The No. 1 pick in this year’s Major League Baseball Rule 4 Draft went as expected: The Tigers took Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson. Otherwise, though, there were some eye-openers in Wednesday’s first round, as Jim Callis of MLB.com and Keith Law of The Athletic were among those to cover. Let’s take a look at some of those moves and then you can vote on the biggest surprise from the opening round.
- Vanderbilt 3B/OF Austin Martin “falls” to Blue Jays at No. 5: It’s a bit hyperbolic to suggest that someone who went fifth overall actually “fell” down. Martin was regarded by some as the best all-around prospect in the draft and was expected by many to go in the top two picks. Once the Orioles passed on him, though, both the Marlins and Royals opted to do the same, dropping yet another premium position player prospect into the Blue Jays’ laps. Martin will now join a future core that includes Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and Nate Pearson, among others.
- Orioles select Arkansas OF Heston Kjerstad at No. 2: Everyone anticipated that Kjerstad would be a first-rounder, but closer to the middle of the round. Kjerstad is regarded as having some of the best left-handed pop in the class — if not the best left-handed pop. But the Orioles are likely going to look to cut a deal here, thus allowing them to double up on a more balanced pair of high-end prospects.
- Minnesota RHP Max Meyer goes No. 3 to the Marlins: Meyer was projected as a Top 10 pick, but southpaw Asa Lacy was generally expected to be the top pitcher off the board, with most mock drafts projecting him to go to the Marlins. Miami clearly liked Meyer better, despite concerns about his height (6’0″). The Gopher ace runs his heater up into triple digits and will give the Fish a power arm to pair with an already-impressive crop of young pitching talent.
- Giants grab another college catcher: Two years after grabbing Joey Bart at No. 2 in the 2018 draft, the Giants used yet another top pick on a backstop. This time, with the 13th choice, San Francisco went with North Carolina State’s Patrick Bailey. Between Bart and Bailey, perhaps the Giants will be able to find at least one successor to franchise great Buster Posey. Regardless, president of baseball Farhan Zaidi simply believes Bailey was too good to pass on in that spot. “You don’t draft for need and you can never have too much catching,” Zaidi said (via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area, on Twitter).
- A Red Sox reach? In a move that J.J. Cooper of Baseball America regards as “the shock of the first round,” Boston used the 17th pick on Nick Yorke, a high school middle infielder from California. Yorke was not regarded by prospect gurus as a first-rounder entering the draft; however, because the Red Sox don’t have a second-rounder this year, they felt it was worthwhile to pick up Yorke when they still could.
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