For the third consecutive year, a high schooler was selected with the No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft.
Great Bridge (Chesapeake, Va.) senior Justin Upton went to Arizona with the top pick of the draft Tuesday, a year after San Diego selected Mission Bay (San Diego, Calif.) shortstop Matt Bush at No. 1 and two years after Tampa Bay selected Camarillo (Camarillo, Calif.) outfielder Delmon Young first.
Upton, a five-tool prospect who hit .519 with 11 home runs and 32 RBI and was named Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year this spring, is expected to command a signing bonus in excess of $5 million. He had previously signed with North Carolina State for college but is expected to go pro.
Although he was drafted as a shortstop, Upton struggled there defensively at Great Bridge this spring and could eventually move to the outfield, where the 6-foot-2, 187-pounder's speed and arm strength could be better suited for.
No matter where he plays, Upton is expected to take the fast track to the majors, much like his older brother, B.J., who became the first teenager to homer in the big leagues since 1998 when he was called up last summer.
Justin and B.J., who was selected No. 2 by Tampa Bay in the 2002 draft, became the highest-drafted siblings in MLB history, besting Young and his brother, Detroit Tigers first baseman Dmitri Young, who was picked No. 4 in 1991.
Rated the No. 1 prep prospect in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com, Justin Upton was one of 10 high school seniors selected in the first round of Tuesday's draft.
After eight college players followed Upton, Cameron Maybin of T.C. Roberson (Asheville, N.C) became the second prep player selected when Detroit grabbed him with the No. 10 pick.
Rated the No. 2 prep prospect in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com, Maybin is a sweet-swinging right-hander who has been compared to Ken Griffey Jr.
Following Maybin, three more prep players were selected consecutively.
Fort Meade (Fort Meade, Fla.) outfielder Andrew McCutchen went No. 11 to Pittsburgh, West Brook (Beaumont, Texas) outfielder Jay Bruce went No. 12 to Cincinnati and Westfield (Chantilly, Va.) star Brandon Snyder went No. 13 to Baltimore.
Snyder, who batted .547 with 29 runs, five doubles, two triples and three home runs this spring, played mostly shortstop in high school but is expected to move to catcher in the pros.
Next up among high schoolers was Palm Beach Gardens (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) right-handed pitcher Chris Volstad, who was selected by his hometown team when the Florida Marlins made him the 16th pick of the first round.
Rated the nation's No. 9 prep prospect in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com, Volstad signed with Miami but said he'd likely go pro if selected in the first round. The 6-foot-7, 195-pound flamethrower went 7-2 with a 0.41 ERA, 98 strikeouts and eight walks this spring.
He was the first of two prep pitchers selected by the Marlins in the first round. They also took Second Baptist (Houston, Texas) left-hander Aaron Thompson with the 22nd pick.
The other high schoolers selected in the first round were: Putnam City (Oklahoma City, Okla.) shortstop C.J. Henry, who went to the Yankees with the 17th pick; Springville (Springville, Utah) left-handed pitcher Mark Pawelek, who went to the Cubs with the 20th pick and already agreed to terms with Chicago; and Russell County (Seale, Ala.) outfielder Colby Rasmus, who was grabbed by St. Louis with the 28th pick.
On the other hand, several big names saw their stock fall drastically for various reasons.
Originally projected as a first-round draft pick, Denton Ryan (Denton, Texas) outfielder Austin Jackson fell all the way into the Yankees' lap in the eighth round Tuesday.
Jackson, who signed with Georgia Tech for basketball, has repeatedly said he'd like to play pro baseball and college basketball next year. Still, his commitment to hoops likely scared teams away. Rated the No. 10 prep baseball prospect in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com, Jackson batted .410 with 18 home runs and 111 RBI during his prep career.
While Jackson's stock plummeted, three other SchoolSports All-Americans weren't even selected in the first 18 rounds Tuesday.
Round Rock (Round Rock, Texas) outfielder Jordan Danks, Mills Godwin (Woodbridge, Va.) middle infielder Justin Bristow and Pioneer (Ann Arbor, Mich.) right-handed pitcher/third baseman Zach Putnam were all projected as first rounders for much of the spring but fell drastically.
Danks reportedly sent a letter to all 30 MLB teams informing them that he plans on honoring his commitment to Texas. The outfielder was finally selected in the 19th round by the White Sox Wednesday, though he is unlikely to sign.
Bristow fell all the way to the 22nd round before Kansas City took a chance on him. Despite falling so low, Bristow will reportedly ask for near first-round money. If the Royals balk, he'll likely honor his commitment to Auburn.
Putnam, meanwhile, is also asking for first-round money. And although he has had a great senior year — he is 9-0 with a 0.15 ERA on the mound and is batting .570 at the plate — one bad outing might have hurt his stock.
With about 30 major league scouts on hand, Putnam reportedly struggled with his fastball in a disastrous outing against Dexter (Mich.) earlier this spring.
But not all is lost for Putnam, who was throwing in the mid 80s in the Dexter disaster. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder signed with Michigan and should have a bright future in college if pro baseball isn't in his immediate future.