Grading the Dodgers' last 6 first-round draft picks

The LA Dodgers have a very uneven and questionable track record with their more recent draft picks.

Jul 5, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Bobby Miller (70)
Jul 5, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Bobby Miller (70) / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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The 2023 MLB Draft is set to begin on Sunday, July 9, and that means we will get to see who the Los Angeles Dodgers will be adding to their farm system very soon. This draft class looks to be very strong at the top, so teams like the Dodgers that are picking farther down are going to have their work cut out for them.

Here are the basics: the Dodgers do not pick until 36th overall. They would have picked at No. 26, but were bumped back 10 spots because they exceeded the luxury tax threshold by more than $40 million in 2022. They also have one of the league's lower draft bonus pools at $7,274,600 due to their draft position.

Historically, the Dodgers have done well with their first-round picks, with Clayton Kershaw (2006), Corey Seager (2012), Walker Buehler (2015), and Will Smith (2016) turning into some of the biggest stars in the game. However, the last several years have been decidedly more spotty in terms of success.

Here's how the Dodgers' last 6 first round draft picks are doing

There isn't a whole lot of science to these grades. No one is over here using algorithms based on scouting grades combined with projections based on their Double-A FIP. Math is too hard and we will leave that to those that can actually do it. These grades are purely subjective and could easily change pretty quickly if a guy falls off a cliff, turns into a stud, or gets hurt. At the end of the day, following baseball prospects is a lesson in disappointment and heartache.

One last note (because someone is bound to ask): no, we did not forget the Dodgers' 2022 first-round pick. The Dodgers did not have a first round pick in 2022 because they exceeded the competitive balance tax threshold for the 2021 season. The rules have changed a bit, but it is what it is.

Dodgers 2017 First-Round Pick: Jeren Kendall

Pick: 23rd overall
School: Vanderbilt University
Position: Outfielder

While there were concerns that he would swing and miss too much leading up to the 2017 MLB Draft, the Dodgers could not resist Jeren Kendall's rare athleticism when he fell to them at 23rd overall. If he could figure out his hit tool, Kendall was a guy that had a chance to have all five tools play as he could absolutely fly, had a ton of raw power, and played a premium position (center field). Guys like that don't usually make it that far down the first round.

Unfortunately, things didn't turn out as hoped for Kendall. The concerns about his hit tool proved to be spot on. While his first season as a pro turned out OK, he never posted a batting average higher than .219 during his next four seasons. The walk rate, power, and speed were all there, but he just never hit enough. After posting a .573 OPS in 2022, Kendall retired from baseball last December.

We can't necessarily blame the Dodgers for taking a shot on him with his kind of upside, especially given where they were picking in the first round. However, we can't ignore the fact that Kendall never made it past Double-A and flamed out before he made it to the big leagues.

Grade: C-

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