The high school talent in this year's MLB First-Year Player Draft was thought to be the best in recent memory, and yesterday's run on prep prospects proved that to be true.
Sixteen high schoolers were drafted in the first round -- up from 13 in 2006, 10 in 2005 and 12 in 2004. And 25 of the first 50 picks overall came from the high school ranks.
Mike Moustakas of Chatsworth (Chatsworth, Calif.) and Josh Vitters of Cypress (Calif.) were the top two prep players drafted. Moustakas was selected No. 2 overall by the Kansas City Royals and Vitters went No. 3 to the Chicago Cubs.
Moustakas, a Scott Boras client, clearly wasn't adversely affected by his association with one of baseball's most powerful agents. But two other Boras clients, Rick Porcello of Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.) and Matt Harvey of Fitch (Groton, Conn.), saw their stock drop because of the large signing bonuses they were expected to be requesting.
Porcello, rated the No. 1 prep prospect by RISE, fell all the way to the Detroit Tigers at pick No. 27. In the past three years, the Tigers have successfully inked players who were perceived as difficult to sign (Justin Verlander in 2004, Cameron Maybin in 2005 and Andrew Miller in 2006), so don't be surprised if Porcello ends up in the minors rather than heading to college at North Carolina.
Harvey, a fellow North Carolina signee, is a bit more likely to wind up in Chapel Hill, N.C., after being selected in the third round by the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels do have a recent history that suggests they will make a strong effort to sign the Connecticut right-hander. In 2004, the Angels picked Jered Weaver 12th overall but paid him nearly $1 million more than that year's No. 1 pick. Last year, the Angels selected No. 1 prep prospect Jordan Walden in the 12th round but later signed him for first round money.
High school heavy
Seven teams selected at least four high schoolers in the five rounds of the draft that were conducted yesterday. But none flocked to the prep talent like the Texas Rangers. Texas drafted six high school prospects, including two in the first round. The Rangers first scooped up local product Blake Beavan of Irving (Texas), who is rated the No. 5 prep prospect by RISE. Later in the first round, Texas added No. 4 prospect Mike Main of DeLand (Fla.
). The Rangers, who currently own the both the MLB's worst record (21-39) and the worst team ERA (5.50) clearly made pitching a priority.
San Francisco drafted five high schoolers overall, including three in the first round. The Giants, who have successfully developed Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum in recent years, clearly played to the strength of their organization in selecting two prep pitchers in the first round.
San Fran kicked off its draft by picking 6-foot-5 left-hander Madison Bumgarner of South Caldwell (Hudson, N.C.) at No. 10. With pick No. 22, the Giants added another towering hurler, this time 6-foot-7 righty Tim Alderson of Horizon (Scottsdale, Ariz.). The Giants final pick of the first round, No. 29 overall, was outfielder/pitcher Wendell Fairley of George County (Lucedale, Miss.).
While 36 members of the RISE Top 50 heard their names called yesterday, a few notable players were not selected.
Jack McGeary of Roxbury Latin (West Roxbury, Mass.), rated No. 14 by RISE, entered the season as a potential top-15 pick, but a drop in velocity and a commitment to Stanford scared teams away from selecting the 6-foot-3 lefty. Don't be surprised if McGeary is back in the discussion as a potential first rounder in 2010 after three years of college ball.
Two Boras clients went undrafted yesterday: No. 23 Greg Peavey of Hudson's Bay (Vancouver, Wash.) and No. 25 Kentrail Davis of Theodore (Ala.). Both should be selected in the later rounds today, but with the elimination of the draft-and-follow process it's less likely that either will sign than in previous years. Only two other top-30 prospects weren't selected, No. 19 Yasmani Grandal, a catcher from Miami Springs (Fla.) and No. 28 Christian Colon, a shortstop from Canyon (Anaheim, Calif.).