MLB goes to college early, often in first round
As Rob Manfred began calling names Monday in his first MLB Draft as Commissioner, a trend quickly emerged. Clubs went to college to find polished players in the early stages of the first round.
The Draft began with Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson being taken with the first overall pick by the D-backs, and fellow Southeastern Conference shortstop Alex Bregman from Louisiana State came off the board one pick later. Right-hander Dillon Tate made it three out of the first four when he was taken by the Rangers two picks later before four straight collegiate players were taken with picks Nos. 6-9.
In all, seven of the top 10 selections on Monday night came from the collegiate ranks, marking the most collegiate selections within the top 10 since 2008, when only two high schoolers were taken within the first 10 picks. Interestingly, one of those two high school picks was top overall selection Tim Beckham, who went to the same Griffin High School as Cornelius Randolph, one of the three high schoolers to go in this year's first 10 picks.
Vanderbilt had three first-round selections, including the top overall pick, on the same night that it was securing its spot in the College World Series with a victory over Illinois.
"We're going to have some broad-ranging conversations with the NCAA," Manfred said. "I think the initial topic that's on our mind is trying to get the calendar ordered in a way that some of our events, particularly the Draft and the College World Series, can maybe be sequenced a little better to be better for both of us.
"We'd also like to have some conversations about topics that have been long-standing, like summer play, wood bat leagues -- things that are of interest to all of us."
Monday's first round was also a bit different than those in recent history in the fact that position players accounted for 11 of the 19 college players taken in the first round. That number again was the most since 2008, when a whopping 14 collegiate position players heard their names called in the opening round, including six -- Pedro Alvarez, Eric Hosmer, Buster Posey, Yonder Alonso, Gordon Beckham and Jason Castro -- all within the top 10.
This year's class was led by the plethora of shortstops, with that position making up five of those 11 selections. Along with Swanson and Bregman, the other collegiate shortstops selected were Kevin Newman (19th overall, Pirates), Richie Martin (20th, A's) and Kyle Holder (30th, Yankees). Along with the handful of shortstops, the list of first-round collegiate position players was rounded out by one catcher (Taylor Ward), one first baseman (Chris Shaw) and four outfielders (Andrew Benintendi, Ian Happ, D.J. Stewart and Christin Stewart).
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m .ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,700 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.