The first round of the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday unfolded pretty much according to form, especially at the top. The No. 1-rated prospect, Cathedral Catholic High (San Diego) left-hander Brady Aiken went No. 1 overall to the Astros. The top seven prospects all went in the first eight picks, and the lone exception (Indiana catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber) went to a club (the Cubs at No. 4) known to be planning to save some money on its first selection by pushing a college bat up its Draft board.
But there were a few surprises.
Top three unexpected first-rounders
1. Jack Flaherty, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif. (Cardinals, No. 34). Some teams considered Flaherty a late first-round talent, but most thought he was unsignable away from a commitment to North Carolina. The Cards used their second-round selection on UC Irvine right-hander Andrew Morales, whose lack of bargaining power as a senior will help free up money for Flaherty. Once considered a better prospect as a third baseman, Flaherty is an athletic, projectable 6-foot-3, 190-pounder with a low-90s fastball and has a chance for four average or better pitches.
2. Cole Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS, Phoenix (Pirates, No. 24). A member of the U.S. 18-and-under team that won the World Cup last fall, Tucker further helped his cause by playing well at the National High School Invitational this spring. He's a switch-hitter with a line-drive bat, above-average speed and the defensive chops to stay at shortstop. It's possible that Pittsburgh will sign Tucker for less than his assigned pick value ($1,925,500) and use some of the saving to meet the high price tag of second-rounder Mitch Keller, a right-hander from Xavier High (Cedar Rapids, Iowa).
3. Matt Chapman, 3B, Cal State Fullerton (Athletics, No. 25). Chapman entered 2014 rated as a first-round talent, but his stock slipped after he batted .312/.412/.498. He's an outstanding defender at the hot corner and owns plus raw power, albeit with mixed reviews on his bat. If hitting doesn't work out, Chapman could move to the mound, where he has been clocked as high as 98 mph in a brief appearance with Team USA last summer. He impressed the A's with a strong pre-Draft workout.
Top three players who fell out of the first round
1. Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS, Jacksonville, Fla. (Blue Jays, No. 49). Reid-Foley was linked as high as No. 9 overall to the Blue Jays at one point and to several clubs in the bottom third of the first round on Draft Day. Prep pitchers are the riskiest Draft demographic, and there was an especially deep crop of them this year, so some were bound to fall. Reid-Foley may have hurt his stock by not performing well in the Florida state all-star game, though he's still a proven high school performer with a 91-95 mph fastball, a quality slider and the ability to throw four pitches for strikes.
2. Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis (Calif.) HS (Brewers, No. 41). Gatewood has the most raw power of any player in the Draft, and it made him famous last summer when he won the junior portion of the All-Star Game Home Run Derby by cranking 13 homers with a metal bat at Citi Field. He has tremendous bat speed, a strong arm and good athleticism. The only knock on Gatewood is his tendency to swing and miss, but if he can make consistent contact he should be a star. He'll probably move to third base once he fills out his 6-foot-5 frame.
3. Monte Harrison, OF, Lee's Summit West (Mo.) HS (Brewers, No. 50). One of the best athletes in the Draft, Harrison has a football scholarship to play wide receiver at Nebraska. He accounted for 29 touchdowns while helping Lee's Summit West win the Missouri Class 5 state title last fall, and averaged 16.4 points per game on the Lee's Summit West basketball team that finished third in the state. Harrison's raw power, speed and arm strength all grade out as above-average tools. He does have some issues with pitch recognition, and his price tag appears to have affected his market on Draft Day.
Top three players still available
1. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, Stone Bridge HS, Ashburn, Va. Bukauskas sent teams an email in May, asking them not to draft him because he planned on attending North Carolina, and they apparently took him at his word. He created a stir when he threw 94-97 mph in the first inning of his first start in March and he maintained that velocity throughout this spring. Most teams project Bukauskas as a reliever because he's 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, but it's hard not to love that arm strength.
2. Jakson Reetz, C, Norris HS, Firth, Neb. Arguably the best all-around prep catcher available, Reetz starred on the amateur circuit last summer and fall. He was named MVP at the Perfect Game All-America Classic and hit .435 to help the U.S. 18-and-under team with the World Cup. More athletic than most catchers, Reetz has a quick bat and the potential for average power. He also has solid arm strength and should develop into a dependable receiver. (NOTE: Taken in the third round, No. 93 overall, by the Nationals.)
3. Milton Ramos, SS, American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla. The top defensive player in the Draft, Ramos has classic infield actions, good range to both sides, soft hands and a strong, accurate arm. Scouts aren't as enthralled by his bat, as he'll need to get stronger and make more consistent contact. Ramos does flash some power during batting practice, so there is hope for him at the plate. (NOTE: Taken in the third round, No. 84, by the Mets.)
The Draft continues today with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Day 3 begins Saturday at 1 p.m., covering rounds 11-40. MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.