Day 2 focus switches from arms to bats
Pirates' gamble on prep outfielder Bell sets tone for the day
NEW YORK -- Top-end hitting talent became the early priority on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft, a brief divergence from the pitching-rich focus that fueled the first-round proceedings on Monday night. And after that wave subsided, teams got down to the business of filling out their lower-tier affiliates.
Five of the first six draftees on Tuesday were position players, a contingent led by prep outfielder Josh Bell, the first selection in the second round. Bell, widely regarded as a first-round talent, had sent a letter to teams requesting that he not be drafted so that he could pursue an education at the University of Texas.
Pittsburgh took its chances with Bell, though, and will try to get him to reach an agreement at some point over the next two months. Several other teams took similar risks early Tuesday, and seven of the top 10 remaining prospects on the MLB.com Draft chart were off the board by the end of the second round.
Three of those top 10, in fact, were gone in the first four picks on Day 2. Arizona added to its pitching stockpile -- a group headed by first-round draftees Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley and supplemental round pick Andrew Chafin -- by taking Anthony Meo out of Coastal Carolina in the second round.
Meo, ranked No. 26 on MLB.com's list of the top 50 Draft prospects, went directly in front of another highly touted player. Baltimore selected third baseman Jason Esposito -- one of six Vanderbilt players taken in the first three rounds -- with the fourth selection in the second round, concluding the early run on top-flight college players.
Eight of the next 10 picks were for prep talents, including two of the best-regarded young pitchers left on the board. Dillon Howard and Daniel Norris -- both ranked in the top 20 of MLB.com's list of top 50 prospects -- were drafted by Cleveland and Toronto, respectively, in the second round.
Norris, perceived by many as the top left-handed high school pitcher in the draft, dropped largely due to salary demands he had made early in the process. Several teams concluded that the lefty was content to attend Clemson University, but Toronto took a chance based on its depth in picks and premium talent.
The Blue Jays, much like the Rays, had stacked up many extra picks after losing several players to free agency. Toronto used its Draft bounty to select five prep players -- pitchers Tyler Beede, Joe Musgrave and Kevin Comer and outfielders Jacob Anderson and Dwight Smith -- in the first and supplemental rounds.
Seventeen position players and 13 pitchers went in the second round, and Pittsburgh made an interesting selection to kick off the third round. Alex Dickerson, a slugging outfielder from the University of Indiana, was tabbed by the Pirates with the top pick, and they immediately clarified that he will play first base as a professional.
Dickerson was the eighth player of the MLB.com top 10 remaining prospects to get picked on Tuesday, and the final two -- lefty pitcher Matthew Purke and college catcher Pete O'Brien -- were taken by the end of the round. Purke, out of TCU, had his Draft status affected by a sore pitching shoulder.
The last two players named in MLB.com's list of top 50 prospects -- Josh Osich out of Oregon State and prep outfielder Derek Fisher -- were taken in the sixth round, arresting their Draft slide early in the day.
The Draft wound its way through 30 rounds on Tuesday, scouring the nation for the next generation of Major League and Minor League talent. And it will continue with 20 more rounds on Wednesday, allowing each team to acquire enough players to thoroughly stock each affiliate in its organizational chain.
Some powerful trends have emerged after the Draft's second day. Teams have taken 288 prep players and 525 players from four-year colleges through the first 30 rounds. There have been 353 right-handed pitchers drafted, a number that compares favorably to the total of position players (434) taken.
Only one catcher went in the first round, but the teams have combined to draft 72 catchers over the first two days. There have been 208 infielders drafted -- 23 second basemen and 88 shortstops among them -- and 154 outfielders. First basemen accounted for just 43 picks, one more than left and right field combined.
The teams have taken 144 left-handed pitchers in the first two days. Shortstop and center field (78) were the two most frequently drafted positions, with catcher and third base (52) filtering in behind them.
Vanderbilt continued its early momentum and had 11 players drafted, tops among all schools. Arizona State and the University of Florida (nine) tied for the second-most prolific schools on the Draft board, and they were followed by Cal-State Fullerton (eight). Three of those schools are still alive in the NCAA tournament.
Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at noon ET Wednesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.