The 2015 MLB draft kicked off Monday night in Secaucus, New Jersey, by welcoming the next crop of exciting young talent into professional baseball.
In this article, we will be tracking and grading all 36 picks made during the first round, as well as offering some analysis on the key talking points that resonated after the opening stanza.
A talent pool that is said to be relatively thin is still capable of providing huge talent for all 30 MLB clubs. The star power is minute, but there are plenty of high-potential guys to be found up and down this board.
Here is every selection of Round 1, with instant grades for each pick.
|2015 MLB Draft|
|1||Arizona Diamondbacks||Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt||A|
|2||Houston Astros||Alex Bregman, SS, LSU||B+|
|3||Colorado Rockies||Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary High School (FL)||A-|
|4||Texas Rangers||Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara||A-|
|5||Houston Astros||Kyle Tucker, OF, Plant High School (FL)||A|
|6||Minnesota Twins||Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois||A|
|7||Boston Red Sox||Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas||B+|
|8||Chicago White Sox||Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt||A|
|9||Chicago Cubs||Ian Happ, OF, Cincinnati||B-|
|10||Philadelphia Phillies||Cornelius Randolph, SS, Griffin High School (GA)||C-|
|11||Cincinnati Reds||Tyler Stephenson, C, Kennesaw Mountain High School (GA)||A|
|12||Miami Marlins||Josh Naylor, 1B, St. Joan of Arc Catholic (Canada)||C|
|13||Tampa Bay Rays||Garrett Whitley, OF, Niskayuna HS (NY)||A|
|14||Atlanta Braves||Kolby Allard, LHP, San Clemente High School (CA)||A|
|15||Milwaukee Brewers||Trenton Clark, OF, Richland High School (TX)||A-|
|16||New York Yankees||James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA||B+|
|17||Cleveland Indians||Brady Aiken, IMG Academy (FL)||A+|
|18||San Francisco Giants||Phil Bickford, RHP, College of Southern Nevada||C+|
|19||Pittsburgh Pirates||Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona||B|
|20||Oakland Athletics||Richie Martin, SS, Florida||A|
|21||Kansas City Royals||Ashe Russell, RHP, Cathedral High School (IN)||A|
|22||Detroit Tigers||Beau Burrows, RHP, Weatherford High School (TX)||C+|
|23||St. Louis Cardinals||Nick Plummer, OF, Brother Rice High School (MI)||A|
|24||Los Angeles Dodgers||Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt||A|
|25||Baltimore Orioles||DJ Stewart, OF, Florida State||A|
|26||Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||Taylor Ward, C, Fresno State||C+|
|27||Colorado Rockies||Mike Nikorak, RHP, Strousdburg High School (PA)||A-|
|28||Atlanta Braves||Michael Soroka, RHP, Bishop Carroll High School (Canada)||A-|
|29||Toronto Blue Jays||Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State||A+|
|30||New York Yankees||Kyle Holder, SS, University of San Diego||A-|
|31||San Francisco Giants||Chris Shaw, OF, Boston College||A-|
|32||Pittsburgh Pirates||Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Concordia Lutheran High School (TX)||B+|
|33||Kansas City Royals||Nolan Watson, RHP, Lawrence North High School (IN)||A-|
|34||Detroit Tigers||Christin Stewart, OF, Tennessee||A|
|35||Los Angeles Dodgers||Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville||A+|
|36||Baltimore Orioles||Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Hagerty High School (FL)||A-|
Three Shortstops Open the Draft for First Time Ever
There was plenty of speculation as to who would separate himself enough to earn the top pick in the draft, and it turned out to be Vanderbilt superstar shortstop Dansby Swanson.
Not to be outdone, Alex Bregman out of LSU and high school phenom Brendan Rodgers went quickly afterward, forming the first shortstop triumvirate to kick off an MLB draft in league history.
Swanson, the 2014 College World Series MVP, turned more than a few heads this year, including that of his own head coach, according to Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com.
"The thing that is noticeable about Dansby and guys like him who play at that level, is that they rise to another level when things matter," Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. "When something is on the line or there is a moment, he thrives in it. He's got an extra gear. … He has that ability in so many different ways."
The selections of Bregman and Rodgers, while hardly shocking, were still noteworthy.
The Houston Astros just called up 2012 No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa, who is expected to lock down the shortstop position for them. Obviously, it is a ways away, but where does Bregman factor into the equation with Correa and All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve up the middle? Not a bad problem to have.
Rodgers provides exceptional upside at the No. 3 spot for the Colorado Rockies, but a healthy Troy Tulowitzki is still the best shortstop in the league. Colorado obviously saw Rodgers as a talent too good to pass up, but it still raises questions regarding Tulo's future.
Kicking off the draft with three shortstops could be a breath of fresh air at the position. The current state of shortstops around the league is extremely weak. This is certainly not the golden era of the late 1990s-early 2000s with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra bursting onto the scene. Maybe these three youngsters can dial back the clock.
Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies Provide Lone Top-10 Surprises
Things were going smoothly, as the first eight picks went about as most predicted, until the Cubs and Phillies decided to shake things up.
Chicago continued to add to its unfathomably large stable of incredible hitting prospects by going with Ian Happ. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com had some high praise for the junior out of Cincinnati.
"Happ ranked as the top position prospect in the prestigious Cape Cod League in each of his two summers in college," he said. "A switch-hitter who's better from the left side of the plate, he has good balance and controls the strike zone well. Add in some deceptive strength, and he should hit for average and power."
Happ has drawn comparisons to Ben Zobrist and Jason Kipnis, and he features an incredibly advanced approach at the plate. Whether he settles in as an outfielder or infielder remains to be seen, but he displays some of the versatility that the Cubs regime loves.
Fellow stud prospects Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Arismendy Alcantara all performed at various positions for Chicago. It clearly goes for high-impact offensive talent and worries about where guys will fit in later. Great athletes should be able to play anywhere.
Happ may have been a slight reach at No. 9, but you cannot argue with his offensive upside. Cubs fans will enjoy him for a long time.
As for the No. 10 slot, Philly reached hard for Cornelius Randolph, the shortstop prospect out of Griffin High School in Georgia. Randolph was selected high strictly due to his bat. It is unlikely he will stick at shortstop in the majors.
Randolph was a risk at No. 10 with safer high school bats on the board. Tyler Stephenson, Trenton Clark and Daz Cameron were all still on the board.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports is one person who is high on Randolph's hit tools.
The Phillies are desperate for high-ceiling talent due to their weak farm system. Randolph could be a stud, but he was certainly a surprise at No. 10. They ought to be commended for taking such a big swing.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Are Big Winners of the First Round
The rich get richer.
With pick No. 24, the Dodgers went with Vanderbilt pitcher Walker Buehler, who could have easily gone much higher. Buehler is seen as a low-floor prospect with tremendous polish and a deep repertoire. Baseball America had this to say about the athletic righty:
At his best, Buehler has four above-average offerings. He throws his fastball in the low to mid 90s, though it doesn't have a ton of life. His curveball and slider both show promise and he has a good feel for spinning the baseball, but they run together at times. He gets good fading action on his changeup. Scouts have more confidence that Buehler will be able to remain in the rotation thanks to his deep arsenal, athleticism and more polished delivery.
This selection was a home run for the Dodgers. Getting this kind of value late in the first round deserves high praise. The Dodgers are in firm "win-now" mode, and being able to add this kind of college arm could give them a devastating rotation in a few years.
But wait, there's more!
Kyle Funkhouser out of Louisville was once in play for the top overall pick, but a brief slump worried scouts. There were also questions about his signability due to being a Scott Boras client, but as Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register pointed out, that has not deterred LA in the past.
Seeing Funkhouser slide down the draft board wasn't a huge surprise, but it was shocking to see him slip all the way to No. 35. The Dodgers got an absolute steal with each of their first-round selections and now have two new high-caliber right-handers to add to their stable of young talent.
Justin Hussong is a Featured Columnist/Breaking News Writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @Hussington.