The Best NCAA Teams At Producing Impact Big Leaguers
While our College Preview aims to prepare readers for the 2019 season, we also like to keep an eye on the past. So in this exercise, we celebrate the programs that have produced the most impact big leaguers since 1999, which ushered in the modern era of college baseball with minus-3 bat restrictions and a 64-team NCAA Tournament field.
Schools are ranked here by the total of wins above replacement, as estimated by Baseball-Reference.com, compiled by alumni in the major leagues, ignoring players who posted negative WAR values.
1. Long Beach State: 214 WAR
The 2005 Dirtbags featured a lineup anchored by SS Troy Tulowitzki (2005, 7th overall) and 3B Evan Longoria (2006, 3rd overall) and a pitching staff led by RHP Marco Estrada (2005, 7th round) and RHP Jared Hughes (2006, 4th round). One year earlier, Long Beach State featured RHP Jered Weaver (2004, 12th overall) and LHP Jason Vargas (2004, 2nd round) at the head of its rotation.
While the mid-2000s was truly a golden era for LBSU talent, Tulo and Longoria aren’t the only prominent infielders in program history. SS Matt Duffy (2012, 18th round) and SS Danny Espinosa (2008, 3rd round) have had lengthy big league careers, while Rockies SS Garrett Hampson (2016, 3rd round) and Mets 2B Jeff McNeil (2013, 12th round) represent the next wave.
2. Arizona State: 152 WAR
The 2008 Sun Devils boasted a trio of eventual first-round picks in 1B Ike Davis (2008, 1st round), 3B Brett Wallace (2008, 1st round) and RHP Mike Leake (2009, 8th overall), plus also OF Jason Kipnis (2009, 2nd round). Davis, Leake and Kipnis all had moments in the sun in the big leagues.
Pirates RHP Trevor Williams (2013, 2nd round) is the most prominent ASU alum in his peak years.
3. UCLA: 139 WAR
One of the greatest pitching duos in college baseball history helped guide the Bruins to the 2010 CWS finals. A year later RHP Gerrit Cole (2011, 1st overall) and RHP Trevor Bauer (2011, 3rd overall) became the highest-drafted pair of college pitchers ever.
Otherwise, UCLA is best known for producing impact infielders. Not even considering 3B Troy Glaus, a 1997 draft, the program counts 2B Chase Utley (2000, 1st round), SS Brandon Crawford (2008, 4th round) and 3B Garrett Atkins (2000, 5th round) as alumni.
Angels RHP Griffin Canning (2017, 2nd round), Pirates 2B Kevin Kramer (2015, 2nd round) and and Athletics RHP James Kaprielian (2015, 1st round) are the best bets to extend the Bruins’ big league tradition.
4. Louisiana State: 122 WAR
Hard-hitting college SSs Alex Bregman (2015, 2nd overall) and Aaron Hill (2003, 1st round) made a significant impact at other infield positions in the majors. They headline a strong crop of LSU infielders than also include 2B DJ LeMahieu (2009, 2nd round), SS Ryan Theriot (2001, 3rd round) and 2B Mike Fontenot (2001, 1st round).
5. Missouri: 121 WAR
The list of prominent Mizzou products who went on to star in the big leagues is short but sweet. It’s headed by three-time Cy Young Award winner RHP Max Scherzer (2006, 1st round) and four-time all-star 2B Ian Kinsler (2003, 17th round), an Arizona native who played one year at Arizona State.
6. Cal State Fullerton: 115 WAR
7. Arkansas: 108 WAR
The Razorbacks count two Cy Young Award lefthanders as alumni: Cliff Lee (2000, 4th round) and Dallas Keuchel (2009, 7th round). The program also produced big leaguers of note such as 2B Logan Forsythe (2008, 1st supp), LHP Drew Smyly (2010, 2nd round) and 3B Brian Anderson (2014, 3rd round).
One Razorback has huge potential to exceed Lee and Keuchel, and that’s Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi (2015, 7th overall), who was the 2015 College Player of the Year and 2016 No. 1 prospect in baseball.
Numbers Game: Third Is The Word
College third basemen drafted with a top-10 overall pick almost always pan out.
8. Miami: 99 WAR
The Hurricanes have one superstar alumnus in OF Ryan Braun (2005, 5th overall) and a number of contributors who have turned in long, productive careers, including OF Jon Jay (2006, 2nd round), C Yasmani Grandal (2010, 1st round) and 1B Yonder Alonso (2008, 7th overall).
White Sox C Zack Collins (2016, 10th overall) could be the next notable Miami product in the majors.
9. Georgia Tech: 96 WAR
The Yellow Jackets’ alumni roll includes big switch-hitting bats 1B Mark Teixeira (2001, 5th overall) and C Matt Wieters (2007, 5th overall) and also OF Charlie Blackmon (2008, 2nd round), who was better known as a pitcher until he was a Georgia Tech senior.
10. Southern California: 88 WAR
The Trojans produced three first-round arms in the form of LHP Barry Zito (1999, 9th overall), RHP Mark Prior (2001, 2nd overall) and RHP Ian Kennedy (2006, 1st round), albeit Zito and Prior were transfers from other programs. One of the few notable USC position players in a sea of pitchers is 1B Lucas Duda (2007, 7th round).
On The Rise Vanderbilt: 83 WAR
The Commodores' fortunes on future lists like this could depend on how youngsters like RHP Walker Buehler (2015, 1st round), SS Dansby Swanson (2015, 1st overall) and Braves prospect RHP Kyle Wright (2017, 5th overall) pan out in the big leagues.
The program has otherwise been a pitching factory with the gy of LHP David Price (2007, 1st overall), RHP Sonny Gray (2011, 1st round) and LHP Mike Minor (2009, 7th overall) reaching high heights in the majors.