Baseball: Strasburg, UNC duo to go early
By Mike Fitzpatrick
NEW YORK ó With his 100 mph fastball, Stephen Strasburg has all but eliminated any mystery about which player will be picked first by the Washington Nationals in today’s draft.
Barring a big surprise, the suspense begins at No. 2.
“Oh, it’s a terrific drop-off,” Los Angeles Angels scouting director Eddie Bane said. “You don’t want to admit that, but this guy, like everybody said, is a once-in-a-lifetime guy.”
While Strasburg was striking out overmatched hitters at San Diego State, major league teams spent the spring sorting through the best of the rest, including North Carolina slugger Dustin Ackley, UNC pitcher Alex White, Missouri right-hander Kyle Gibson and high school outfielder Donavan Tate (who has committed to play both baseball and football at UNC).
Jacob Turner, a prep pitcher from Missouri, has also committed to North Carolina. He’s a Scott Boras client and could have signability issues.
With commissioner Bud Selig announcing picks from the podium, the first round will be broadcast live by MLB Network from its New Jersey studios beginning at 6 p.m.
New general manager Jack Zduriencik and the Seattle Mariners pick second, followed by San Diego, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
The Nationals are the first team to own a pair of picks in the top 10. They get the 10th choice as compensation for failing to sign their selection at No. 9 last year, Missouri pitcher Aaron Crow.
After pitching for the Fort Worth Cats in an independent minor league, Crow is back in the draft pool and could be a high pick again.
Right-hander Tanner Scheppers went a similar independent route. He was drafted 48th overall by Pittsburgh last year after a shoulder injury sidelined him at Fresno State, but the Pirates didn’t sign him.
In addition to the Nationals and Angels (Nos. 24 and 25), three other teams have multiple first-round picks: Seattle (2 and 27), Colorado (11 and 32) and Arizona (16 and 17).
The first night of the draft will consist of 111 picks, completing the first three rounds and compensation slots. There will be four minutes between first-round selections, then one minute after that.
Rounds 4-50 will be held by conference call over the following two days.