NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A few things to know about this year’s Major League Baseball first-year player draft:
WHEN: Starts Thursday at 7 p.m. EDT and continues for 40 rounds over three days, with first two rounds (and new “competitive balance rounds”) from MLB Network Studios in Secaucus, N.J. Rounds 3-10 will be held via conference call with teams Friday, and rounds 11-40 on Saturday.
FIRST PICK: Houston Astros. They have the No. 1 overall pick for second straight year after taking shortstop Carlos Correa from Puerto Rico last year. Only Tampa Bay (2007-08) and Washington (2009-10) have had top selection in consecutive years.
ORDER: Determined by reverse order of finish in overall standings from last season. Also, teams are not allowed to trade picks.
THE LOCALS: The New York Mets have the overall eleventh pick. The Yankees’ first selection comes at No. 26. The Bombers also have picks Nos. 32 and 33.
WHAT’S NEW?: Competitive balance rounds give 10 teams with lowest revenues and 10 teams in smallest markets opportunity to obtain additional picks through lottery, which was held last July. Lottery determined six picks immediately after first round; remaining eligible teams went into another lottery for six picks after second round.
ON THE CLOCK: Teams have 4½ minutes to make picks in first round, 2 minutes during first competitive balance round, and 1 minute for second round, second competitive balance round and rounds 3-10. Rest of draft will have selections without delays.
TOP PROSPECTS: Stanford RHP Mark Appel, Oklahoma RHP Jonathan Gray, San Diego 3B Kris Bryant, Georgia high school OFs Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows, North Carolina 3B Colin Moran, Texas high school RHP Kohl Stewart.
SIGNING DEADLINE: Teams must sign their drafted players, other than college seniors, by 5 p.m. EDT on July 12.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Some of the top players eligible for the draft (with position, school, height, weight and college class):
RHP, Stanford, 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, senior.
Cardinal’s career strikeouts leader is possible No. 1 overall pick for second straight season. Houston passed on hometown kid last year, opting for shortstop Carlos Correa from Puerto Rico and signing him for $4.8 million, smallest amount for No. 1 pick since 2006. Appel was selected by Pittsburgh at No. 8 but didn’t sign and could end up with Astros this time around. Hard-throwing righty with fastball in mid-90s was 10-4 with 2.12 ERA and 130 Ks in 106 1-3 IP this season.
LHP, New Castle H.S. (Ind.), 6-6, 180.
Outstanding pitcher and hitter in high school considered by most scouts to have greater potential on mound at pro level. Has been looked at as speedy, left-handed hitting outfielder by some teams but his low- to mid-90s fastball and solid curveball and changeup could make him the top left-handed pitching prospect in draft. Finished senior season with 0.76 ERA and averaged more than 14 Ks per 7 IP. Committed to University of Texas.
3B, San Diego, 6-5, 215, junior.
College baseball’s premier power hitter could be first position player drafted, and is in conversation to go within first three picks after dominant season at plate. Golden Spikes finalist and Collegiate Baseball national player of year is leading nation with 31 home runs, 66 walks, 80 runs scored and an .820 slugging percentage. Holds Toreros record for career HRs with 54. Could remain at third base in pros because of athleticism and strong arm, but could also end up in right field.
OF, Loganville H.S. (Ga.), 6-1, 180.
Gatorade national player of year is big-time right-handed power hitter with fast wrists. Expected to be first high school player drafted after outstanding season in which he hit .485 with 17 HRs, 45 RBIs and 56 runs scored. Solid center fielder with good speed. Signed letter of intent to play at Georgia, but likely won’t make it beyond top eight picks.
RHP, Oklahoma, 6-4. 239, junior.
Flame-throwing righty in running to go either No. 1 overall to Houston or No. 2 to Chicago. Will be drafted for third time after going to Kansas City in 13th round in 2010 out of high school, and to Yankees in 10th round out of junior college in 2011. Has helped pitched Sooners into super regionals of NCAA tournament, going 10-2 with 1.59 ERA and 138 Ks in 119 IP. Throws fastball in mid- to upper-90s, reaching 100 mph at times with effortless delivery.
C, Kentwood H.S. (Wash.), 6-1, 190.
Considered by most to be the best catcher available — high school or college — in draft, and mainly because of his abilities on defense behind plate. Outstanding arm strength and receiving skills, and his game-calling is mature beyond his years. His bat is also solid with a smooth, left-handed stroke despite being a righty behind the plate.
LHP, Indiana State, 6-5, 235, junior.
Top college lefty in draft could be taken in top 10 after a solid season for Sycamores in which he went 5-4 with 93 Ks and set school single-season mark with 1.47 ERA in 13 starts. Struck out at least eight batters in eight of his starts and allowed just 12 earned runs. Fastball sits in mid-90s with lots of action. Burst onto national scene when he was selected Cape Cod League’s pitcher of year and top prospect last summer.
OF, Grayson H.S. (Ga.), 6-3, 210.
Grew up playing travel ball with fellow Georgia star Clint Frazier, but the two went to different high schools — a few miles apart — in same town of Loganville. Scouts drool over Meadows and Frazier, who are the top two high school position players in the draft. Left-handed hitter has smooth swing and good power, and batted .535 during his senior season.
3B, North Carolina, 6-3, 215, junior.
Nephew of former big league All-Star B.J. Surhoff — the No. 1 overall pick in 1985 by Milwaukee — could be a top-5 pick, with some rumblings that Astros could be considering him. ACC player of year is Golden Spikes Award finalist while leading offense of NCAA tournament’s No. 1 overall seed. Hitting .348 with 13 HRs and 86 RBIs heading into super regionals. Led Cape Cod League with 42 RBIs last season. Projects as power-hitting third baseman in pros.
3B, New Mexico, 6-1, 205, junior.
Mountain West co-player of year for two straight seasons also won conference’s triple crown for second year in a row. One of country’s best all-around hitters with short swing ranks among school’s career leaders in several offensive categories. Finished junior season for Lobos hitting .408 with 18 HRs and 72 RBIs. Though he played home games at high elevation in Albuquerque, scouts project his power to translate to pros.
OF, Mississippi State, 6-1, 215, junior.
Offensive leader of super regional-bound Bulldogs could be first college outfielder drafted after being taken in 31st round by Boston in 2010 out of high school. Began college career playing outfielder, catcher, pitcher and DH, but has developed into prototypical right fielder with strong arm and terrific power. Hitting .352 with 15 HRs and 58 RBIs.
RHP, Nevada, 6-3, 190, junior.
Mountain West co-pitcher of year has outstanding fastball that hits 94-96 mph on a consistent basis and a top-notch breaking pitch. Went 7-3 with 2.77 ERA and 102 Ks in 107 IP for Wolfpack this season, and became potential first-rounder after being selected the top prospect in Alaska League last summer. Was primarily a shortstop in college before being converted to full-time pitcher during sophomore season. Cousin of NFL wide receiver Jordan Shipley.
RHP, St. Pius X H.S. (Texas), 6-3, 190.
Generally considered top high school right-hander, has fastball that sits in low- to mid-90s consistently and outstanding slider among terrific repertoire. Might be labeled a bit raw, but also thought to be perhaps prospect with highest ceiling. A two-sport athlete who was also an outstanding quarterback has committed to play both baseball and football at Texas A&M. Was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 8 years old, but has learned to manage it while not allowing it to get in way of being active — and succeeding at a high level — in sports.
“We don’t know the name of the player or the position or anything like that, but we’re going to have a good choice, and we’re going to get someone we like an awful lot.” — Mets head of amateur scouting Paul DePodesta.
“We’re looking for everything. Really, honestly, we’re looking to take the three best guys that we can get. It doesn’t matter if it’s high school, college, position player or pitcher.” — Yankees head of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer.
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