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A's go heavy on college picks during Draft

MLB.com

OAKLAND -- The A's took a gamble with their first pick, but otherwise stuck to the theme of drafting college players, with a focus on pitching in the middle rounds of the 2018 MLB Draft.

With the ninth overall pick, Oakland took Kyler Murray, an outfielder out of Oklahoma, who is also expected to compete for the starting quarterback position on the school's football team this fall. Murray is one of the best athletes in the Draft class, though the concern is how much of a toll playing football may take on his body. The A's, however, are comfortable with him playing at Oklahoma next season.

OAKLAND -- The A's took a gamble with their first pick, but otherwise stuck to the theme of drafting college players, with a focus on pitching in the middle rounds of the 2018 MLB Draft.

With the ninth overall pick, Oakland took Kyler Murray, an outfielder out of Oklahoma, who is also expected to compete for the starting quarterback position on the school's football team this fall. Murray is one of the best athletes in the Draft class, though the concern is how much of a toll playing football may take on his body. The A's, however, are comfortable with him playing at Oklahoma next season.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

The A's rounded out Day 1 by taking two more position players: Jameson Hannah, a center fielder from Dallas Baptist in the second round with the 50th pick, and shortstop Jeremy Eierman out of Missouri State at No. 70 overall.

A's scouting director Eric Kubota said after the first day that he always aims to take the best available player, and was pleased that Hannah and Eierman fell to the A's. Hannah was ranked 32nd and Eierman 29th in the Draft class by MLB.com.

"The baseball Draft is a funny thing," Kubota said. "It's hard to know what's going on in every team's room. There's just so many factors involved. We were certainly pleased to be able to pick those guys where we got them."

Nineteen of the A's 41 picks were pitchers, as the organization stocked up on arms for its farm system. Only five selections were high school players, and excluding four players who went to junior college, all the college picks have spent four years in school.

Alfonso Rivas, the team's fourth-round selection and a first baseman out of Arizona, was one of them.

"He's very much in line with the A's drafting philosophy," Arizona head coach Jay Johnson said. "This isn't a project. This is a guy who has performed his whole life."

Kubota said the lack of high school draftees was not intentional.

Video: Draft Report: Alfonso Rivas, College 1B/outfielder

"It's just how the board lines up," he said. "At certain times, we may value the safety of college picks."

Lawrence Butler, an outfielder out of Westlake High School in Georgia, was the A's sixth-round pick, and their lone high school selection until the 35th round. Butler is raw, but has a lot of power and room to grow. Kubota noted the A's had a "gut feeling" about him.

Four of the A's first five selections were position players, with the lone pitcher being Hogan Harris, a left-handed pitcher out of the University of Louisiana-Lafeyette, who was the A's third-round pick.

Video: Draft 2018: Athletics draft LHP Hogan Harris No. 85

The A's also stockpiled athletic players throughout the Draft, from Murray on down. It was not necessarily a target going in, according to Kubota.

There was also a feel-good moment toward the end of the Draft, when the A's selected Austin Piscotty, the brother of right fielder Stephen Piscotty, in the 38th round. Kubota said he hoped it would bring a "little ray of sunshine" to the family; Gretchen Piscotty, the mother of Austin and Stephen, passed away in May after a year-long battle with ALS.

Kubota said he hadn't digested the Draft yet, but was satisfied with the results.

"At the end of three days, we're always happy," Kubota said. "We feel like there's some strength and depth throughout the Draft."

Eric He is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

Oakland Athletics