The longest draft among the major North American sports leagues, Major League Baseball's selection process lasts 40 rounds. It began Thursday night with the Houston Astros selecting left-hander Brady Aiken out of Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, and it concluded Saturday with the St. Louis Cardinals choosing right-hander Davis Ward from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas as the 1,215th pick.
In between, Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was drafted by the San Diego Padres, and the sons of Cal Ripken Jr. and Mariano Rivera were selected.
A team-by-team recap of the draft:
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
The Diamondbacks could not believe their good fortune when high school RHP Touki Toussaint was available with their first-round pick, No. 16 overall. They had him rated as one of the draft's top five pitchers, and they were certain he would be gone by the time they selected. Toussaint struck out 86 in 45 innings at Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian Academy this season. He has signed a letter-of-intent to attend Vanderbilt, but the D-backs don't believe that will be an issue. Arizona took pitchers with 28 of its 42 picks, selecting Ardmore (Okla.) High LHP Cody Reed in the second round.
LHP Kyle Freeland, a Denver native who went to the University of Evansville, was the eighth overall pick in the draft. He throws a 90-93 mph fastball with a slider his best secondary pitch. In Competitive Balance Round A, the Rockies made Forest Wall from Orangewood (Fla.) Christian School the 35th overall pick and the highest-drafted high school second baseman since the draft went to one phase in 1987. Wall has had two shoulder injuries. He runs very well, has a consistent left-handed swing and projects to be an offensive second baseman. The Rockies selected 22 pitchers, 16 right-handers and six left-handers, plus three catchers, 11 infielders and four outfielders.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Picking 22nd overall, the Dodgers drafted RHP Grant Holmes from Conway (S.C.) High School. He has a mid-90s fastball and the best curveball among all high school pitchers in the draft and a developing changeup. In the second round, the Dodgers took OF Alex Verdugo, who throws left-handed and is a two-way player from Sahuaro (Ariz.) High School. He is a better prospect as a pitcher but loves to hit, so the Dodgers will give him a chance to play center field. The Dodgers drafted 21 pitchers, including six with their first 10 picks. Los Angeles selected a pitcher with its first pick in 11 of the past 12 years.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Although San Diego was criticized for taking former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in the 28th round (purists believe it was far too high for a fun pick), the Padres believe their overall draft was solid. SS Trea Turner of North Carolina State at 13th overall and Georgia high school CF Michael Gettys (51st overall) could be steals, and they add speed and athleticism up the middle. After taking position players in seven of the first 11 rounds to address a clear need, the Padres drafted 13 straight pitchers. Overall, they went heavily with college over high school. They believe UC Riverside SS Nick Vitter (ninth round) and Georgia high school RHP Justin Lewis (19th round) could be finds.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The Giants leaned heavily toward older players in the draft, picking 25 college players among their 40 selections, including their top three selections (Vanderbilt first-rounder Tyler Beede, Florida International catcher Aramis Garcia and Oregon State right fielder Dylan Davis). Beede, who is headed to the College World Series with the Commodores, didn't sign in 2011 after the Toronto Blue Jays made him the 21st overall pick. Three years later, he moved up seven slots. "He's someone who, I hate to set timetables on, has a chance of moving quickly," Giants assistant general manager John Barr said.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Despite taking a catcher with their first pick of the draft, the Cubs focused their draft strategy on pitching -- lots of it. With the fourth overall selection, the Cubs selected Indiana's Kyle Schwarber. Ten of the team's next 11 picks were pitchers, highlighted by the ACC's strikeout leader, Maryland's Jake Stinnett, who was taken in the second round with the 45th overall selection. Overall, the Cubs selected 21 pitchers -- four of whom were left-handers. Chicago took high school pitchers in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds (LHPs Carson Sands and Justin Steele and RHP Dillon Cease).
The Reds selected RHP Nick Howard with the team's first pick (19th overall) in the draft. Howard, a converted third baseman/shortstop, started and closed during his career at the University of Virginia. His fastball velocity jumped to 97-98 mph in short relief. The Reds expect him to start. With the 29th selection in the first round, the Reds took Stanford power-hitting SS Alex Blandino. Cincinnati selected 23 pitchers, including eight left-handers, four catchers, four third baseman, two second baseman, two first baseman, four outfielders, and two shortstops in the draft.
The Brewers went for high-upside high school players with their first three picks, as they selected left-handed pitcher Kodi Medeiros from Hilo, Hawaii, at No. 12 overall; power-hitting shortstop Jacob Gatewood from Clovis, Calif., at No. 41; and toolsy outfielder Monte Harrison from Lee's Summit, Mo., at No. 50. Milwaukee paid over slot in signing Gatewood and Harrison for $1.8 million each. The Brewers drafted 28 pitchers, including 22 in their last 30 selections. Right-hander Jason Yamamoto, a high school pitcher from Honolulu, was picked in the 12th round after beating Medeiros in the Hawaii state playoffs.
Many analysts criticized the Pirates' draft, especially the first two picks -- Phoenix high school SS Cole Tucker at No. 24 overall and University of San Diego OF Connor Joe at No. 39. Both players were generally considered third-round talents. The Pirates' 42 selections were split almost evenly with 22 pitchers and 20 position players, but the organization leaned heavily toward experience with 33 college players as opposed to nine high school players. One intriguing pick was Kent State RHP Eric Dorsch in the 15th round. He is a Pittsburgh native who stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 270 pounds.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
The Cardinals showed a tendency to target collegiate arms in the draft, starting with the club's first selection, Florida State University RHP Luke Weaver. This shouldn't be viewed as surprising, as the organization drafted college arms with its first pick in the two previous years, as well. In all, St. Louis took 23 pitchers with its 42 picks and 33 college players in total, choosing to go with more polished players over raw and big upside high schoolers. RHP Trevor Megill, selected in the third round out of Loyola Marymount University, is considered to be a tough sign and someone who will be seeking more money than his recommended slot value.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Atlanta selected a big-time high school hitting prospect, Broxton Davidson from Asheville (N.C.) T.C. Roberson High, with its first selection, the 32nd pick overall. Baseball America rated Davidson as the No. 2 first baseman available in the draft, but with All-Star Freddie Freeman entrenched there, the Braves will start Davidson in the outfield. RHP Garrett Fulenchek, a former basketball player from Howe, Texas, (pop. 5,000) has a sinking fastball that had touched 95 mph. He was one of 19 pitchers selected by the pitching-conscious Braves. INF Luke Dykstra, taken in the seventh round, is the son of former major-leaguer Lenny Dykstra.
The Marlins selected high school RHP Tyler Kolek with the second overall pick. The 6-foot-5, 270-pounds Kolek will make a formidable pairing with Marlins' top prospect, LHP Andrew Heaney, who was drafted in 2012. From there, the team turned its attention to needs outside of pitching, specifically shortstop, where there is a dearth of talent in the organization's farm system. Miami used four of its top 10 picks on the position -- three from high school and one from University of Arkansas.
NEW YORK METS
Although the Mets selected 23 pitchers with their 39 picks, they went with position players at the top. Oregon State OF Michael Conforto, a power and on-base threat, was the 10th overall pick, and the Mets added Florida high school SS Milton Ramos in the third round and El Paso Community College 3B Eudor Garcia-Pacheco in the fourth round. Mets director of amateur scouting Tommy Tanous told the New York Daily News about Conforto, "He has very few weaknesses as a hitter right now."
The Phillies selected RHP Aaron Nola with the seventh pick in the first round. The LSU junior went 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 116 1/3 innings over 16 starts. Nola was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2011 draft but did not sign. He was among 23 pitchers selected by the Phillies, including six left-handers. Philadelphia went heavy on college players with just 10 high school players selected among the 40 picks. The Phillies chose six outfielders, four catchers, three shortstops, two second baseman, a first baseman and third baseman.
The Nationals concentrated on pitching in the draft, taking five in the first six rounds and 21 overall (seven left-handers and 14 right-handers). Washington chose UNLV Erick Fedde with the 18th overall pick even though he underwent Tommy John surgery last week. He was projected to be a top-10 pick before the surgery. Perhaps the pick that excites the Nationals more than most is C Jakson Reetz, a high school product from Norris, Neb., who was selected in the third round. In the 15th round, Washington selected 1B Ryan Ripken, the son of Cal Ripken Jr., out of Indian River State College in Florida.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Houston selected LHP Brady Aiken with the first overall pick in the draft, one of only prep players selected by the Astros among their 41 picks. The four high-schoolers chosen are the fewest in any draft in franchise history. The Astros selected 21 pitchers in all, including six lefties, and added 11 infielders and four catchers to the mix. The Astros think Derek Fisher from the University of Virginia, the first of six outfielders taken by Houston, has a chance to be special. Fisher, the team's second-round pick, has power and speed, hitting .290 at Virginia with 30 doubles, 12 triples, 17 home runs and 121 RBIs in three seasons.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS