|Draft draws a crowd - for the first round, at least|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 07 June 2007 16:01|
By the time the second round was over Thursday, the fan count was down to four. Still, commissioner Bud Selig was satisfied with the overall turnout, and didn't rule out a return to the venue.
``That's up to our people,'' Selig said. ``This is fine. It's a wonderful venue. No complaints.''
Lacking the hype and recognizable names of the NFL and NBA drafts, baseball finally joined its counterparts on ESPN2. The draft also had an actual place for diehard fans to root - or boo - their team's selections.
The event had been done exclusively by conference call in previous years, while fans had to check Web sites or wait until results were printed in newspapers to find out if local high school or college stars were selected.
``They should have done this a long time ago,'' said former big league outfielder Darryl Strawberry, who was the No. 1 pick by the New York Mets in 1980.
Strawberry was one of several familiar faces at the draft, joining former baseball stars such as Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Andre Dawson, Dwight Evans, Tom Lasorda, Frank Howard and Don Zimmer.
While the other major sports usually have their potential top picks at the draft site, only three were in attendance Thursday: California high school infielder Josh Vitters, Missouri State left-hander Ross Detwiler and Canadian pitcher Phillippe Aumont.
``I hope we have more kids,'' Selig said. ``The only thing you don't want to have is a Brady Quinn-type situation. The poor kid is sitting there. We were lucky today. We didn't have that here.''
Selig was referring to the former Notre Dame quarterback who was once considered a possibility for the first pick in the NFL draft in April before falling to Cleveland at No. 22. Vitters went third to the Chicago Cubs, Detwiler three picks later to Washington and Aumont at No. 11 to Seattle.
``I think this will get bigger and bigger,'' Selig said. ``I feel very good about it. I really do.''
DYNAMIC DUOS: Mike Moustakas and Matt Dominguez anchored the left side of the infield for California's Chatsworth High School and made a little history in the process.
The pair became the highest-drafted set of high school teammates ever chosen in the same year. Moustakas, a shortstop, went second overall to Kansas City, while Dominguez, a third baseman, went 10 picks later to Florida.
Only three other pairs of high school teammates have been chosen in the draft's opening round: Mike Ondina (No. 12, Chicago White Sox) and Jerry Manuel (No. 20, Detroit) of California's Rancho Cordova High School in 1972; Michael Cuddyer (No. 9, Minnesota) and John Curtice (No. 17, Boston) of Virginia's Great Bridge H.S. in 1997; and Billy Butler (No. 14, Kansas City) and Eric Hurley (No. 30, Texas) of Florida's Wolfson Senior H.S. in 2004.
The feat is much more common in the college ranks, but it isn't often that college teammates are selected within the first 10 picks. Vanderbilt's David Price (No. 1, Tampa Bay) and Casey Weathers (No. 8, Colorado) became the sixth teammates to do it, and first since Rice's Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend did it three years ago.
CANADIAN PRIDE: Phillippe Aumont stepped on the stage, slipped on his Seattle Mariners cap and became the third-highest Canadian ever drafted.
The 6-foot-7 righty from Gatineau, Quebec, went 11th overall Thursday. Only Adam Loewen, taken fourth by Baltimore in 2002, and Jeff Francis, who went ninth to Colorado that same year, went before him.
``I was pretty surprised and excited at the same time,'' Aumont said during a conference call. ``I was thinking about the team I would go to and it's an honor for me to be with the Seattle Mariners.''
SAME ROUTINE: The Oakland Athletics stocked up on, you guessed it, college players.
General manager Billy Beane has mostly stayed away from high school players in the draft, opting for more seasoned players from college in recent years. It was more of the same this year, as the A's took college players with all eight of their selections during the draft's first day.
Oakland took UC Riverside right-hander James Simmons with its first-round selection (26th overall), and followed that up by picking Virginia first baseman Sean Doolittle (41st), Oklahoma State outfielder Corey Brown (59th), Cal Poly outfielder Grant Desme (74th), North Carolina shortstop Josh Horton (90th overall), Texas Christian right-hander Sam Demel (120th), Wichita State righty Travis Banwart (150th) and North Carolina right-hander Andrew Carignan (180th).
AROUND THE HORN: When David Price was taken by Tampa Bay with the top pick, he became just the second college left-hander to be selected No. 1 overall, joining Floyd Bannister (1976). ... Price was one of seven left-handers taken in the first round, tying the record set in 2004. ... Boston raised some eyebrows when it selected California high school infielder Ryan Dent with the 62nd pick. Don't worry, Red Sox fans. He's not related to that other Dent who broke your hearts. That, of course, was Bucky Dent, the New York Yankees shortstop who homered over the Green Monster to beat Boston in a one-game playoff that decided the 1978 AL East title. ... Seventeen high school players were selected in the first round, the most since 2000, when 18 were taken.
Freelance writer Mark Didtler in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., contributed to this report.