Harper the story of 2010 Draft ... for now
Trends toward pitching and college players continue in 2010
NEW YORK -- The initial hype proclaims this the Bryce Harper Draft, but history has a way of affixing its own labels.
Major League Baseball held Day 3 of its First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday, distributing another 20 rounds of talent throughout the league. The teams drafted 50 rounds of players over the last three days, providing the lifeblood for their respective farm systems. And with the laborious process of scouting and choosing prospects behind them, Major League scouting directors can begin plotting out the signing process.
Teams have until Aug. 16 to sign their draftees or lose them back to the Draft, and then the competitive process will begin, with players sorting themselves in the Minor Leagues on production and potential for future growth.
Harper, the 17-year-old prodigy who landed in Washington with the first pick of the Draft, certainly has the ability to become a signature talent. But that doesn't mean he'll be the only story -- or even the dominant one -- that comes out of the Draft. Harper's maturation will play out over the next few years, alongside the development of hundreds of fellow draftees.
And even with Harper's borderline historic level of talent, it's clear that some trends just aren't changing. Teams continued to draft college players at the expense of more youthful talent, scoring the third-highest percentage (52.2) of four-year university prospects in the last 25 years. In fact, the seven highest percentages have all come in the last seven years.
That same disparity is evident when viewed from the other angle.
High school draftees accounted for the fifth-lowest percentage (32.7) in Draft history, but the raw numbers have held fairly stable over the last four years. It seems readily apparent that recent rule changes -- which eliminated the draft-and-follow aspect of the proceedings -- have resulted in more prospects going to four-year universities.
And that's not the only continuing development. Teams have also begun to invest more heavily in pitchers, drafting more of them at the expense of position players. Major League scouting directors used 52.3 percent of their picks on pitchers this year, accounting for the seventh-highest percentage. Nine of the top 10 have come in the last 10 years.
Those trends didn't really show up at the top of the Draft, with 16 prep players going in the first round. Eight pitchers were chosen in the top 15 picks, and 15 pitchers went in the entire first round. For perspective -- and an indicator of how things looked last year -- 15 prep players and 16 pitchers were taken in the first round in 2009.
The league's RBI program -- which stands for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities -- was instituted with the hope of exposing more inner-city kids to the game, and it produced three draftees this season. Second-round pick Reggie Golden was the player selected highest, and if he signs, he'll begin his professional career in the Cubs' organization. Cleveland used a 19th-round choice to nab Mark Brown, and Texas selected Kendall Radcliffe six rounds later.
The third day of the Draft produced several notable selections, including a few with familiar names. Three teams -- the Dodgers, Blue Jays and Tigers -- elected to draft the younger brother of one of their current players.
The Dodgers got outfielder Devon Ethier -- sibling to Andre -- in the 32nd round, and Detroit got ace Justin Verlander's brother Benjamin, also a pitcher, in the 46th round. One round later, the Blue Jays pounced on right-hander Gabriel Romero, brother of southpaw and former first-round draftee Ricky Romero.
The Mets and Yankees also went for some name recognition and a link to their illustrious past. The Mets took pitcher John Franco, the son of former relief ace John Franco, in the 42nd round. The Yankees struck in that same round by choosing outfielder Michael O'Neill, the nephew of longtime lineup stalwart and fan favorite Paul O'Neill.
This year's Draft also produced some notable crossover with the National Football League. Two recent football draftees -- the New York Giants' Chad Jones and the Seattle Seahawks' Golden Tate -- were taken in the 50th round on Wednesday. Jones, a third-round draftee in football, went to Milwaukee. Tate, a second-rounder in the NFL, was selected by San Francisco.
And that's not the only football tie-in, as two college quarterbacks were drafted relatively high. Clemson's Kyle Parker -- who doubled as quarterback and outfielder -- was taken in the first round by the Rockies. Russell Wilson, who quarterbacked North Carolina State, was also selected by Colorado, allowing the Rockies to corner the market.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.