Cardinals' 11th-round pick Salazar makes history for Houston Urban Youth Academy
By Spencer Fordin
NEW YORK -- Forty rounds have passed, and the next generation of talent has found a new home.
The MLB Draft wound through its third and final day Wednesday, and more than 1,200 players were apportioned to the 30 big league teams. The Draft started at 7 p.m. ET Monday night with the Arizona selection of shortstop Dansby Swanson, and it ended around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Draft's final selection -- Mr. Don't Count Him Out -- was Jacob McDavid, a pitcher out of Oral Roberts University who was taken by the Angels. McDavid was pick No. 1,215, and his selection capped off a diverse three-day haul of talent that will contain many surprises and developmental projects.
The action started around noon on Wednesday, and the Diamondbacks began the day on the clock. Arizona selected Austin Byler, a power-hitting first baseman, with the first pick of the 11th round.
Byler, a senior from the University of Nevada, will join an organization that developed All-Star Paul Goldschmidt, a former eighth-round draftee. Byler was a ninth-round pick as a junior but went back to school and batted .328 with a .507 on-base percentage and a .652 slugging mark his year.
The Astros, who struck twice in the first five picks of the Draft on Monday night, made an interesting selection of their own in the 11th round. Houston selected toolsy southpaw pitcher Patrick Sandoval, who turned heads while pitching for Mission Viejo (Calif.) High School and on the showcase circuit.
Another interesting arm, Ian Gibaut from Tulane University, went in the 11th round to the Tampa Bay Rays. Gibaut, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, could move quickly if the Rays use him as a reliever, but he might need more development if he's going to start in the Minor Leagues.
The Braves started Wednesday by prospecting in a familar place. Atlanta found Craig Kimbrel and Andrelton Simmons at junior colleges in seasons past, and it selected pitchers Grayson Jones and Chase Mullins-Johnston along with outfielder Justin Ellison from the JC ranks in the 11th, 12th and 13th rounds.
The Urban Youth Academy pipeline, one of Major League Baseball's initiatives to develop baseball players and programs in the inner city, achieved two important milestones on Wednesday.
Paul Salazar, a shortstop and pitcher from Lutheran South Academy in Houston, became the first player from the local Urban Youth Academy there to be drafted. Salazar went in the 11th round to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Urban Youth Academy in New Orleans also yielded its first draftee in Earl Burl III, an outfielder from Alcorn State University who was taken in the 30th round by the Blue Jays.
When Wednesday began, 15 players from MLBPipeline's Top 100 prospect list were still available. Pitcher Donny Everett, the highest-ranked remaining player, had to wait most of Wednesday to be called. Everett, No. 23 on the pre-draft list, was finally taken by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 29th round.
The Draft's 40 rounds yielded some interesting trends. There were nine shortstops taken in the first round, which tied a Draft record set twice previously, and 102 shortstops taken in total. Nearly half of the players taken in the 40 rounds were pitchers, with 633 arms selected among the 1,215 draft picks.
More than 70 percent of the pitchers chosen -- 462 out of 633 -- were right-handed arms. The Draft yielded 261 infielders, 211 outfielders and 109 catchers, plus one player deemed a utility man by the MLB Scouting Bureau. Fifty-three first basemen, 53 third basemen and 51 second basemen were drafted.
Geographically speaking, the draftees came from all over the country. Forty-eight states were represented, with Alaska and Wyoming serving as the lone exceptions. Four states -- California (215), Florida (142), Texas (112) and Georgia (70) -- had more than 50 prospects drafted.
If you're counting by school, six universities separated themselves from the pack. Four schools -- Arizona State, University of Florida, University of Illinois and Vanderbilt -- had nine players drafted.
A surprising school, the University of California at Santa Barbara, had 10 players drafted. One of those players, No. 4 overall Dillon Tate, became the highest draftee attached to the Urban Youth Academies. And one baseball power, the University of Oklahoma, led all schools with 11 players drafted.
Honorable mention goes to the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, a four-year-old school in Puerto Rico started by its namesake All-Star. Beltran's fledgling academy yielded five draftees this year.
There were also some players that went Wednesday who can boast of familiar surnames. The sons of former Houston teammates Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio were both taken by the Astros. And Brantley Bell, the son of former big league shortstop Jay Bell, was taken in the 11th round by the Reds.
David Lucroy, brother of Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy, went to the Brewers in the 20th round. The younger Lucroy is a pitcher out of the University of East Carolina and could potentially throw to his brother one day down the road. Luke Wakamatsu, son of Kansas City bench coach Don Wakamatsu, was drafted in the 20th round, as was Yomar Valentin, son of former big league shortstop Jose Valentin.
The Los Angeles Angels got to select Jonah Dipoto, son of general manager Jerry Dipoto, and the Tigers also got to have a little fun. Third baseman Nick Castellanos, the 44th overall selection in 2010, got to announce that Detroit had selected his brother, Ryan Castellanos, in the 25th round Wednesday.
The Major Leagues recently saw its first switch-pitcher -- Pat Venditte -- in a generation, but there may be another one on the way soon. Cleveland drafted ambidextrous reliever Ryan Perez out of Judson University in the 12th round. Perez is regarded as a better prospect with his powerful left arm.
Several players from the league's RBI program -- which stands for Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities -- were selected over the course of the three-day Draft. Tate was one of them, as were three other players -- Alex Robinson, Tyler Mark and Blake Hickman -- who went in the top eight rounds.
Several players who had played in MLB's Breakthrough Series were selected over the three-day Draft, including Tate and fellow first-round draftee Ke'Bryan Hayes. Breakthrough Series players dotted the rest of the draft, populating the early rounds and lasting all the way until Kevin Santiago in the 39th round.
The draft closed with McDavid, a senior who spent two years at Oral Roberts after beginning his career at a junior college. McDavid said he still has two or three semesters left of school, but he plans on signing with the Angels and embarking on a pro career that he couldn't have predicted on Tuesday
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.