The first round of the 2010 MLB Draft had everything people love about the NFL and NBA drafts: some can’t misses, quite a few surprises, and just as many late round steals.
By Jake McCormick
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With the inclusion of high schoolers and the potential for more than 1,000 picks and over 50 rounds, MLB drafts are especially tough to predict, especially when most of these players will not see a major league field for two to three years.
However, the 2010 draft definitely contained some interesting picks that will definitely be worth following as these pitchers and hitters develop.
Here’s a short rundown of each team’s pick(s) (* denotes compensation pick):
1. Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper, OF/C, College of Southern Nevada
Let the Scott Boras negotiations begin. Never before have the Washington Nationals been the story of baseball for two straight days, as the baseball world will be watching Stephen Strasburg’s debut tonight with great anticipation.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates: Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS (Texas)
Ultimately, pitching is much harder to find than hitting, and PIttsburgh probably made the right choice by going with the top high school pitcher in the draft.
3. Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado, SS, Brito Private HS (Florida)
No surprise here, as the Orioles were just waiting patiently to see where the Pirates went before acting on the highly touted shortstop. Keep an eye on these three prospects’ development, as they were considered the only can’t-miss players in the draft.
4. Kansas City Royals: Christian Colon, SS, Cal State Fullerton
Like the Atlanta Hawks picking at No. 3 in the 2007 NBA Draft (with Greg Oden and Kevin Durant), the Royals had their pick of a less than standout field. In a bit of a surprise, Kansas City went with a player that was not projected in the top 5, but had a stellar NCAA regional performance.
5. Cleveland Indians: Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Ole Miss
The Indians have been high on Pomeranz all year, sending scouts to most of his games at Ole Miss. They saw enough positives to take one of the few high ceiling south paws in the draft.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Barrett Loux, RHP, Texas A&M
Definitely the first “huh?” pick of the night, but the Diamondbacks were enthralled with his high velocity fastball, quality changeup, and big league command. Loux is polished enough to make his debut in 2011.
7. New York Mets: Matt Harvey, RHP, North Carolina
Harvey threw 157 pitches in an April 23 win against Clemson, including a 96 MPH fastball on pitch No. 157. He was definitely high on the Mets’ list, and compares favorably to the good side of Mike Pelfrey.
8. Houston Astros: Delino DeShields Jr., CF, Woodward Academy, (Georgia)
The Astros were so enamored with DeShields Jr. that they took him about 10 spots too high just to make sure he would be coming to Houston. Time will tell if that was a smart move, considering the Astros also possessed the 19th pick.
9. San Diego Padres: Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS (Florida)
I guess when you play in a pitcher’s park and are winning baseball games with young pitching, go with the status quo. The Padres were smart to overlook offense and take the second best high school hurler in the draft, especially since he gushes about PETCO Park.
10. Oakland Athletics: Michael Choice, OF, Texas-Arlington
No surprise that the A’s opted for some offensive firepower, and Choice could be considered somewhat of a steal at this spot. Getting Choice’s superb power and improved defense in the outfield,this was definitely a win for Billy Beane and Co.
11. Toronto Blue Jays: Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech
Thanks in an increased scouting team, Toronto had their eye on McGuire for the last two years and didn’t hesitate to grab him when opportunity knocked. The Blue Jays could very well have the best young pitching staff in the American League in in a few years, as McGuire is very polished and durable.
12. Cincinnati Reds: Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami
When the Royals chose to go the shortstop route with pick No. 4, Grandal was sure to fall to a team and obtain “steal” status. The Reds have positioned themselves nicely with a bevy of young pitchers, so Grandal became too good to pass up.
13. Chicago White Sox: Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast University
The White Sox wanted to get an impact player, and Sale’s performance against quality competition this season cemented his place as (arguably) the second best lefty available. With any luck, he’ll help South Siders forget the tragic purging of six pitching prospects for Jake Peavy and Juan Pierre.
14. Milwaukee Brewers: Dylan Covey, RHP, Maranatha HS (California)
The Brewers went against their usual path of taking guaranteed hitters and college pitchers by selecting a high schooler that has a similar makeup to Matt Cain or Chad Billingsley. Covey was considered one of the few high school pitchers with little to no holes, and was a very good pick for a team craving power pitching.
15. *Texas Rangers: Jake Skole, OF, Blessed Trinity HS (Georgia)
The Ranger management justified this pick as a BAA (best athlete available) selection, despite Skole missing almost all of his senior season with various foot injuries. Considering Texas’ recent pedigree with minor league success, this pick can’t be scrutinized too heavily even though he wasn’t considered one of the top 50 prospects available.
16. Chicago Cubs: Hayden Simpson, RHP, Southern Arkansas University
This was definitely a surprise pick, especially since Simpson wasn’t expecting to be taken before the second round. Far be it from the Cubs to ignore an upper 90s fastball with a knee buckling curve and quality slider when that player is also being called a Tim Lincecum-Roy Oswalt hybrid by their scouts.
17. Tampa Bay Rays: Josh Sale, OF, Bishop Blanchet HS (Washington)
Totally unfair selection here, as Sale was expected to be off the board before the 17th pick. He’s a can’t-miss power hitter with some defensive deficiencies that limit him to one of the corner outfield spots, but Sale shouldn’t be much of a problem for the Harvard of MLB farm systems.
18. *Los Angeles Angels: Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Cook County HS (Georgia)
The 2010 Gatorade High School Player of the Year has drawn comparisons to a young Chipper Jones. The Angels were devoid of a quality corner infield prospect, and Cowart more than fills that void.
19. *Houston Astros: Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Minooka Community HS (Illinois)
After taking DeShields Jr. at No. 8, it only makes sense that Houston would go with a pitcher at 19. Foltynewicz throws a 96 MPH fastball regularly and compliments it with a very good changeup in a consistent throwing motion. If he refines his curve, Foltynewicz could very well become a top of the rotation starter for the ‘Stros.
20. *Boston Red Sox: Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, Ball State
Vitek will make the switch to third base, and the Red Sox were lucky enough to grab the potential top 15 pick. He can hit and run as well as any infielder in the draft, and will undoubtedly make his debut at Fenway within the next two years.
21. Minnesota Twins: Alex Wimmers, RHP, Ohio State
Other than Bryce Harper to the Nationals, this was the only pick I made with 100% confidence from the first mock up on. Wimmers fits the profile of everything the Twins love about pitchers, and will be throwing strikes in the Majors within the next two or three years.
22. Texas Rangers: Kellin Deglan, C, Langley HS (British Columbia, Canada)
Deglan has a very high ceiling for his left-handed power, rocket arm, and pure athleticism. The Rangers admitted that they have quite a few young catchers, but considered Deglan talented enough to supplant any they currently have as their top catching prospect.
23. Florida Marlins: Christian Yelich, OF, Westlake HS (California)
The Marlins love the BPA philosophy, and despite a lack of promising pitchers in their system, decided Yelich’s left-handed bat was far too good to pass up. Florida did have a need for more young lefty hitters, and Yelich also brings some speed to go with his Mark Grace-like swing.
24. San Francisco Giants: Gary Brown, CF, Cal State Fullerton
The Giants aren’t known for possessing consistent performers at the lead off position, and Brown hopes to fill that void over the long term. He’s a scorcher on the base paths and should do well in the spacious center field at AT&T Park.
25. St. Louis Cardinals: Zack Cox, 3B, Arkansas
EASILY the biggest steal of the draft. The Cardinals sent masher Brett Wallace packing for Matt Holliday last year, and Cox was considered a top 10 selection in most circles for his equally, if not more, impressive bat. It’s truly amazing he fell this far, but St. Louis surely won’t complain.
26. Colorado Rockies: Kyle Parker, OF, Clemson
This was the first of two NCAA Division 1-A quarterbacks to be taken in the first round, which tells you pretty much all you need to know about Parker’s baseball talent. Coincidentally, Colorado seems to have an affinity for taking signal callers (Todd Helton at Tennessee, Seth Smith at Ole Miss).
27. Philadelphia Phillies: Jesse Biddle, LHP, Germantown Friends HS (Pennsylvania)
This 6’5″ Philly kid did so well in a private workout at Citizen’s Bank Park last week that the Philadelphia brass decided he was more than worthy of the 27th overall selection. The Phillies definitely needed a lefty handed pitcher, and they’ve compared Biddle’s makeup and delivery to Clayton Kershaw.
28. Los Angeles Dodgers: Zach Lee, RHP, McKinney HS (Texas)
This could be quite the pickle for the Dodgers, who are supposedly tightening their belts but chose to go with one of the top prep quarterbacks in the country (Lee is committed to LSU in the fall). If they can’t sign Lee, expect some well-deserved criticism for passing up more signable righties.
29. *Los Angeles Angels: Cam Bedrosian, RHP, East Coweta HS (Georgia)
Bedrosian has MLB roots (his father Steve was a reliever from 1981-1995) and has a similar makeup to his dad, with a 96 MPH fastball and sweeping slider. He definitely fills a long term need for the Angels, who would be more than happy to see Cam duplicate his father’s success, which included the 1987 Cy Young award as a closer.
30. Los Angeles Angels: Chevez Clarke, CF, Marietta HS (Georgia)
The Angels deserve credit for addressing their diverse needs in this draft. Clarke caps off their three picks by bringing blazing speed and a high contact rate to Los Angeles. He will need some work, but the upside of this Michael Bourne/Juan Pierre clone is hard to ignore when you’ve already taken two other impact players.
31. Tampa Bay Rays: Justin O’Conner, C, Cowen HS (Indiana)
The Rays were very smart (go figure) to take a catcher of the future with this compensation pick. O’Conner can play shortstop and pitch too, but Tampa is set on building his skills as a catcher. O’Conner will need to harness his raw power and plus arm, but that should be no trouble for the Rays.
32. New York Yankees: Cito Culver, SS, Irondequoit HS (New York)
Culver’s selection is the feel-good story of the first round, as he has endured many hardships to get to this point. The fact that the Yankees were willing to take a local shortstop that could eventually supplant Derek Jeter at the Major League level should indicate the confidence they have in Culver’s chances for success.