06/08/11 7:30 PM ET
RHPs, four-year colleges dominate Draft
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft wound its way to completion Wednesday, 50 rounds and 69 hours after it had begun on Monday night. Pittsburgh started a pitching-rich first round by drafting Gerrit Cole, and then teams settled in for the arduous task of restocking their farm systems.
Twenty rounds worth of players went through on Wednesday, many of them destined to fill out the roster of each respective team's lower-level affiliates. And now that the hard part is done, teams can begin negotiating with their draftees in order to get them under contract by the Aug. 15 deadline.
Cole, regarded as a potential front-line starting pitcher, will give the Pirates their second straight impact pitcher at the top of the Draft. Pittsburgh selected Jameson Taillon with the second overall pick in 2009, and is hoping for better returns on the two prospective aces than it got from first-rounders Danny Moskos and Brad Lincoln.
The Pirates have had the first overall pick three previous times, and they wound up with third baseman Jeff King (1986) and starting pitchers Kris Benson ('96) and Bryan Bullington (2002). Pittsburgh, which hasn't had a winning season since '92, is betting on development from within to take the next step.
The third day of the Draft produced some interesting statistics and trends, some of which were expected. Players from four-year universities continued to dominate, reaching a height (818 players) exceeded only once since 1985. Only 2008 (844 college draftees) outpaced this year's Draft.
The clear casualties, in this case, are players from junior colleges, who represented just 179 of the 1,530 players taken in the First-Year Player Draft. That total is the second lowest -- exceeding 2007 by just two players -- since 1987, and it's less than half of the all-time high (375 in 1994) during that time period.
The number of prep players chosen has remained fairly stable the past few seasons, if also markedly down from its peak in the 1990s. High school players represented 34 percent -- 520 out of 1,530 -- of the players taken this season, the most since logging 36 percent (542 out of 1502) in 2006. For contrast, prep players routinely broke 700 draftees and measured as much as 47 percent of the Draft pool as recently as the mid-90's.
Teams have clearly been coveting right-handed pitchers, accounting for 37.5 percent of the total Draft haul. There were only 218 left-handers drafted, a reflection of the principle of supply and demand.
Catcher was the busiest of the positions on Wednesday, with 63 backstops going in the final 20 rounds. Only one catcher had been selected in the first round, and 135 went over the three-day process. Shortstop was also a busy slot Wednesday, with 47 of the 135 shortstop draftees getting called in the final day.
Vanderbilt set a new SEC record by having 12 players selected, narrowly besting rivals South Carolina (11) and the University of Florida (11). Arizona State and Oklahoma also had 11 players taken, and two other schools (Connecticut and Fresno State) distinguished themselves by having 10 drafted players.
UCLA -- which produced Cole and No. 3 overall pick Trevor Bauer -- finished with nine draftees.
The players, fittingly, came from all over. Maine was the only one of the 50 states that didn't produce a draftee, and three states -- California (284), Florida (146) and Texas (144) -- combined to comprise more than a third of the Draft pool. Thirty-three players of Canadian origin and 21 from Puerto Rico were drafted, and there was one player taken from the Bahamas, Germany, Mexico and Venezuela.
Teams continued to make family connections Wednesday, which saw the sons of prominent players like Bobby Bonilla, Matt Williams and Charlie Leibrandt drafted. Three big league managers -- Mike Scioscia, John Farrell and Bob Geren -- had the honor of seeing their sons drafted to their respective teams.
All three of them, predictably, work in the same discipline as their fathers. Brett Geren and Matthew Scioscia -- drafted by the A's and Angels, respectively -- are catchers. Shane Farrell, taken by Toronto, is a pitcher, just like his father, a former big league starter and pitching coach.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.