The most valuable recent draftees

Using WAR and signing bonus, Ryan Howard does come out on top

Originally Published: June 3, 2010
By Matt Meyers | ESPN Insider
Getty ImagesThe $125 million deal was a lot, but in terms of draft value, Ryan Howard is among the elite.

Once upon time, the Philadelphia Phillies were awful at the draft. It's hard to overstate this. In the 1980s, their first-round picks were Henry Powell, Johnny Abrego, John Russell, Ricky Jordan, Pete Smith, Trey McCall, Brad Brink, Pat Coombs and Jeff Jackson. You could do a better job if you had a subscription to Baseball America and a set of darts. A decade later, under the guidance of former scouting director Mike Arbuckle, the Phils had finally turned things around. They were not only hitting on first-round picks such as Pat Burrell, Brett Myers and Chase Utley, but also unearthing late-round gems; one of those finds has developed into the most valuable pick in recent draft history.