06/08/07 8:30 PM ET
New rules alter strategy on Day 2
Draft sees fewest high school players chosen since 1987
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
When the 1,453rd and final pick was made Friday evening, there were some significant changes in the approach to drafting high school players. For starters, there were only 476 prep players chosen, which represents the lowest total since 415 high school players were chosen in 1987. It was also only the second time in the past two decades that the number of high school players chosen dipped below 500.
There were 66 fewer prep players chosen than last year. In addition, high school players represented only 32.7 percent of those drafted, which is the lowest percentage since 32.8 percent of players chosen in 1987 came from the prep ranks.
So while Thursday's televised first round from The Milk House made history, Friday's action seemed as if it may have a bigger impact in the long run.
"I don't think it's a stretch," said Frank Marcos, director of Major League Baseball's Scouting Bureau, when asked of a correlation between the low total of prep players chosen and the new rules implemented this season. "I think going into the Draft, with the new rules, every club looked at not drafting as many high school kids because of the draft and follow. It's too early to tell if it's a trend, but it's something we'll have to see how it all works out on Aug. 15 [the signing deadline].
"I don't think it's at a point where I would say it's a trend. It's too early to make that determination. But if the first go-round is any indication, the clubs were looking more at college-age players and not the draft-and-follow guys."
Without draft-and-follows to stock up on, some teams quickly ended their drafting much sooner than they normally would have. Toronto went out in the 31st round, 19 rounds before the Draft ended, while the Padres departed in the 35th. The Mets and Dodgers exited in the 40th round.
|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|
Only a rally over the final 20 rounds kept it from being a landslide for college players. Of the 476 high school players selected, 220 of them (46 percent) were taken after the 30th round.
All that being said, it was still a collegiate player that highlighted the two-day event. When the Rays grabbed David Price with the top pick on Thursday, the several hundred fans in attendance at the Milk House erupted.
"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."
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 over 133 1/3 innings (13.1 strikeouts per nine innings pitched). 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, who was selected by the Astros out of Arizona State in 1976. His selection marks only the third time that college pitchers (1988-89, 96-97) have been chosen with the top pick in consecutive Drafts. The Royals chose Luke Hochevar with the first pick last year.
There were several selections of note on Friday. The Tigers grabbed Colin Kaline, grandson of Hall of Famer Al Kaline, in the 25th round. The White Sox tabbed manager Ozzie Guillen's son, Oney, in the 36th round while the Orioles selected manager Sam Perlozzo's son, Eric, in the 35th round.
And Florida made some folks take notice by grabbing Ernie Banks in the 44th round. No, not the Hall of Famer who played for the Cubs, but the first baseman from Norfolk State.
There weren't any players considered Major League ready to come out of the Draft, though there are some that believe Price may be close. There are also some pundits who believe Casey Weathers, Colorado's top pick and No. 8 overall, might also be close to being Major League ready. A converted reliever, Weathers hasn't been pitching long enough, though, to warrant any serious discussion on the matter. Only 19 players have gone directly to the Majors, the last being outfielder Xavier Nady, whom the Padres grabbed with the 49th pick in the 2000 Draft.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.