Outfielder Wilson first of Draft's Urban Youth alumni
D-backs land speedster with 69th pick; Texas nabs fellow Compton star Morgan
NEW YORK -- Two more Urban Youth Academy players were taken in the first three rounds of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, continuing the organization's recent trend of producing early-round Draft picks.
Outfielder Marcus Wilson became the first UYA player off the board this year when he was selected by the D-backs with the 69th overall pick on Thursday night. Fellow Compton Urban Youth Academy standout Josh Morgan followed one round later, when he was selected by the Rangers with the 95th overall pick on Friday afternoon.
In all, the Urban Youth Academy had seven former players taken in this year's Draft. In addition to Wilson and Morgan, UYA alums selected this weekend included: Luke Dykstra (seventh round, Braves), Jared Robinson (11th round, Indians), Denz'l Chapman (32nd round, Athletics), Tyree Davis (37th round, Twins) and Nathan Rodriguez (39th round, Rockies).
Wilson, ranked No. 35 in the MLB.com Top 200 Draft Prospects List, is a speedy outfielder who could add some power to his game down the road.
As for Morgan, the right-handed-hitting shortstop has committed to play college baseball at the University of California at Los Angeles. He spent some time at third base and catcher during his prep career before returning to his natural position up the middle the past two seasons.
The duo follows in the footsteps of former UYA players Dominic Smith and J.P. Crawford, both of whom were selected in the first round of last year's Draft. Smith was taken with the 11th overall pick by the Mets, while Crawford was selected five picks later by the Phillies.
Both Smith and Crawford are off to stellar starts in their Minor League careers as they, along with Wilson and Morgan, are trying to become the next UYA players to reach the Majors. On Tuesday, Jon Singleton became the sixth UYA alumnus to reach the Majors when he debuted for the Astros.
Singleton also became the first Major Leaguer to have previously appeared in the Breakthrough Series, an annual showcase event featuring some of the best high school players in the country. Wilson was one of eight former Breakthrough Series participants taken on Day 1 of the Draft this year, and Morgan quickly joined that group on Day 2.
It didn't take long for the first Breakthrough Series alum to hear his name called on Thursday, as 2010 participant Carlos Rodon was selected third overall by the White Sox -- the highest selection for a former Breakthrough Series player in history. In addition to Rodon and Wilson, the six other former participants selected on the first day of the Draft included Touki Toussaint (16th overall by Arizona), Luis Ortiz (30th, Texas), Justus Sheffield (31st, Cleveland), Jacob Gatewood (41st, Milwaukee), Monte Harrison (50th, Milwaukee) and Ronnie Williams (68th, St. Louis).
One other pick from the first two days, seventh-rounder Emmanuel Marrero, took part in the annual Urban Invitational in both 2012 and '13. Marrero, a shortstop out of Alabama State, was selected by the Phillies with the 202nd overall pick.
Both the Urban Youth Academy and the Breakthrough Series figure to have more players selected on Saturday as the Draft concludes. To date, more than 100 players from the academies have been taken in the First-Year Player Draft, with the Compton academy having by far the most success. Major League Baseball, however, expects to soon begin seeing similar results from its newer facilities in Houston and New Orleans, as well as the facilities expected to open later this summer in Philadelphia and Cincinnati.