First round belongs to prep stars
More than half of Draft's top picks from high-school ranks
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There was little suspense but plenty of theatrics at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports as Tampa Bay prepared to make the first televised pick in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft.
While the cameras rolled on the proceedings for the first time, the Devil Rays caught no one off guard when they selected Vanderbilt's David Price with the top selection. It had been known for several days in which direction the Rays would be going, and the club quickly confirmed all the reports that had it selecting the highly touted southpaw.
Still, the scores of Devil Rays fans on hand -- the public also was invited to attend the Draft for the first time -- let the team know how happy they were with the selection, chanting "Let's go Rays" and "We want Price," going into the pick and erupting when Commissioner Bud Selig made the selection official. Price became only the 11th collegiate pitcher to be selected with the top pick in the Draft.
He is only the fourth southpaw taken with the top pick -- the first since the Yankees selected Brien Taylor in 1991 -- and just the second collegiate left-hander to go No. 1 overall, joining Floyd Bannister (1976, Astros, Arizona State). Price's selection marks only the third time that college pitchers [1988-89, 96-97] have been chosen with the top pick in consecutive drafts.
Price, one of three finalists for the Clemens and Golden Spikes Awards, was 11-1 with a 2.63 ERA, while leading the nation with 194 strikeouts in 133 1/3 innings (13.1 strikeouts per nine innings).
"I really couldn't think about being No. 1," Price said. "I just wanted to go continue to go out there and have fun this spring, and that's what I did. If I went out and had fun, everything would take care of itself. And I didn't get the sense I was [Tampa Bay's] pick until a couple of days ago. I love playing and being around baseball, though, so the sooner [I get out there], the better for me."
While a collegian went with the top pick, the first round belonged to the high schools, with 17 of the 30 (57 percent) selections coming from the prep ranks. That's an increase from the 13 high school players chosen in the first round last year but a far cry from the record 24 (out of 24 selections) high school stars taken in 1971.
The Royals, who have selected sixth or higher in five of the last eight Drafts, including last year's top pick, went the prep route with the second overall selection, grabbing infielder Mike Moustakas out of Chatsworth High in California. While that quickly opened the floor to questions about when he ultimately would play -- Kansas City does have Alex Gordon projected as its third baseman for at least the next decade -- answers to such queries will have to wait at least until Moustakas signs.
Moustakas set California high school season and career home run marks this year with 24 and 52, respectively. He batted .577 in leading his team to league and city titles.
Josh Vitters, whom some had projected as going to Kansas City, did go early, as the Cubs gobbled him up with the third pick. A third baseman from Cypress (Calif.) High School, Vitters rode a booming bat to prominence, earning his place near the top of this year's Draft heap. While "signability" may be a bit of an issue -- the Cubs don't have a great deal of money to spend after their offseason splurge on Alfonso Soriano and last year's hefty deal with Jeff Samardzija -- Chicago is expected to reach an agreement with Vitters by the Aug. 15 cutoff date when it would lose him to Arizona State.
"It's always been my dream," said Vitters, who was in attendance at Disney World and became the first player to walk onto the stage and hold up his club's jersey in the new age of televising the Draft. "I'm just ecstatic. [Being here] was really important to me. We're making history, because this is the first time the Draft is being televised, and I'm very proud to be a part of it."
Vitters said he just wants to "go out and play ball," and that, at the moment, he doesn't anticipate any problems when it comes to reaching an agreement with the Cubs.
"Whatever is fair money for that slot is what I'll take," Vitters said. "I don't know if they work it off what the first pick gets or what, but we'll see. Just being able to play Minor League ball and pro ball is more important than the money to me."
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
The Pirates, who used their top pick to select a pitcher in 2001, '02, '03 and again in '06, went to the mound again with the fourth pick on Thursday when they grabbed Clemson's Daniel Moskos. The southpaw, who began the year as Clemson's closer before moving into the rotation, is 3-5 with a 2.91 ERA and six saves in 26 appearances (nine starts) heading into Friday's NCAA Super Regional opener against Mississippi State.
Baltimore closed out the top five by selecting Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters. He has power from both sides of the plate and also acquits himself well behind it. His arm is among the best in college baseball, so much so that he has served as the Yellow Jackets' closer at times. Wieters, a finalist for the Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award as the nation's top catcher, led Tech in home runs (10), RBIs (59), total bases (129) and slugging percentage. He also has 16 career saves.
Washington remained in the collegiate ranks for the sixth pick, grabbing the third left-hander of the round in Missouri State's Ross Detwiler. A split fingernail late in the season raised some concerns, but not enough to make the Nationals shy away from the player most consider to be the second-best lefty in the Draft behind Price.
Detwiler was 4-5 in 14 starts with a 2.22 ERA this season, and he held the opposition to a .198 batting average.
"[The Nationals] are getting a new park and are having a decent year," said Detwiler, who proclaimed his finger to be fine after throwing earlier this week. "They have a lot of good young players, and I'm looking forward to working with them. They'd been talking to me more than other teams, and I had a few interviews and sight tests with them.
"For the most part, though, I was clueless. I was very nervous, and I couldn't sit still. My feet were shaking. I think it's a good fit, though."
Milwaukee, already stocked with a host of young talent at the Major League level, added another booming bat to its stable with the seventh pick, selecting Matt LaPorta from the University of Florida. He led the nation in homers as a sophomore, but injuries caused his production to fall off last season.
LaPorta returned to Gainesville for his senior year and made the season a memorable one. He hit .402 with 20 homers and 52 RBIs this season. LaPorta, who is a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, also had an .817 slugging percentage.
The Rockies chose Vanderbilt right-hander Casey Weathers with the eight selection, while Jarrod Parker, a prep right-hander from Indiana, went ninth to Arizona. The Giants made North Carolina prep southpaw Madison Bumgarner the 10th pick before Seattle pulled a bit of a stunner by grabbing Quebec high-school product Phillippe Aumont with the 11th selection.
"I wasn't expecting that," the 6-foot-5 right-hander Aumont said. "They had taken me out to breakfast once five months ago. I was surprised because they took me from behind. I had most contact with Baltimore and Washington."
The Marlins had selected pitchers with their top pick in each of the last four years, but they bucked that trend Thursday by taking infielder Matthew Dominguez from Chatsworth (Calif.) High. The Indians then grabbed Beau Mills with the 13th pick out of Lewis-Clark State. The slugger is the son of former big leaguer and current Red Sox coach Brad Mills.
The high-school contingent made itself known through the middle picks of the first round, with prep players going 14th through 18th. The Braves got the high-school hit parade started by selecting outfielder Jason Heyward (Henry County High School (Ga.). The Reds followed by choosing catcher Devin Mesoraco of Punxsutawney Area High School in Pennsylvania.
Toronto tabbed Memorial High School (Texas) shortstop Kevin Ahrens with the 16th selection before Texas chose a native son at 17. The Rangers tabbed right-hander Blake Beaven from Irving High School, which is located in a nearby suburb of Arlington. St. Louis rounded out the run on high-school stars by selecting shortstop Pete Kozma (Owasso High School, Okla.).
Rice southpaw Joe Savery went at No. 19 to the Phillies before the Dodgers went the Texas high school route for the second straight season at No. 20. Los Angeles, having selected Clayton Kershaw with its top pick last year, picked Midland Christian right-hander Christopher Withrow, whose father Mike once pitched in the White Sox system. Withrow was 9-1 with a 1.30 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 50 innings this season.
The Blue Jays used their second pick of the round to select Tennessee catcher Jonathan Arencibia with the 21st pick, and San Francisco went back to the board for its second pick, choosing Arizona high school pitcher Tim Alderson at No. 22.
University of Arkansas-Fayetteville left-hander Nicholas Schmidt went to the Padres at 23, while Florida prep right-hander Mike Main went to Texas at 24 with its second pick of the round. University of San Francisco southpaw Aaron Poreda went to the White Sox on the 25th selection. Oakland followed by taking UC-Riverside right-hander Don Sims.
The Tigers made one of the more interesting picks in the latter half of the round at No. 27 when they selected Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) fireballer Rick Porcello. Most early mock drafts had Porcello, who brings his fastball in the mid-90s, going early in the round, but expected "signability" issues -- his agent is Scott Boras -- caused him to drop far and fast. Don't be surprised if he ends up at The University of North Carolina when the Aug. 15 deadline arrives.
The Yankees closed out the first round by selecting Andrew Brackman, a right-hander from North Carolina State.
Kevin T. Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.