First-Year Player Draft fast approaching

Event begins Thursday, with live coverage provided by MLB.com, MLB Network

First-Year Player Draft fast approaching
2014 Draft order
The order of the first round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft:
No. Team
1 Astros
2 Marlins
3 White Sox
4 Cubs
5 Twins
6 Mariners
7 Phillies
8 Rockies
9 Blue Jays
10 Mets
11 Blue Jays (P. Bickford - unsigned)
12 Brewers
13 Padres
14 Giants
15 Angels
16 D-backs
17 Royals
18 Nationals
19 Reds
20 Rays
21 Indians
22 Dodgers
23 Tigers
24 Pirates
25 A's
26 Red Sox
27 Cardinals
28 Royals (Comp for E. Santana)
29 Reds (Comp for S. Choo)
30 Rangers (Comp for N. Cruz)
31 Indians (Comp for U. Jimenez)
32 Braves (Comp for B. McCann)
33 Red Sox (Comp for J. Ellsbury)
34 Cardinals (Comp for C. Beltran)
View the complete Draft order on MLB.com/draft.

The Astros aren't on the clock just yet. But they will be soon. The countdown to the 2014 First-Year Player Draft is reaching its final hours.

The 2014 Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on June 6.

For the third consecutive season, Houston holds the top pick. The Astros selected Stanford right-hander Mark Appel with the No. 1 pick last year and shortstop Carlos Correa in 2012, and they will be the first team to have the top pick in three straight Drafts. The Rays and Nationals each had back-to-back No. 1 picks.

Pitching is expected to be abundant this year, and MLB.com Draft experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis expect a hurler to be selected first, with both believing that southpaw Brady Aiken of Cathedral Catholic High in San Diego will be the first selection. North Carolina State lefty Carlos Rodon and right-hander Tyler Kolek of Shepherd High School outside of Houston are the other arms the Astros appear to be looking at closely.

Aiken and Rodon sit atop MLBPipeline.com's Top 200 Draft Prospects list on Prospect Watch, which provides a handy road map for fans interested in learning about the leading Draft candidates. The three top prospects in this year's Draft, and seven of the top 10, are pitchers. They're joined by a couple high school position players -- catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson and shortstop Nick Gordon -- and college outfielder Bradley Zimmer.

Six teams -- Toronto, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Boston and St. Louis -- will have two selections in the first round. Two clubs -- Cleveland and Kansas City -- are tied with a league-high four picks on the first night of the Draft.

The Astros are tied with San Diego and the New York Mets as the only teams to hold the top selection five times, but there will be plenty of action after Houston is off the clock.

The Draft consists of 40 rounds, spanning three days. Day 1 consists of the first round, Competitive Balance Round A, the second round and Competitive Balance Round B. The Draft will resume at 1:05 p.m. ET on both Friday and Saturday. Day 2 covers rounds 3-10, and Day 3 includes rounds 11-40.

Fans can follow pick by pick with MLB.com Draft Central's Draft Tracker, and the official Draft Twitter account, @MLBDraft, will provide commentary and updates as the Draft progresses. Each and every pick of the Draft will be tweeted at @MLBDraftTracker as it is made.

Each club will be represented at the Draft by one of its former players or a member of its front office. That group includes a few Hall of Famers, four Cy Young Award winners, two Most Valuable Player Award winners and 29 former All-Stars.

Among those who will be attendance: Fergie Jenkins, the 1971 National League Cy Young Award winner; Andre Dawson, the '87 NL MVP Award winner; Randy Jones, the '76 NL Cy Young Award winner; Frank Viola, the '88 American League Cy Young Award winner; Chris Carpenter, the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner; and Ivan Rodriguez, the 1999 AL MVP Award winner.

They'll be joined in MLB Network's Studio 42 by seven young players waiting to start their big-league careers. It will be the second-largest group of potential draftees to attend the broadcast, and it's a group headlined by Gordon, the Olympia (Fla.) High School product with a Major League pedigree of his own. He's the son of former All-Star Tom Gordon and Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, and he is expected to be selected in the top five.

The other prospects attending the studio show will be Sprayberry (Ga.) High School shortstop Michael Chavis, Clovis (Calif.) High School shortstop Jacob Gatewood, Lee's Summit West (Mo.) High School outfielder Monte Harrison, Elk Grove (Calif.) High School outfielder Derek Hill, Conway (S.C.) High School right-hander Grant Holmes and Waiakea (Hawaii) High School left-hander Kodi Medeiros.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.