By Bob Elliott
The annual draft of high schoolers and collegians -- or Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft, as guys wearing suits call it -- begins Monday night in Secaucus, N.J.
The Houston Astros are on the clock and select first from inside the MLB Network studios. Teams will make their first-round and compensation picks tonight.
Where will Canadians be selected? How high will LHP Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, Ont.) go? Since it is a jump-ball for second over-all Canadian, who goes next? How many Canadians will be selected?
Check back here for info on our live blog.
Day II goes Tuesday starting at noon with the second round.
And Day III begins Wednesday at noon as they move to the 40th and final.
But first Day 1 ...
3 PM: OK, for a draft primer who was the first Canadian ever drafted? He was a good pick ... made the majors and is still involved in the game? Do you have a guess ... let us know at email@example.com and you'll win ... ah, you'll win ... bragging rights as Canada's Mel Kiper, Jr.
3:33 PM (Larry Walker time) ... How many Canadians will be selected? We asked some scouts.
“Off the top of my head 15 to 25. What is a more interesting question is who will sign. Signability is not easy this year.”
“Around 10-to-12, not a good year.”
“I’m going to say 20.”
“I hope to get a couple, to pick one number: 16.”
“Would say about 25, but the most important number is guys signed. What was it last year, 35 drafted in 50 rounds and 23 signed. I’ll tel you the number that will jump -- the number of free agents signed. Last year there were six. I’ll bet that gets doubled. It’s about getting out getting playing and getting into the system. if you want to play I think there is a good opportunity there.”
“I turned in 22 players, so I’ll go with 30.”
“I’d say 12-to-15 high schoolers, I’m not real strong on the guys in college.”
“My guess is 37. It’s tough to predict what everyone will do, from what I have heard from people is it is completely up in the air.”
“Not sure about across Canada, but my guess is 10 in Ontario, seven for sure.”
“Since I don’t know the whole country this is just a throwing a dart guess - 17!!”
That computes to an average of ... sorry, am not good at math.
The high for Canucks was in 48 in 2002, the best year ever with Adam Loewen, fourth over-all to Baltimore Orioles, Jeff Francis, ninth over-all to the Colorado Rockies and Joey Votto, 44th over-all to the Cincinnati Reds and the low was 20 in 1992.
4:20 PM: Things to read when teams are on the clock ...
5:17 PM: And since you asked ... the spiffy graphics were done by Michael Yokota of madewithmagnolia.com, a dear friend of web site.
6:59 PM: Just found this email ...
"I am a LHP and am draft eligible for this year yet my name was not on the list. As a person trying to chase his dream of playing professional baseball, I feel my name being left off the list is haulting this dream. I just finished my sophomore year and am 21 years of age. I realize the likelyhood of getting chosen this year is very slim but it's almost a guarantee when your name is not even on the list. If there is anything you can do it would be greatly appreciated."
The rule we've always gone by in doing the draft list is that at least one scout has to have shown interest in a player. No way am I putting a player on a list on May 15 to make him happy for three days and have his hopes dashed come June 4-6. Hey, I hope they all get drafted. But remember this, there are a bunch of players sitting at home right now wishing they had pitched in their freshman year, with the hope of getting to a sophomore season.
7:12 PM: Houston Astros shun Stanford right-hander Mark Appel to chose SS Carlos Correa of the Puerto Rico Academy. When the Jays selected Alex Rios 19th over-all in 1999 and OF Miguel Negron in 2000 during the Inter Brew absentee ownership days they were knocked for not signing the best player, but making the cheapest deal. Rios is with the Chicago White Sox, while Negron, 18th over-all, played at class-A Kannapolis in the White Sox system. He reached double-A New Hampshire in 2005 with the Blue Jays.
7:27 PM: And some other late posts you should check out:
7:36 PM: Twenty years ago this week the St. Louis Cardinals selected 1B Darren Doucette (Dartmouth, N.S.) from Ulster Community College in the 25th round, as he reminds us via Faceybook. He was chosen after RHP Derek Bieniasz (Toronto, Ont.) who went to the Seattle Mariners and before the Cleveland Indians took LHP Michael Neilson (Burnaby, BC) of Willamette University. Doucette is one of 13 players selected from Nova Scota since 1991.
7:46 PM: Panola College Ponies RHP Paul Barton (Qualicum Beach, BC) commits to University of Louisiana at Lafayette (LA) and teammate RHP Nick Alexiou (Port Qualicum, BC) is off to McNeese State University (LA).
8:12 PM: Who is running the Oakland A's? They just picked a HSer in SS Addison Russell, of Pensacola, Fla. their first HSer since 2001.
8:29 PM: Am tired of these "when did you find out questions?" Teams would not be taking the player unless they told him. As evidence we submit the Kansas City Royals arriving from stage right.
11:29 PM: Now that we're caught up ... some Baseball America scouting reports on the Jays five picks:
1st OF D.J. Davis
6’ 0”, 170 lbs.
Wiggins, Miss. HS
Selected: 17th over-all.
Slot: $2 Million
Committed to: Meridian Community College.
National Rank: 20.
Scouting report: Davis is fighting a difficult profile out of Mississippi. The state has produced 32 first-round and supplemental first-round picks since the draft’s inception. But the only players drafted out of the Magnolia State in the first round who signed out of high school and reached the majors are outfielder Don Castle (1968 draft), who played four games in 1973, and Steve Pegues (1987 draft), who had a 100-game career. In fact, infielders Charlie Hayes (1983) and Bill Hall (1998) have had the best careers of Mississippi prep products in draft history. That history may move Davis down some draft boards, but his talent puts him squarely in the first round. He’s faster even than Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, the state’s current standard-bearer, turning in 6.4-second 60 times, and has more than enough range for center field, with below-average but playable arm strength. Moreover, Davis has good strength in his hands and forearms, with a real chance to hit for average. He’s fast enough to be a slap hitter but isn’t one. He has an old-fashioned handsy, whippy swing and has shown gap power and consistent hard contact against good competition, such as at East Coast Showcase and playing for the Mets scout team in the fall. He has better instincts more polish than the average Mississippi prep player, which gives some ammunition to counter the state’s track record in the first round. He’s considered signable, having committed to Meridian (Miss.) CC.
2nd RHP Marcus Stroman
5’ 9”, 180 lbs.
Slected: 22nd over-all
Slot: $1.8 M
National Rank: 10.
Scouting report: An 18th-round pick out of a New York high school in 2009, Stroman’s commitment to Duke and his size scared teams off. He was a two-way player in high school, but scouts always preferred him on the mound because of his low-90s fastball and compared him to Tom Gordon. After three years at Duke, Stroman has become one of the most electric arms in the country despite being 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds. He was 5-4, 2.36 with 119 strikeouts and 22 walks in 84 innings this spring for a bad Duke team. He is athletic and now sits at 92-94 mph as a starter and can touch 95-96. His best secondary offering is a nasty slider with depth. He has also mixed in a good changeup and a cutter that sits 88-90 mph. He can hold his velocity deep into games, but most scouts say he could be the first 2012 draftee to reach the big leagues if he goes to the bullpen. He worked as the closer for Team USA last summer and was 93-96 mph consistently, pitching 8 1/3 innings without giving up a hit while striking out 17 and walking one.
3rd LHP Matt Smoral
6’ 7” 225 lbs.
Solon, Ohio HS
Slected: 50th over-all.
Slot: $1 M
Committed to: North Carolina University.
National Rank: 24.
Scouting report: Smoral entered 2012 projected to go in the top half of the first round, and only enhanced his status in his first appearance of the season. In a March scrimmage on Solon High’s football field, he worked off a portable mound in front of four dozen scouts. He sat at 90-93 mph with his fastball for three innings, then bumped it up to 94 mph in the fourth. He also showed a plus low-80s slider and command that day. But Smoral would make only one regular-season appearance, during which he was hampered by blisters, before being diagnosed with a broken fourth metatarsal bone in his right foot. He had surgery April 6 and isn’t expected to be able to pitch before the July 13 signing deadline. Nevertheless, he still figures to land somewhere in the first round and forego a scholarship from North Carolina. A lanky 6-foot-7, 225-pounder, Smoral throw from a low three-quarters angle that presents difficult angle for hitters. He’s still growing into his body and learning how to stay on top of his pitches, but he’s athletic enough to eventually figure that out. He’ll also have to improve his changeup, a pitch he had little use for against Ohio high school competition.
4th 3B Mitch Nay
6’ 3” 195
Chandler, Az. HS
Committed to: Arizona State
National Rank: 101.
Scouting report: Nay started the year slowly, and scouts said he was trying to put his team on his back and pressing at the plate. He struggled offensively and defensively before turning things around in the weeks leading up to the draft. He has been flying up draft boards and could even sneak into the back half of the first round. Nay has a good frame at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds and shows above-average power potential, as well as a plus arm. Some scouts wonder how much Nay will hit for average, though he did make adjustments this season when he realized pitchers were throwing him a steady diet of curveballs and changeups. He’ll have to work to stay at third base, but could handle a move to right field because of his arm strength. Nay moves well laterally but has below-average speed. He’s part of a loaded Arizona State recruiting class, but Nay is unlikely to wind up on campus.
5th Tyler Gonzalez
6’ 2” 185 lbs.
San Antonio HS
Committed to: University of Texas
National Rank: 45
Scouting report: Gonzales has one of the best two-pitch mixes in the entire draft. After operating at 88-92 mph with his fastball in his first scrimmage of the year, he has worked at 93-95 mph and touched 97 consistently in games. He maintains velocity deep into games, pitching at 91-93 mph in the latter stages. He also has a big league slider that sits at 84-88 mph and has reached as high as 90. The nephew of Nationals crosschecker Jimmy Gonzales, who worked with Dana Brown, now special assistant to Alex Anthopoulos, Tyler is more wiry than physical at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. He generates his electric stuff with a considerable amount of effort in his delivery, which includes a head whack and detracts from his command. He locates his slider better than his fastball, and there’s debate as to whether he’ll wind up as a starter or a reliever. Gonzales has closer upside and might be at his best if a big league team just let him try to overpower opponents for one or two innings at a time. He does show a changeup while warming up in the bullpen but doesn’t use it in games. He’s another member of a banner University of Texas recruiting class who doesn’t figure to make it to Austin.