More excitement to come at Draft
A lot of talent remains on the board as teams look to load up
Hundreds of talent evaluators for Major League clubs have been gathering at amateur games and crisscrossing the country for months. They haven't been doing it just for a first-round pick, or just for one day's worth of picks.
The First-Year Player Draft is much deeper than that. More than 90 percent of the picks are yet to be made, and a lot more future Major League talent is to be found.Maybe there's an Ian Kinsler down a few rungs on somebody's Draft board, a 17th-rounder a few short years removed from stardom in the Majors like the Rangers' second baseman. Or perhaps a potential ace like Tommy Hanson, picked by the Braves in the 22nd round in 2005, is still out there. A starting outfielder like Nyjer Morgan could be available -- he wasn't drafted by the Pirates until the 33rd round in 2002. Morgan tells a familiar story. "I've been an underdog everywhere I've been," Morgan said. "I've never been highly touted. I've never had the exposure that most people get. I just always believed in my abilities, and I knew I could play. I just really wanted somebody to give me an opportunity to show my skills. "The Pirates gave me that opportunity in the Draft of 2002." Opportunities like that are out there the next two days, by the dozen. The bulk of the Draft is still to come, and following Tuesday's historic first night start, there will be a Day 2 and, for the first time, a Day 3. And every bit of it will be available on MLB.com -- exclusively on MLB.com. After 111 picks on Day 1 -- including Round One, Compensation Round A, Round Two, Round Three and Compensation Round B -- the Draft will resume with exclusive coverage on MLB.com with the Fourth Round at noon ET on Wednesday and will be tentatively scheduled to go through the 30th round. The Draft will conclude on Thursday with the 31st through 50th rounds, beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET.
MLB.com's coverage will include a live pick-by-pick audio stream, expert commentary and the exclusive Draft Tracker -- a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player, featuring statistics, scouting reports and video highlights.
Fans will not only be able to follow along every minute of the way online, but they'll be able to interact directly with Draft-eligible players and MLB.com Draft experts, among others.
The Draft Tracker will also feature the addition of Twitter, and the participation of "tweeters" such as MLB.com Draft expert @JonathanMayoB3, who will also be serving as on-air talent for all three days of the Draft; and reporter @LisaWinstonMLB, who will be writing the up-to-the-minute coverage for MLB.com.
In addition, MLB.com has created a Twitter account devoted to the Draft, where you can stay updated on every piece of info as it becomes available (@MLBDraft).
Following the Draft in its entirety on MLB.com has become a tradition. In fact, Giants closer Brian Wilson got the news that way in 2003 -- well, indirectly."My mom was listening to it on the computer," Wilson said. "She got excited, naturally, when she heard my name." After all, Mom does know best. When Pirates pitcher Ian Snell's mother saw "26th round" next to her son's name, she saw opportunity. She had some words of wisdom that have endured throughout his Major League career. "If you get drafted in a late round, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're not better than someone who got drafted in the first round," Snell said. "When I got drafted in the 26th round, my mom said just go out there and do your best and show them that you could have been a first-round pick. That's what I do." Everyone drafted on Day 1 on Tuesday is special, there is no question. But someone special could be drafted on Day 2. And Day 3. In fact, of the 661 players on Major League rosters or on the disabled list as of Opening Day 2009, more than half of them -- 336 -- were selected after the 111th pick and would not have been drafted yet. Clearly, a lot of Major League talent remains on the board for Day 2 and Day 3. This one-of-a-kind event is deep. It tells a story. It answers questions. Is your team building up college players who might get to the big leagues faster, or more of a mix with prep stars? Is your team going heavy on pitching or position players? Is power or speed more important or all of the above? By the time Day 3 comes along, the talent might not be as evident as in the first few rounds. But it's there. It's always there. You might see an Orlando Hudson (43rd, 1997), or a Raul Ibanez (36th, 1992), or perhaps a Mark Buehrle (38th, 1998). Hanson, who made a much ballyhooed debut last weekend, said he was "definitely disappointed" to be passed over until the second day in 2005. But it wasn't long before he and the Braves both knew you could become a top prospect from the 22nd round. In fact, Hanson said he was that much more motivated to reach the big leagues. "I think to an extent I was," Hanson said. "I think everybody wants to go higher. But I was really just determined to let things work themselves out." Wilson tells a similar story.
"It just tells you that you have another step to prove yourself," said Wilson. "You go to college, nothing's set in stone. You're not a starter; you don't get money. So you go to the Minor Leagues with a lot to lose. That's why a lot of guys who get drafted the second day do make it because they have a lot to lose."
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, The Grind. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.