(9:54 PM EST): Okay, so we've seen a good deal of picks since I last checked in roughly 90 minutes ago. Texas right-hander Taylor Jungmann goes to Milwaukee along with Georgia Tech lefty Jed Bradley- those two were picked No. 12 and No. 15 respectively. The Mets made a surprising move by snagging Wyoming prep outfielder Brandon Nimmo at No. 13, but the Marlins didn't surprise many by selecting a relatively signable but solid high school pitcher in Jose Fernandez at No. 14.
Then came a run of college players: Stanford lefty Chris Reed to LA at 16, Utah first baseman C.J. Cron to the Angels at 17, Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray to Oakland at 18, UConn ace Matt Barnes to Boston at 19 and Oregon lefty Tyler Anderson to Colorado at 20. Some (Gray, Barnes) made more sense than others (Reed, Anderson), but none of those guys doesn't have the potential to be a contributor at the MLB level.
The Blue Jays made a nice but potentially expensive move by drafting Massachusetts prep pitcher Tyler Beede at 21, followed by the Cardinals snagged Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong at 22 and the Nationals landing big Kentucky ace Alex Meyer at 23. You have to love the Nats getting both Rendon and Meyer in the first round- they're really building up a stock of potentially elite talent. The Rays were the benefactors of South Carolina prep right-hander Taylor Guerrieri's fall, as they popped him at 24, and the Padres made a nice move by taking arguably the next-best high school pitcher in California righty Joe Ross, brother of Oakland's Tyson Ross.
Then came another quality Red Sox pick at 26, as they landed the expensive but high-upside Blake Swihart, a prep catcher out of New Mexico, followed by a solid move from Cincinnati in taking California prep starter Robert Stephenson at 27, and the Braves took a reasonable sign in Florida State pitcher Sean Gilmartin at 28, who still provides some potential. At 29, the Giants just took St. John's shortstop Joe Panek, which is probably a reach at that spot, but the club is clearly trying to bolster their middle infield depth for the future. The Twins followed up that selection by taking a guy that was supposed to get taken ahead of Panek in UNC shortstop Levi Michael, a switch-hitter who's expected to stick at the position. It's a solid value pick at the spot, particularly given the organizational need for a quick-rising middle infielder.
(8:05 PM EST): So the Astros have popped Univeristy of Connecticut center fielder George Springer with the 11th overall pick, continuing their run of focusing on quality athletes. Springer is a legitimate five-tool player with serious upside, but there are questions abound given some mechanical issues in his swing, and it remains to be seen whether he'll have issues hitting for contact against better pitching. It's not a bad pick at No. 11 though given the outfielder's tools, and the Astros could be building quite the lineup. The Brewers are on the board at No. 12 right now, but I'll check in a few minutes from now to cover the most recent few picks. As expected, we've seen a ton of surprises so far, so you have to admit that this has been a pretty fun draft night already.
(8:01 PM EST): San Diego's gone with third baseman Cory Spangenberg out of Indian River State College at No. 10 in the draft. He's not one of the top-10 prospects in the draft, but he has two premium tools in his bat and has speed, which may enable him to develop into a quality defensive center fielder should he move to that position. Right now, most of his value lies in the projection as a quality top-of-the-order hitter, but he may be able to provide defensive value as well thanks to his speed even though he's struggled to adapt to defending infield positions. The Astros are on the clock right now.
(7:56 PM EST): All of my top guys are off the board at this point, but some exceptional prospects are still left to be had here in the first round. The Cubs' pick at No. 9 is in right now, and they've selected Florida prep shortstop Javier Baez. He's got easily the best bat speed in the draft, which has cooled concerns that he's not a legitimate top prospect because he's not likely to stick at shortstop. He's expected to hit for power in the future, so he's the kind of prospect that projects as an impact hitter even though he's likely to be a third baseman rather than a shortstop by the time he reaches the majors. The Padres are on the clock at 10 now with their compensation pick for failing to sign 2010 first-rounder Karsten Whitson, and should be looking at many of the same college pitchers that we've talked about before, along with third baseman Cory Spangenberg.
(7:50 PM EST): The Indians' clock has ran out, and they've used the eighth overall pick on Florida prep shortstop Francisco Lindor. I really love this pick for Cleveland, as it gives them an elite up-the-middle prospect that's sure to stick at the position and has some potential with the bat to boot. Shortstop prospects are one of the weaker spots in Cleveland's strong system, and even though Asdrubal Cabrera is doing alright there right now it's good to fill one of the weaker spots in the system without having to take a player too early in the draft. The Cubs are on the clock now at No. 8, and my top eight guys have all been taken, so they'll be looking at the likes of Taylor Jungmann, Javier Baez, Jed Bradley, George Springer, Matt Barnes and Sonny Gray with the No. 9 pick.
(7:44 PM EST): And it appears that the Diamondbacks feel pretty good about their ability to sign the No. 7 overall pick, because they've used it on Oklahoma prep right-hander Archie Bradley. Bradley has top-notch stuff and projects as a top-of-the-rotation starter in a few seasons. Clearly the Diamondbacks have decided to focus on pitching early, and it's tough to disagree with either of the picks they've made so far. Bauer and Bradley give them two premium pitching prospects to join a system that already boasts Jarrod Parker, Tyler Skaggs and Dan Hudson, so expect Arizona's pitching staff to improve a good deal over the next few years.
(7:39 PM EST): The Nationals pick is up, and they've selected Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, ending the questions about whether Rendon would be the big name falling in this draft. He's still going later than expected, but at 6 he gives the Nationals another premium talent to join Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper at the forefront of that organization. Rendon and Zimmerman may play the same position, but this is just another example of the reality that you simply have to take the best player available in the MLB draft. The Diamondbacks are on the clock once again at No. 7 with a compensation pick for failing to sign 2010 first-round pick Barret Loux, but expect them to keep signability in mind with this pick considering that it isn't protected- if they fail to sign whoever they draft, they won't receive a compensation pick again next year. Options may include the college pitchers and Florida prep shortstop Francisco Lindor, so we'll see when the D-Backs pick again in a minute or so.
(7:32 PM EST): Rendon dropping is really the big story right now. He might go at 6 to Washington, but you have to wonder what could happen to the third baseman, who was once regarded as a clear top-2 talent. The Royals have made their pick at No. 5 though, and it's a doozy- Kansas prep outfielder Bubba Starling is not staying in Kansas; rather, he's going to Missouri as the Royals tabbed him with the fifth overall selection. Starling has monster tools and projects as an impact defender and hitter, although he may take a few years to finally reach the majors. This is a great pick, though. The Nationals are on the clock at No. 6 right now. I had Starling going to them at No. 6, but now you have to wonder if they take Rendon. Nboody was expecting him to be here, so somebody is going to come away with a pleasant surprise. The Cubs, maybe?
(7:28 PM EST): Jonathan Mayo mentioned that Rendon's medicals may be a factor right now- you have to wonder how far he drops at this point. Either way, you have to imagine that he goes soon, just based on the kind of player that he projects to be both with the bat and with the glove. The Orioles' pick just came in- Oklahoma right-hander Dylan Bundy at No. 4. Bundy is a very polished pitcher for his age, and at this spot in the draft it's an entirely defensible selection. This isn't Matt Hobgood all over again- Bundy is a workout freak and should join the Orioles within a few years. The Royals are on the clock now, and you have to wonder how far Rendon falls. Starling and Rendon are the top two guys on the board right now, with guys like Archie Bradley, Jed Bradley, Taylor Jungmann, Matt Barnes, Sonny Gray and Francisco Lindor being possible selections as we get into the latter part of the draft's first ten picks.
(7:21 PM EST): And as expected, the Diamondbacks snag UCLA right-handed pitcher Trevor Bauer with the third overall pick. Bauer is a potential ace with impressive raw stuff and he's shown that he knows how to use while dominating in an elite college conference. He has a wide variety of pitches and knows how to utilize them, and because of that he's expected to move quickly through the minors. Between Bauer, Jarrod Parker and Dan Hudson, Arizona is building quite the rotation down the road. The Baltimore Orioles are on the clock right now, and should still be looking at names like Rendon, Bundy, Starling and Bradley at No. 4.
(7:17 PM EST): Wow. It took just two picks for us to see our first relative surprise in the draft, as the Mariners select Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen with the second overall pick. Most people expected Vanderbilt third baseman Anthony Rendon to be taken here, but Hultzen is a very solid pick at No. 2 given the quality of his stuff from the left side. Between him, Michael Pineda and Felix Hernandez, the Mariners should have one of the best rotations in the AL for the next few years. The next question to ponder: where does Rendon go now? The word right now is that Arizona is looking at UCLA righty Trevor Bauer at No. 3, and the Diamondbacks are currently on the clock right now. Other possible selections at 3 are Rendon, Kansas prep outfielder Bubba Starling, or one of the Oklahoma prep right-handers, Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley.
(7:10 PM EST): And there we have it. The possible future ace from the UCLA Bruins has been selected as the first overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cole give them a legit power arm that can front a Major League rotation within three years. His main weapons are a fastball that touches 98, a plus-plus change-up, and a slider that often flashes plus. With his build and the stuff he's shown in college, he should be able to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher in the majors within a couple years assuming that his command improves. Command has always been the primary flaw for the No. 1 overall pick. The Mariners are on the clock right now, and pick in a couple minutes.
(7:06 PM EST): Opening comments from Commissioner Selig right now. Very exciting event here, particularly considering the apparently quality of the talent in this draft class. There's a ridiculous amount of high-quality college pitching in this draft, along with some supreme high school pitching, a few premium up-the-middle bats and a couple of potential 30+ home run sluggers. The Pirates on the clock right now and should pick in a minute or so, and I'll drop by again then to discuss their pick, which appears to be UCLA's Gerrit Cole, at I noted before.
(6:53 PM EST): Hey everyone, so this is going to be the post for the live blog covering this year's Rule 4 MLB Draft. I'll be the primary presence here, but other people from the site may drop by once in a while to chime in with their own opinions. Really, this is just a good place for everyone to gather to discuss each other's thoughts, and I'll be covering each pick with my own thoughts while peppering in other anecdotes and such as they come to me.
We're about to get going soon, with the draft starting at 7 PM Eastern; it's being covered on television by MLB Network, for those who have access to that. It appears that the Pirates will be taking UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole with the first pick according to this report, which bodes with the pick I thought the Bucs should make in my 2011 MLB Draft Preview for Beyond the Box Score. We'll see when the pick actually comes in a little bit, though, so I'll be checking in frequently from here on out.
Thanks for checking in everyone, and let's have a good draft night. Nay, a great draft night.