MLB draft concludes its second day
NEW YORK — One day after the first three rounds of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft were held in grand fashion at Studio 42 of MLB Network’s studios, the action shifted to a smaller, more intimate venue at the New York offices of the Commissioner, where all 30 clubs “cyber gathered” in the Selig Conference Room to continue Rounds 4-30 of the Draft, on Wednesday.
While it may not have had the same pomp and circumstance, Day 2 featured more than a few familiar names, be they Major League legacies like Ruben Sierra Jr., newsmakers like Florida high school hurler Patrick Schuster, or top prospects like California high school catcher Max Stassi who were expected to go on Day 1.
Perhaps the most recognizable name of the day was that of Schuster, the 18-year-old left-hander taken by Arizona in the 13th round. Pitching for J.W. Mitchell High School in Clearwater, Florida, Schuster earned national attention beyond that usually afforded to a high school prospect when he threw four straight no-hitters in April.
The day kicked off with the Nationals’ pick of Kansas State right-hander A.J. Morris, who, though far less ballyhooed than the Nats’ first pick, Stephen Strasburg, was not far off in terms of stats this year. The 112th overall selection finished among the nation’s leaders in wins (14) and ERA (2.09).
Also in the fourth round, the Royals selected Clemson southpaw ace Chris Dwyer, and in doing so made a bit of Draft history. Dwyer, though a freshman for the Tigers, is 21 years old and was therefore eligible for the Draft, making him the first Draft-eligible freshman from a four-year college. Dwyer is known for his raw stuff that includes a mid-90s fastball and plus curveball.
With the next pick, Oakland took Stassi, a Sacramento-area high school catcher and brother of Nevada pitcher-outfielder XXXXXXX, who was widely considered to have first-round talent.
There are many stories, looking back, about first-round talents who fell to later rounds because of issues other than their pure talent, like that of Rockies rookie center fielder Dexter Fowler. Fowler had a baseball scholarship to the University of Miami and was being heavily recruited by several Ivy League schools for his basketball prowess. Because of that, he fell to the Rockies in the 14th round of the 2004 Draft.
Some day when they talk about the 2009 Draft, Stassi could be among those examples.
The Yuba City (Calif.) High School catcher was the lone remaining projected first-round pick on the board when the second day of the Draft began.
The key issue at stake: Signability.
Like Fowler, Stassi’s commitment to a college program (UCLA), and his avowed excitement about going there, forced him to wait.
A kid who grew up not just with the proverbial “baseball in the blood,” but catching in the genes, Stassi is the son of Jim Stassi, a longtime Minor League catcher in the Giants system and a high school coach in the Sacramento area for the past 23 years — 18 of them at Yuba City, and four of them with his son behind the plate.
Stassi’s grandfather and great-grandfather also caught in the Minors, while his uncle, Myril Hoag, played in the Majors for 13 seasons, including as a teammate of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig with the Yankees.
Later in the fourth round, another highly regarded high school catcher went off the board, as Tampa Bay took Luke Bailey from Troup (Ga.) High School. Bailey had been considered a potential first-rounder before he underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in mid-May. The Rays will hope to sign him and oversee his rehab.
Several other highly regarded players lasted longer than expected, among them:
Loyola Marymount outfielder Angelo Songco (Dodgers), one of the hottest hitters late in the college season; right-hander Andrew Doyle (Texas), an Oklahoma product with three good pitches; Florida prep high school right-hander Keyvius Sampson (San Diego), an athletic Florida State recruit; and Arizona closer Jason Stoffel (San Francisco), whose fastball and slider put him on a par with several comparable 2008 first-round college closers; all of whom who went in the fourth round.
University of Miami shortstop Ryan Jackson, a defensive player-extraordinaire, went in the fifth round to St. Louis, while two-way Texas A&M star Brooks Raley was selected by the Cubs as a pitcher in the sixth. The seventh round saw Louisiana high school right-hander Brody Colvin, a 6-foot-4 hurler with a fastball in the low 90s and a hard curve, go to the Phillies.
In the eighth round, Long Beach high school power prospect Jonathan Singleton went to Philadelphia, while promising Monmouth College right-hander Ryan Buch went to the Cubs.
Baylor starter and Team USA closer Kendal Volz lasted until the ninth round after an up-and-down 2009 season, but his high 90s heat had teams interested, and Boston bit.
South Carolina right-hander Sam Dyson, a Draft-eligible sophomore with electric stuff, went to Oakland in the 10th round. And Pittsburgh used its 12th-round pick on Stanford right-hander Jeff Inman, a starter who was slowed by a sore shoulder but has considerable upside.
In the 14th round, the Phillies picked Colorado high school outfield star Jake Stewart, an outstanding two-sport athlete who is expected to forego football to focus on baseball. The Pirates went with Florida outfielder Matt den Dekker in the 16th round, getting a left-handed bat with raw power, while the Phillies used that round to take the most highly regarded remaining high school catching prospect, Sacramento-area power hitter Andrew Susac.
And the 20th round wrapped up with the Rays’ selection of California high school right-hander Dylan Florio, a prospect who had been expected to go on the first night of action.
Legacies abounded on the second day of action as well.
In the sixth round, three big league sons were taken. Sierra Jr., a high school outfielder from Puerto Rico, whose dad was a four-time All-Star and 20-year big league veteran, went to the Rangers, the team with whom his dad spent half of his career. Shortstop Daniel Fields, whose dad Bruce played for the Tigers, grew up in Detroit, attends high school there and went to his hometown team. And outfielder Kristopher Hobson, a California high school prospect, went to Toronto. His dad Butch both played for and later managed the Red Sox.
Later, just before the day’s end, the Arizona Diamondbacks drafted local boy Jake Williams, the son of former All-Star and current D-backs front office executive Matt Williams. Williams, a first baseman at Brophy Jesuit High School in Scottsdale, was taken in the 29th round.
Another intriguing 29th-round pick was San Diego’s selection of speedy Stanford junior center fielder Babawande Olabisi. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olabisi is a member of the royal family of that country’s Urhobo tribe, spent some of his formative years in Saudi Arabia and played for the Saudi team in the 2000 Little League World Series. Olabisi is a biomechanical engineering major at Stanford.
From the odd bits and pieces department: If he were to sign and make it to the Majors, Red Sox fifth-round pick Seth Schwindenhammer would supplant current Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia as owner of the longest last name in big league history, by a count of 15 to 14. Fortunately for the folks who handle the uniforms in Boston, the Sox don’t put their players’ names on their jerseys when they’re at home at least.
You can continue to follow every pick of the Draft at MLB.com which has live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft on MLB.com/Live. The final 20 rounds will begin on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET.