OAKLAND -- The A's are traditionally seen as favoring collegians rather than comparatively rawer high school athletes in the First-Year Player Draft but bucked that trend on Monday, taking high school players with their first three picks for the first time since 1978.
On Tuesday's second day of the Draft, Oakland went back to the college route for its two picks in the second round. A's scouting director Eric Kubota again emphasized that this was simply a result of the way their board fell and wasn't an indication of any sort of change in strategy.
With the 62nd overall pick -- the second compensation selection for losing free agent Josh Willingham to Minnesota -- the A's took catcher Bruce Maxwell from Division III Birmingham-Southern College. They then picked their first pitcher of the day with the 74th overall selection, tabbing University of Arkansas right-hander Nolan Sanburn.
Despite coming from a small school, Maxwell has quite the pedigree. A rarity as a left-handed-hitting catcher, the Toney, Ala., native was named National Player of the Year by both the American Baseball Coaches Association and D3baseball.com.
Maxwell finished the season with astronomical numbers. He hit .471, slugged .928 and had an on-base percentage of .619, to go along with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs. He also showed solid plate discipline, drawing 59 walks and striking out just 11 times. There are questions about whether the 235-pounder might have to change positions in the future, but Kubota said that he thinks Maxwell can stay behind the plate.
"We thought he was one of the premier hitters in the country, in the Draft," Kubota said. "We recognize that he played at a lower division, at Division III, but his numbers were unbelievable, Nintendo-like in many ways. What we saw with our eyes kind of matched up with how those numbers were."
Finally turning to the mound with the selection of Sanburn, Oakland may have gotten a steal with the hard-throwing relief pitcher. The Draft-eligible sophomore was rated as MLB.com's 44th-best Draft prospect.
Sanburn pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen for the Razorbacks, and was projected by most to remain a relief pitcher in professional ball due to his explosive two-pitch combination. His fastball sits around 95 mph and can touch the upper 90s, which he complements with a "hard, slurvy curve that has some serious bite when he stays on top of it," according to his MLB.com scouting report. That report mentions Sanburn is a possible future closer in the big leagues as well.
But Kubota insisted that Sanburn will be groomed as a starter, at least at first.
"We actually have seen him start two or three times this year," Kubota said. "We think he has a starter's mix. He obviously is up to 97-98 [mph] with an above-average curveball, and we like his changeup as well, so I think we're going to give him a chance to start."
Oakland switched back to high school players for its third- and fourth-round selections, taking a pair of Californians. Left-handed pitcher Kyle Twomey, out of El Dorado High School in Placentia, reportedly needs to work on his secondary offerings but has a 90-91 mph fastball that should get even faster when his 6-foot-3, 165-pound frame fills out, according to his MLB.com scouting report.
Outfielder B.J. Boyd, meanwhile, is an extremely athletic prospect who also starred as a running back and wide receiver for Palo Alto High School's football team. Kubota expects the A's to sign both.
"We really liked all the guys we got today," Kubota said. "We're just excited to see what happens, and we'll see what happens when we get them out there to play."
Round 2 (62nd overall): C Bruce Maxwell, Birmingham-Southern College, 6-2, 235
Maxwell was named the ABCA/Rawlings National Player of the Year for 2012. He led the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference with a .471 batting average, a .928 slugging percentage and a .619 on-base percentage. He was also named National Player of the Year and a First Team All-American by D3baseball.com.
Round 2 (74th overall): RHP Nolan Sanburn, University of Arkansas, 6-0, 190
A Draft-eligible sophomore, Sanburn went 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 14 games -- two of them starts -- this season, striking out 30 in 25 2/3 innings. He was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball in 2011.
Round 3 (106th overall): LHP Kyle Twomey, El Dorado High School, 6-3, 165
Twomey struck out 77 in 73 2/3 innings for the Hawks. Over 11 starts and 12 games, the leftyfrom Placentia, Calif., amassed an 8-3 record with a 0.76 ERA.
Round 4 (139th overall): OF B.J. Boyd, Palo Alto High School, 5-10, 215
Starred on the football field as well, playing running back and wide receiver. Hit .507 with 25 stolen bases in 28 games and had an on-base percentage of .628.
Round 5 (169th overall): 1B Max Muncy, Baylor University, 5-11, 210
Drafted in 2011 in the 41st round by Cleveland but elected to return to school. Was named All-Big 12 and is hitting .313 with seven home runs and 54 RBIs for the Bears.
Round 6 (199th overall): RHP Seth Streich, Ohio University, 6-3, 200
Also plays infield for the Bobcats. Went 4-7 with a 4.42 ERA in 13 games, 12 of them starts, striking out 62 in 75 1/3 innings. He's from Ridgeway, Pa.
Round 7 (229th overall): RHP Cody Kurz, Oxnard (Calif.) College, 6-4, 225
Went 0-1 with a 1.46 ERA in 21 relief appearances this season for Oxnard, a community college. In 24 2/3 innings, he struck out 21 and walked 11.
Round 8 (259th overall): RHP Kris Hall, Lee University, 6-3, 210
Named an NAIA All-American after going 12-0 with a 1.71 ERA as the ace for the Flames. Struck out 122 batters in 100 innings. Transferred from Cleveland State University.
Round 9 (289th overall): RHP Dakota Bacus, Indiana State, 6-2, 190
Transferred to Indiana State from Southeastern Community College. Went 7-4 with a 2.70 ERA this season. Native of Moline, Ill.
Round 10 (319th overall): CF Brett Vertigan, California-Santa Barbara, 5-9, 175
Named All-Big West with a .381 batting average, nine triples and 17 stolen bases. From Orange County, Calif.
Round 11 (349th overall): SS Alex Gonzalez, Harrison High School, Ga., 5-11, 185
From Acworth, Ga., and committed to Georgia Tech. Also pitched and owns his school's career record for both doubles (34) and saves (10). Named a Rawlings third-team All-American.
Round 12 (379th overall): 3B John Caputo, no school, 6-3, 210
Graduated from the University of British Columbia and played for the Toronto Mets in Canada. Originally from Ontario.
Round 13 (409th overall): RHP Stuart Pudenz, Dallas Baptist University, 6-5, 215
Native of Blue Springs, Mo. Went 5-1 with a 1.58 ERA and eight saves for the Patriots. Struck out 50 in 40 innings.
Round 14 (439th overall): RHP Austin House, University of New Mexico, 6-4, 210
Attended La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, N.M. Went 8-5 with a 2.74 ERA in 16 starts this year for the Lobos. Struck out 91 in 111 1/3 innings.
Round 15 (469th overall): RHP Vincent Voiro, University of Pennsylvania, 6-3, 195
Drafted by the Padres in the 47th round last year but elected to return to school. Went 5-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 10 appearances, nine starts, for the Quakers. Native of Cherry Hill, N.J.