The MLB Amateur Draft kicked off yesterday, and the number one overall pick came as no surprise. 17-year old phenom Bryce Harper was selected with the first overall pick by the Washington Nationals, as the Nationals decided that Harper’s raw talent outweighed any “character issues” some claimed could be a problem with Harper. In all likelihood, there was never really any doubt in Washington as to who they would select first overall.
The 6 foot 3 inch Harper is widely regarded as the “LeBron James of baseball,” gaining national attention when he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16. Harper dropped out of high school in 2009 and obtained his GED, making him eligible for this years draft.
Harper enrolled in a community college, the College of Southern Nevada, and batted .442, with a .542 OBP and an absurd .986 slugging percentage. Harper also smashed the school record of homeruns (12) by swatting 31 this past season.
Although Harper is currently a catcher, there is thought of him switching positions. If Harper transitions to a corner outfield position, many believe he could reach the Majors within 3 years. However, Harper will be most valuable to the Nationals as a catcher because of his incredible bat and there is still a possibility that he may remain a catcher because of this reason.
The Pittsburgh Pirates took 6 foot 7 inch right hander Jameson Tallion with the second overall pick. The 18-year old pitcher attended The Woodlands High School in Texas, the same school that produced former Phillies first round pick and current Blue Jays prospect Kyle Drabek. Tallion is raw, but has tremendous upside, with a fastball that tops out at 99 miles per hour and a plus-curveball.
The rest of the first round of the draft looked like this:
3. Baltimore Orioles — Manny Machado
4. Kansas City Royals — Christian Colon
5. Cleveland Indians — Drew Pomeranz
6. Arizona Diamondbacks — Barret Loux
7. New York Mets — Matt Harvey
8. Houston Astros — Delino DeShields Jr.
9. San Diego Padres — Karsten Whitson
10. Oakland Athletics — Michael Choice
11. Toronto Blue Jays — Deck McGuire
12. Cincinnati Reds — Yasmani Grandal
13. Chicago White Sox — Chris Sale
14. Milwaukee Brewers — Dylan Covey
15. Texas Rangers — Jake Skole
16. Chicago Cubs — Hayden Simpson
17. Tampa Bay Rays — Josh Sale
18. Anaheim Angels — Kaleb Cowart
19. Houston Astros — Mike Foltynewicz
20. Boston Red Sox — Kolbrin Vitek
21. Minnesota Twins — Alex Wimmers
22. Texas Rangers — Kellin DeGlan
23. Florida Marlins — Christian Yelich
24. San Francisco Giants — Gary Brown
25. St. Louis Cardinals — Zach Cox
26. Colorado Rockies — Kyle Parker
27. Philadelphia Phillies — Jesse Biddle
28. Los Angeles Dodgers — Zach Lee
29. Anaheim Angels — Cam Bedrosian
30. Anaheim Angels — Chevy Clarke
31. Tampa Bay Rays — Justin O’Conner
32. New York Yankees — Cito Culver
While there were several solid picks, the St. Louis Cardinals might come out of the day as the biggest winners. With the 25th pick, St. Louis nabbed Zach Cox. The Arkansas third baseman was projected much higher in the draft and was linked to the Mets at the 8th pick, but scared many away by his high contract demands. Cox is currently batting .427 for Arkansas, with 64 runs and 48 RBIs. If St. Louis can manage to sign Cox to a reasonable contract, this was a great pick. If not, Cox can return to school and the Cardinals will receive a compensatory pick in next years draft.
While the first overall pick came as no surprise, nothing was set in stone beyond that before Monday night. It will be several years before this draft class can be properly evaluated, but Washington and St. Louis appear to have taken the two best offensive players as of now, while Pittsburgh added an incredibly talented, young pitcher to their organization. If Cox can be signed and reaches the level many believe he can, he’ll make many fans in St. Louis extremely happy. For the second straight year, Washington has added the top prospect in the country, and could become a force in the National League East should these kids reach their incredibly high expectations. Only time will tell how these highly-touted prospects pan out, but as of now, fans of Washington, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis have many reasons to be excited.