School All-America first team and is the rare Idaho prep who could be in first-round consideration. His 6-foot-5 frame and four-pitch stand out. 
  • The Iowa prep first-round hopeful is Ankeny Centennial High’s Joey Oakie, an athletic, low-slot righthander who already throws in the mid 90s.
  • Kamehameha High outfielder Jace Souza is Hawaii’s best chance at a prep first-rounder. He ranks No. 114 in the 2024 class. 

States With Only One High School First-Rounder

Only players drafted in the “natural” first round are considered. We’ve excluded supplemental, compensatory, competitive balance or other in-between-rounds picks.

Hawaii: Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waiakea High (2018)

The Brewers drafted Medeiros 12th overall in 2014 and traded him to the White Sox in 2018. He topped out at Triple-A in 2022, his last pro season.

Idaho: Mike Garman, RHP, Caldwell High (1967)

The Red Sox drafted Garman third overall in 1967, making him the highest-ever pick from Idaho in the third-ever draft. He spent nine seasons in MLB as a journeyman reliever for five teams. 

Iowa: Bill Burbach, RHP, Wahlert Catholic High in Dubuque (1969)

The Yankees drafted the one and only Iowa high school first-rounder 19th overall in the inaugural draft. Burbach turned in a league-average season as a 21-year-old rookie in 1969, but his career unraveled a year later with a severe case of flu and he threw just 20 more big league innings.

Maine: Mark Rogers, RHP, Mount Ararat School in Topsham (2004)

Rogers excited scouts when he hit 98 mph as a senior and allowed just three hits against Maine high school competition. The Brewers drafted him fifth overall in 2004, but as a pro he battled control and injuries—he appeared in eight Prospect Handbooks—ultimately logging just 49 MLB innings. 

Montana: Les Rohr, LHP, Billings West High (1965)

The Athletics chose Arizona State outfielder Rick Monday with the first pick in the first MLB draft. The Mets held the second pick in 1965 and chose Rohr, making him the first high school player ever drafted. Six decades later, he remains the only Montana first-rounder. Injuries limited Rohr to 24 big league innings.

Nebraska: Jim Haller, RHP, Creighton Prep in Omaha (1970)

Alex Gordon could have given Nebraska a second prep first-rounder, but he was strongly committed to the University of Nebraska and made it to campus. That leaves Haller as the state’s sole high school first-rounder. The Dodgers drafted him ninth overall in 1970, but an arm injury short-circuited his career at Triple-A.

New Hampshire: Chris Carpenter, RHP, Trinity High in Manchester (1993)

The Blue Jays drafted Carpenter 15th overall in 1993 and received three good seasons from him in between chronic injuries before ultimately releasing him in 2002. The Cardinals pounced and got six good seasons out of Carpenter—but also three injury-shortened ones—including a Cy Young Award campaign in 2005.

Rhode Island: Rocco Baldelli, OF, Bishop Hendricken HS in Warwick (2000)

Baldelli was a wildly successful high school athlete in Rhode Island, standing out in track, basketball and volleyball in addition to baseball. The Rays drafted him sixth overall in 2000, and he was a 21-year-old rookie sensation just three years later. Baldelli had his career cut short by injuries and a rare muscle disorder. He shifted seamlessly into coaching and is now the Twins’ manager.  

Wyoming: Brandon Nimmo, OF, East High in Cheyenne (2011)

Nimmo is one of the most unlikely first-round picks in history. The Mets drafted him 13th overall in 2011 based on Wyoming not offering high school baseball. But Nimmo shined on the showcase circuit, in American Legion ball and with his athletic background as a football and track star.

Other States With A Low Number Of High School First-Rounders

Another six states have fewer than five high school first-rounders. Delaware and Utah have two each. Arkansas and Minnesota have three each. New Mexico and Wisconsin have four apiece.

The best candidates to pad those states’ first-round numbers are outfielder Slade Caldwell of Arkansas and shortstop JD Dix and righthander Jack Detienne, both of Wisconsin. 

Caldwell, in particular, is a contender. Consistently mocked to teams in the first round, the 5-foot-9 sparkplug for Jonesboro’s Valley View High ranks No. 20 in the draft class.

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