Staff, wire report
CJ Abrams, who signed a baseball scholarship with Alabama last November, was the No. 6 overall pick in the first round of Monday’s Major League Baseball amateur draft and is expected to sign with the San Diego Padres.
Abrams, who played at Blessed Trinity High School in Alpharetta, Georgia, was the Georgia state high school Player of the Year after hitting .431 in 2019.
The lefty-hitting Abrams was considered by many to be the fastest player in the draft. He batted .418 with eight home runs and 100 RBIs in his high school career.
Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon said in an interview with The Tuscaloosa News last week that he “absolutely expected” that Abrams would be one of the first players chosen in the MLB Draft.
“Our expectations are for him to sign and make millions of dollars and we wish him well,” Bohannon said. “I’ve had a great relationship with CJ and his family and was glad to sign him to show the caliber of player we can attract.”
Adley Rutschman, a switch-hitting Oregon State catcher, was the No. 1 overall pick, going to the Baltimore Orioles.
“It’s unbelievable,” Rutschman said from Goss Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon, shortly after becoming the top pick. “Just to look back on how I was as a kid and seeing what my expectations were, how far I’ve come from there. It’s special.”
The announcement by Commissioner Rob Manfred at MLB Network studios marked the second time the Orioles led off the draft — they took LSU pitcher Ben McDonald in 1989.
“I met with all the teams over the course of the year and knew the Orioles were going to be the first overall,” said Rutschman, a 40th-round pick by Seattle three years ago. “As the year progressed and went along, it looked like it was a possibility more and more. It just worked out that way.”
With the No. 2 choice, the Kansas City Royals grabbed Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., the son of former big league pitcher Bobby Witt.
The younger Witt has draft-day bragging rights on his father, who won 142 games over 16 seasons after being selected No. 3 overall in 1985.
“Now I’ve got him beat,” Bobby Witt Jr. said.
The Witts became the highest-drafted father-son duo, topping Tom Grieve (No. 6, 1966) and Ben Grieve (No. 2, 1994). They are the seventh father-son combination of first-rounders, and first since Delino DeShields (1987) and Delino DeShields Jr. (2010).
“The dreams are kind of turning into reality,” the younger Witt said.
The 21-year-old Rutschman had been the favorite to go first overall since he led Oregon State to the College World Series championship last year and was selected the most outstanding player. He followed that up with a dominant junior season at the plate — and behind it. He hit .411 with a career-best 17 homers to go with 58 RBIs and a school-record 76 walks, and threw out 13 of 27 runners attempting to steal.
University of California slugging first baseman Andrew Vaughn went to the Chicago White Sox with the third pick.
Vaughn batted .381 this season with 15 homers, 50 RBIs and a .544 on-base percentage that ranks among the national leaders. He also showed a terrific eye at the plate and struck out just 74 times in three college seasons.
The 6-foot, 214-pound Vaughn is also looking to become the first repeat winner of the Golden Spikes Award after earning the honor as a sophomore last year.
The Miami Marlins drafted Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday at No. 4, adding the Southeastern Conference player of the year who has a quick, left-handed swing and leads Division I players in home runs with a school-record 26. A finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Bleday is hitting .351 and brings a 42-game on-base streak into next weekend’s super regionals round of the NCAA Tournament.
With the fifth pick, the Detroit Tigers took Florida high school outfielder Riley Greene. Gatorade’s Florida state player of year hit .422 with eight homers, 27 RBIs and 38 runs as arguably the country’s top prep outfielder. He has a smooth left-handed swing that produces consistent line drives.