It may not be the NBA draft, where practically everyone drafted is in attendance. It may not be the NFL draft, where an entire round's worth of picks shows up at Radio City Music Hall, and it may not be the NHL Draft, where even people drafted as low as the seventh round are seen in attendance.
In the past five years, you could count the number of prospects who attended the MLB draft on one hand. 2007 had the likes of third baseman Josh Vitters (1st round, Cubs) pitcher Phillippe Aumont (1st, Mariners) and pitcher Ross Detwiler (1st, Nationals), 2009 had outfielder Mike Trout (1st, Angels) and 2011 had shortstop Larry Greene (Comp. Phillies).
This year, that number will double as five players have decided to attend the draft, which will be held in MLB Network's Studio 42. According to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, sitting in the replica dugout will be shortstop Carlos Correa of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, shortstop Gavin Cecchini of Alfred M. Barbe High School in Louisiana, outfielder Courtney Hawkins of Carroll High School in Texas, catcher Clint Coulter of Union High School in Washington, and pitcher Andrew Heaney of Oklahoma State University.
Four out of the five are expected to be drafted in the first round. Correa, who has risen up draft boards since the prep baseball season began, is a highly sought after commodity who could find himself going as high as 6th overall. He is the top shortstop in the draft.
Cecchini, the younger brother of Boston Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini, is also a highly rated and toolsy shortstop. Cecchini has the glove to stay as a shortstop and the hitting and base-running ability to be the producer at the middle of any lineup. He is projected to go in the first half of the draft.
Courtney Hawkins is a projectable power hitter who has an above-average arm. He can fit into any lineup and while he is a black and white option (either a hit or a miss) he could potentially find himself playing major league baseball if he develops the right way. Hawkins admitted that he is skipping his high school graduation in order to attend the draft and that he was hoping he would get the call. According to Mayo via Hawkins:
"I see [the Draft] on TV; we've always talked about it," Hawkins said. "But I hadn't gotten a call. I thought they had already invited everybody. A week later, my dad gets a call from [MLB operations executive] Chuck Fox. When I got home, to hear that voicemail that I was officially invited to the MLB Draft, I honestly had tears coming from my eyes."
Clint Coulter is the third-best catcher in the draft, behind Florida's Mike Zunino and Acadiana High School's Stryker Trahan. Coulter has the body and the bat of a hitting catcher. He is projectable 20-30 home run hitter who could find himself going off the board in the compensatory round.
Andrew Heaney is the first collegian to attend the MLB draft. The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year has rocketed up draft boards like Correa and is a projected bottom-half of the first round talent. He has a mid-level fastball, a rare screwball, good control and good command. All he needs is another pitch if he wants to be a starter, but in the bullpen he could contribute a lot.
With these five players deciding to attend the draft, you can tell it is getting more exposure and may soon find itself on the level of other sports drafts. All that needs to be done now is to allow baseball fans to attend the draft. Heck, I'd be willing to take a drive down to Secaucus, NJ.
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