In the course of one week: Ken Griffey Jr., the first overall pick of the 1987 Draft, retires with 630 home runs; Mike Leake, less than a year after being selected in the first round, improves to 5-0; Jamie Moyer, a product of the 1984 Draft, wins his 100th game since turning 40; Stephen Strasburg, who was born four years later, in 1988, makes his final tune-up for The Show; Adrian Gonzalez, the top overall pick in 2000, blasts a walk-off grand slam; and everyone turns their attention to the Commissioner's podium for the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Around and around it goes as always, and the newest wave of professional baseball talent will be welcomed Monday in grand style. For the second consecutive year, MLB will stage Day 1 of the Draft at Studio 42 at MLB Network in Secaucus, N.J. The Draft will air live on MLB Network and MLB.com on Monday at 7 p.m. ET, with Commissioner Bud Selig announcing each of the first-round selections.
By all accounts, the likeliest name Selig will read first will be that of Bryce Harper, the much-heralded catcher. The Nationals had the No. 1 overall selection last year and used it on Strasburg, and they have that right again by virtue of their last-place finish in 2009. Will that franchise grow around a battery of Strasburg and Harper? All the plans are set in place for the announcement that matters to so many people.
"It's time to make a big deal about it," former Astros great Craig Biggio, the 22nd overall pick in the 1987 Draft, said while attending last year's event. "This has been a great experience -- just like those other sports now. You're talking about a group of young men who are getting a chance to live out their dream. They deserve being showcased, and that's what they have done here now."
The Draft, moved to the MLB Network facilities and into prime time last year after prior stagings at what was then known as Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, again will span three days. For Day 1, MLB Network and MLB.com will provide live pick-by-pick coverage during the first round as well as the first compensation round. The intervals between selections will last five minutes during the first round and one minute during the compensation round. The Draft will resume at noon ET on both Tuesday and Wednesday via conference call from MLB headquarters in New York.
Prior to the start of the Draft, MLB Network will air a preview show, also simulcast on MLB.com, with Greg Amsinger, Harold Reynolds, John Hart, Peter Gammons, MLB.com senior writer Jonathan Mayo and Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis at 6 p.m. ET.
Continuing coverage at the start of Day 2, MLB.com will deliver exclusive live programming of the final two days on MLB.com/Live, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and a searchable database of over 1,500 Draft-eligible players, supplemented by statistics, scouting reports and video highlights.
Last year's Draft took digital participation to a new level. For the first time, the main Draft page featured the live broadcast viewing player, the pick-by-pick app and an embedded Twitter app that featured tabs to sort by Everyone (including you) and MLB Insiders. It was amazing to see war-room tweets coming from official club Twitter accounts, and that instantly popular feature returns even bigger in 2010, making this truly everyone's event. MLB followers are encouraged to include #mlbdraft as the hashtag in any Draft-related tweets through the event.
Once again, each Major League club will be represented at the Draft by a former player and/or a member of its front office. Last year's representatives included Hall of Famers Al Kaline, Tommy Lasorda, Bill Mazeroski and Billy Williams, as well as nearly 20 former All-Stars.
Top amateur prospects have attended the Draft in recent years, including Phillippe Aumount (drafted by the Mariners, now in the Phillies organization as a result of the transactions that sent Roy Halladay to Philadelphia and Cliff Lee to Seattle), Ross Detwiler (Nationals) and Josh Vitters (Cubs) in 2007; Aaron Hicks (Twins) in 2008; and Mike Trout (Angels) in 2009.
In addition to Harper, other players expected to be high picks are James Taillon, a right-handed pitcher from The Woodlands High School near Houston (Kyle Drabek's alma mater); Drew Pomeranz, a southpaw from University of Mississippi; and Manny Machado, a shortstop from Miami Brito High.
Selig was impressed by last year's expansion of the Draft, telling MLB.com after announcing the 2009 picks: "[MLB Network is] the perfect place to do it. It really showcases the channel. Years ago, you didn't announce [picks] until days later. We can do even more to market this event. I know it's great for [MLB Advanced Media], and it's a great day for the Network. I'm glad people can see what we have here."
Last year's first-round choices included Strasburg, the San Diego State product who put up eye-popping numbers in his run-up to one of the most ballyhooed big league debuts in history on Tuesday, and Reds hurler Mike Leake, the eighth overall pick, who became the 21st player to reach the Major Leagues without first playing in the Minors when he debuted in April. Leake is a perfect 5-0 with a 2.22 ERA in his first 11 big league starts. Oh, and he's hitting .417 to boot.
The selection order is determined by the reverse order of finish at the close of the previous season. Compensation picks have been assigned to clubs whose Type A or Type B free agents signed with other clubs and/or went to clubs that did not sign a player who was chosen in the first three rounds of the 2009 Draft.
The Angels have the most first-round selections, with three (18th, 29th and 30th overall), and possess five of the first 40 picks overall. The Astros (eighth and 19th), the Rangers (15th and 22nd) and the Rays (17th and 31st) also hold multiple first-round choices.
The Draft will have 50 rounds and will conclude after all 30 teams have passed on a selection or after the final selection of the 50th round, whichever comes first.