The first two days of the 2015 MLB Draft are in the books, with 315 picks being taken during two five-and-a-half hour marathon draft sessions. If you missed the live draft on Monday and Tuesday, here are the biggest and most important stories from what turned out to be one of the more unpredictable and entertaining drafts in recent history.
1. D-Backs take Dansby Swanson with the 1st overall pick
Despite widespread speculation about Arizona taking a lower-ranked player in an effort to save money, they took the most complete player in Swanson with the number-one overall selection. Brendan Rodgers, Alex Bregman, Tyler Stephenson and Garrett Whitley were all rumored to be in the mix for the pick as well.
Swanson, who led Vanderbilt to the College World Series for the second straight season, joins Arizona's stable of young shortstops, including Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings.
2. Astros select 3 of top 7 prospects in draft
On paper, the Astros were the clear winners of Monday night, selecting three of MLB.com's top seven draft prospects in shortstop Alex Bregman (#4), outfielder Daz Cameron (#6), and outfielder Kyle Tucker (#7). All three players were widely projected to go in the top ten selections, but rumors of a high price tag on Cameron caused the high-schooler to fall all the way to the 37th pick.
Due to their failure to sign top overall pick Brady Aiken last year, the Astros have a massive draft pool of over $17.25 million to spend, meaning that they may have the resources to sign the entire trio of Bregman, Cameron and Tucker.
It's quite possible the Astros had the very best draft of all.
3. Brady Aiken, Jacob Nix get second chances after Astros debacle
One year after going unsigned by the Astros, first-overall pick Brady Aiken and fifth-rounder Jacob Nix were selected once again and will head to new organizations. Aiken, who recently underwent Tommy John surgery and had varying mock draft projections as a result, was a first-rounder once again, going to Cleveland with the seventeenth overall pick.
The move was regarded as a high-risk one for the Tribe considering Aiken's injury history, though many believe the team was savvy to add a player with first-overall talent in the mid-first round. Aiken's slot value is less than $2.4 million, which amounts to less than half of what he could have earned from the Astros if he had signed their $5 million offer before last year's deadline.
Nix, who settled with the Astros after filing a grievance, went 86th overall to the Padres in the third round.
4. It's the year of the shortstop after all
2015 is regarded as "the year of the shortstop", and six were taken in the first round of the draft. Headlined by top picks Dansby Swanson (1 - Arizona), Alex Bregman (2 - Houston), and Brendan Rodgers (3 - Rockies), the first round also included Cornelius Randolph (10 - Phillies), Kevin Newman (19 - Pirates), and Richie Martin (20 - Athletics).
All told, ten shortstops were selected in the first 75 picks. How many will pan out?
5. Dodgers select high-upside steals despite late picks
The stars seemed to align for the Dodgers, who took college hurlers Walker Buehler (24th) and Kyle Funkhouser (35th) and were widely regarded as having one of the best draft nights.
MLB.com's rankings has Buehler as the eleventh-best prospect and Funkhouser as the thirteenth-best, so Los Angeles is likely ecstatic that both arms fell into their laps despite their late selections.
6. Diversity takes over in first round
Major League Baseball's various initiatives to become more diverse seem to be working, as fifteen of the first fifty-nine picks (25.4%) this year were African-American, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com:
15 of the first 59 picks are African-American. that's 25.4 pct. mlb has to be encouraged by this development.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) June 9, 2015
This is a significantly larger number than the percentage of African-Americans who were on 25-man rosters (8.2%) at the beginning of last season, causing optimism about how the game continues to grow in different ways. Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed his happiness about the numbers in a post-draft interview on MLB Network.
7. Famous sons taken early and often
Plenty of ex-major leaguers saw their sons drafted over the past two days, with the most notable news being that Mariano Rivera III went to the Nationals in the fourth round instead of being selected by his dad's Yankees.
In addition, Tyler Nevin (son of Phil) went to the Rockies with the 38th overall pick, Tate Matheny (son of Mike) went to the Red Sox in the fourth round, Cam Gibson (son of Kirk) went to the Tigers in the fifth round, and Daz Cameron (son of Mike) went to Houston with the 37th selection.
8. Marlins shock the world with 12th overall pick
The Marlins have never shied away from being unconventional, and they shocked the scouting community by selecting Canadian Josh Naylor with the twelfth overall pick in what appears to be an effort to save some money. (Which is itself not a shock if you consider recent Marlins history.)
One agent, shocked by the pick, referred to it as "unreal", noting that MLB.com ranked Naylor as their 59th best prospect before the draft and that he was regarded as a second- or third-rounder. Naylor, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound first baseman, is expected to sign with Miami instead of attending Texas Tech.
9. Mike Matuella falls to 3rd round following Tommy John surgery
After being considered a favorite for the first overall pick throughout much of the last year, Duke right-hander Mike Matuella fell all the way to the early third round after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier in the year. The Rangers selected Matuella with the 78th overall pick, demonstrating that teams are very concerned about his health despite his raw talent.
Matuella's fall is even more unusual considering teams' general willingness to draft pitchers with a recent history of Tommy John, as demonstrated by the Indians' selection of Brady Aiken this year and the picks of Jeff Hoffman (9th overall) and Erick Fedde (18th overall) to the Jays and Nationals last season.
10. 6 "Vandy Boys" selected in first 10 rounds
Vanderbilt had the best draft out of any college program, seeing six players drafted in the first ten rounds and three stars taken within the first 24 picks. In addition to Dansby Swanson going first overall to Arizona, righties Carson Fulmer (8th overall - White Sox) and Walker Buehler (24th overall - Dodgers) went in the first round and were joined by teammates Philip Pfeifer (3rd rd. - Dodgers), Rhett Wiseman (3rd rd. - Nationals), and Tyler Ferguson (6th rd. - Rangers).