MLB Draft 2013: The 8 Biggest Surprises of the 1st Round

Benjamin Klein@BenjaminJKleinContributor IIIJune 7, 2013

MLB Draft 2013: The 8 Biggest Surprises of the 1st Round

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    The first round of the 2013 MLB draft was full of surprising outcomes.

    The biggest surprises were players that went earlier than expected, players who went later than expected and teams that really reached for players who many draft experts didn’t think would even go in the first round.

    Overall, the first round was very exciting, and it’ll be interesting to see these prospects advance through their careers. In the coming years, we’ll be able to talk about which picks were busts, steals and everything in between.

    For now, though, here's what was surprising in the first round. Don’t worry, because there are 39 more rounds of complete uncertainty. 

Cubs Select Kris Bryant with No. 2 Pick

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    Heading into the MLB draft, it was widely expected that the Chicago Cubs would select whomever the Houston Astros didn’t with the first overall pick: either Mark Appel or Jonathan Gray.

    But that didn’t happen. The Astros took Appel, but the Cubs decided to go with hitting instead of pitching. With the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, Chicago took University of San Diego slugger Kris Bryant, bypassing Oklahoma’s ace, Gray.

    ESPN’s Keith Law had Gray and Bryant going No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in his final mock draft (Insider subscription required) and was somewhat surprised that that didn’t happen:

    Minor shocker - Cubs to take Bryant, not Gray

    — keithlaw (@keithlaw) June 6, 2013

    The Cubs have now taken a position player with their top pick three years in a row. Chicago’s future infield could now include Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Bryant—unless Bryant moves to the outfield, and in that case, will join Albert Almora.

    Chicago really lacks top pitching within its system, but the organization clearly felt that taking Bryant over Gray—or another pitching prospect—was the better decision. In just his second year as president of the Cubs, Theo Epstein better hope that it was the right move.

Indians Select Clint Frazier with 5th Overall Pick

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    While it should come as no surprise that Clint Frazier was drafted within the first five picks, it is somewhat unexpected that the Cleveland Indians were the organization that selected him. They’ve been very college-heavy over the years.

    Frazier, a high school outfielder from Georgia, is just the second prep player to get drafted by Cleveland with the organization’s top pick since 2000, shortstop Francisco Lindor being the other prospect.

    ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweeted out what makes Frazier so special:

    Clint Frazier has the best bat speed in the draft #Indians

    — JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) June 6, 2013

    Frazier is also the second straight outfielder to be selected with Cleveland’s top pick after Tyler Naquin was drafted by the Indians with the No. 15 overall pick a year ago. Cleveland’s future outfield is now likely to feature Frazier, Naquin and potentially Michael Bourn or prospect Luigi Rodriguez.

    The Indians made a smart decision selecting Frazier, as they desperately needed to add a top outfielder. If Kris Bryant had still been available, Cleveland likely would’ve selected him and continued their trend of top college prospects. Maybe a new trend will start with Frazier.

Red Sox Take Trey Ball over Austin Meadows

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    In the days leading up the draft, the Boston Red Sox appeared to be considering a pair of prep outfielders: Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows. Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe recently discussed what Boston might do at No. 7.

    Abraham noted a handful of players that Boston could take, predicting that it would be Meadows in the end. As it turned out, Meadows was still on the board, but Boston instead decided to select Trey Ball, a prep left-handed pitcher.

    This was Alex Speier of WEEI’s reaction—and it isn’t sarcasm:

    Trey Ball is the pick in the end - announced as LHP. Stunner.

    — Alex Speier (@alexspeier) June 6, 2013

    Ball is also an outfielder, a position that Boston was looking into prior to the draft, and he could eventually move out there in the future. I personally didn’t see Boston going with him. Keith Law of ESPN had Ball going a pick later in his last mock draft (Insider subscription required).

    Unless Boston turns Ball into a full-time outfielder, the pick doesn’t make a ton of sense. Ball profiles as more of a pitcher than an outfielder and the Red Sox already have solid left-handed talent in their system with Henry Owens, Brian Johnson and Drake Britton.

Royals Reach Very High for Hunter Dozier

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    The Kansas City Royals made the most surprising pick in the draft by far. Instead of taking outfielder Austin Meadows, Kansas City took Hunter Dozier with the No. 8 pick, which was much, much higher that many had expected.

    Here was Mike Axisa of CBS Sports’ initial reaction:


    — Mike Axisa (@mikeaxisa) June 6, 2013

    Not only did ESPN’s Keith Law not have Dozier in the first 10 picks, he didn’t even have him ranked in the top 30 players available in the draft class. I think he was surprised:

    I had Hunter Dozier ranked 38th in this draft class. The Royals just took him 8th.

    — keithlaw (@keithlaw) June 6, 2013

    What’s also interesting is that the Royals were pretty much set on the left side of the infield for the future. Dozier, a shortstop, will now compete with Adalberto Mondesi, Orlando Calixte and Cheslor Cuthbert going forward. The Royals arguably could’ve gotten Dozier in the second round.

Braden Shipley Falls out of Top 10

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    Braden Shipley was widely considered one of the top college pitching prospects in this year’s draft class, but he waited a little bit to get selected.

    Keith Law of ESPN had Shipley as the sixth-best prospect available coming into the draft (Insider subscription required), but he was taken at No. 15, going to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Law had him going sixth to the Miami Marlins in his final mock draft (Insider subscription required).

    Shipley will easily been considered one of the steals of this draft if he pitches as well as many expect him to. Jim Callis of Baseball America thinks Arizona got great value for him:

    Good value for #Diamondbacks at 15 w/Shipley, No. 3 college SP available. #mlbdraft

    — Jim Callis (@jimcallisBA) June 7, 2013

    The right-hander went 7-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 15 starts for Nevada this season. In 107.1 innings of work, he struck out 102 batters while walking 34. Arizona has a lot of great, young pitching talent, and Shipley will be thrown right into the mix in the minor leagues. He could be a top starter for the Snakes in the next few years.

Ryne Stanek Nearly Falls out of 1st Round

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    As prospects continued to hear their names called by commissioner Bud Selig, many were thinking, “What happened to Ryne Stanek?” Stanek was a top pitching prospect entering Thursday’s draft but waited and waited until the Tampa Bay Rays took him with the No. 29 pick.

    ESPN’s Keith Law had Stanek as his 13th-best prospect available in his list of the top 100 (Insider subscription required). He also had the Los Angeles Dodgers taking Stanek with the No. 18 pick in his final mock draft (Insider subscription required). That didn’t happen.

    Here's what JJ Cooper of Baseball America was saying while Stanek was still on the board.

    Ryne Stanek has already fallen at least 10 spots below where projected. By slot looks like it could cost him $750+K

    — JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) June 7, 2013

    For Arkansas this year, Stanek went 10-2 in 16 starts with a 1.39 ERA. In 97.1 innings of work, he struck out 79 batters while walking 41. As Law points out in his list of top prospects, Stanek entered the year as a top-five pick—and in my opinion, his shaky command kept him out of that conversation.

    B/R's MLB Prospects Lead Writer Mike Rosenbaum was certainly surprised at how far Stanek dropped:

    Shocking that Stanek fell so far. #mlbdraft

    — Mike Rosenbaum (@GoldenSombrero) June 7, 2013

    Many mock drafts had Stanek going anywhere from No. 10 to No. 20, but I doubt many thought he would fall as far as No. 29. The Rays got a solid prospect very late.

Christian Arroyo Jumps Up into 1st Round

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    Um, so the San Francisco Giants were basically consensus reachers with the No. 25 pick in the first round, drafting shortstop Christian Arroyo. When commissioner Bud Selig called his named, I’m sure a lot of experts had to check their big boards to see if he was even on it.

    Arroyo was the No. 99 top prospect, according to ESPN’s Keith Law. He didn’t make the cut for B/R’s top 100:

    Wow, #Giants with complete shocker. They take Christian Arroyo with No. 25 pick. Not even in B/R's top 100. #MLBDraft

    — Bleacher Report (@BR_MLB) June 7, 2013

    Shortstop was not a deep position in this year’s draft class, but Arroyo wasn’t close to being one of the best at that position—or he certainly wasn’t one of the top five, needless to say.

    The Giants don’t many solid shortstop prospects, and it was certainly an area where they were focusing on. But it’s tough to think of what general manager Brian Sabean was thinking with this pick. B/R MLB Lead Writer Adam Wells reminds us not to question the Giants, though:

    We can criticize their picks all we want, but the #Giants just hold up those two rings and laugh at us...

    — Adam Wells (@adamwells1985) June 7, 2013

    I guess we’ll have wait and see with Arroyo, but for now, it doesn’t look like a smart move. 

Atlanta Braves Go Outside the Southeast

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    In recent memory, the Atlanta Braves have loved the hometown kids with their top pick in the draft. They’ve taken a player from the Southeast with the first pick five out of the past seven times. The Braves stayed away from that trend in 2013, though, as Jason Hursh of Oklahoma State was taken.

    Hursh, a right-hander, was really expected to go in the first round, but he isn’t a bad pick for Atlanta. They have a lot of solid pitching prospects, and Hursh will just be the next on what’s a somewhat long list.

    Hursh, who is from Texas, is 6-5 with a 2.79 ERA this year in 16 starts. He tossed 106.1 innings over the course of the season for the Cowboys, striking out 86 batters while walking just 28. With such solid command, it comes as no surprise that he went in the first round.

    There is a catch with Hursh, though. He has already had Tommy John surgery in his career. But based on his numbers from this year, he looks to be fully recovered and ready to take on the next challenge in his promising career. Not a bad pick for the Braves, just a non-trendy one.