Aiken Leads CA’s 10 1st Rounders

Brady Aiken, Jacob Gatewood and Alex Jackson headline the 10 California natives taken in the opening round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Photo courtesy of Student Sports

Brady Aiken, Jacob Gatewood and Alex Jackson were part of a party of 10 California natives that crashed the opening round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Photo courtesy of Student Sports

It was a fun first round for those from The Baseball Capital of the World as Californians Brady Aiken started and Jacob Gatewood finished the first round of the MLB Draft on Thursday night.

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For the third time in the last four years the top pick in the Major League Baseball Draft hailed from California, as the Houston Astros selected LHP Brady Aiken from Cathedral Catholic of San Diego with the top pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. Last season, the Astros drafted Mark Appel from Stanford via Monte Vista of Danville.

Aiken is the 13th No. 1 pick from a California high school since the draft began in 1965 and the fourth in the last six years. (Scroll down to see the updated all-time list.)

Of the 13 California players drafted first, Aiken is the eighth overall, and first since Matt Bush in 2004, to be drafted straight out of high school. His selection also broke a streak of five years in a row that a player out of college was the first selection. The last top pick in the MLB Draft straight out of high school was back in 2008 when the Tampa Bay Rays selected Tim Beckham from Griffin, Georgia.

The first three players drafted from the Golden State were all from CIF San Diego Section programs, as four in total were selected before the second round. Six of the 10 California players drafted came straight from high school and all six of them played at the Student Sports-produced Area Code Baseball Games. There were 14 former Area Coders taken in the first round this year from throughout the country.

1. Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego) LHP
“It has been a fun experience and the whole thing has just been crazy,” said Aiken during the MLB Draft telecast. He is the fourth player from the CIF San Diego Section to be drafted first overall. Los Angeles Dodger slugger Adrian Gonzalez, who was one of the other three from San Diego drafted first overall, responded to our tweet about that fact and tweeted back, “SD representing. Congrats to Brady Aiken!”.

6. Alex Jackson (Rancho Bernardo, San Diego) C
“The Mariners would be crazy not to draft Alex Jackson,” said Harold Reynolds during the MLB Draft telecast and the Mariners promptly made him their selection. Going into the draft, Jackson was considered by many to be the top position player in the draft. He was our state freshman and sophomore of the year and was all-state last season.

21. Bradley Zimmer (La Jolla) OF
The third pick in the draft from California was also the third straight pick from the CIF San Diego Section. Zimmer was selected by the Indians after his junior season at the University of San Francisco. Before going to USF, he was a two-time all-county selection with the Vikings.

23. Derek Hill (Elk Grove) OF
After a long wait between the second and third pick from California, we didn’t have to wait as long between number three and four as Hill was taken two slots after Zimmer by the Tigers. Originally from Iowa, he moved to California to focus on baseball and we would say that move has paid off. During the draft broadcast, he was called the best defensive outfielder in the draft class. We received some questions about Hill’s status as among the highest picks ever from a NorCal high school. He didn’t go as high as Derek Lee from El Camino of Sacramento in 1993 (14th overall). No NorCal prep has ever been the No. 1 pick, but in 1978 Lloyd Moseby of Oakland High was the No. 2 overall pick by the Toronto Blue Jays.

25. Matt Chapman (El Toro, Lake Forest) 3B
It’s always interesting to us when the A’s take a guy from California, as he is likely to play right down the street from our Stockton office for the Ports. The A’s drafted this Fullerton Titans junior infielder who hit .429 in 2011 during his senior year at El Toro, where he was a two-time South Coast League honoree.

29. Alex Blandino (St. Francis, Mountain View) SS
Before going to Stanford and being selected by the Reds, he was four-year varsity letterman for the Lancers. As a senior in 2011, Blandino took home multiple honors, including Player of the Year honors from the Mercury News and Palo Alto Daily News. According to his Stanford profile, his 18 career home runs in high school is a St. Francis record. Last fall, two St. Francis players met in the World Series — Daniel Nava for the Red Sox and Daniel Descalso of the Cardinals.

30. Luis Ortiz (Sanger) RHP
There was back-to-back picks from California after this big right hander got plucked by the Rangers right after Blandino. The Apaches didn’t have the best of seasons, but it was Ortiz that was the first pick in this year’s draft from a CIF Central Section program and not Jacob Gatewood from Clovis. He was named MVP of the 18-and-under World Cup in Taiwan last September.

34. Jack Flaherty (Harvard-Westlake, North Hollywood) RHP
The final pick of the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals, Flaherty was a guy we certainly were impressed with during his high school career. He was our 2013 Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year and led the Wolverines to the CIF Southern Section Division I championship that year. He’s a sure-bet finalist for Mr. Baseball once again in 2014 as he finished his high school career undefeated on the mound.

Competitive Balance Round A

39. Connor Joe (Poway) OF
The Pirates made Joe the fourth pick from the CIF San Diego Section. He was the West Coast Conference Player of the Year as a junior at the University of San Diego. For coach Bob Parry at Poway, he hit eight home runs and was an All-Palomar League selection as a senior in 2011.

41. Jacob Gatewood (Clovis) SS
The final pick before round two led the Cougars to a CIF Central Section Division I championship and is no stranger to those on the national level after winning the junior portion of the MLB All-Star Game Home Run Derby last year at Citi Field. It will be interesting to see if he signs with the Brewers or heads to USC because he was taken lower than many credible draft projections predicted.

No. 1 Overall Picks in the MLB Draft
From California High Schools

2014 – Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego) LHP by Astros
2013 – Mark Appel (Monte Vista, Danville) RHP by Astros
2011 – Gerrit Cole (Lutheran, Orange) RHP by Pirates
2009 – Stephen Strasburg (West Hills, Santee) RHP by Nationals
2004 – Matt Bush (Mission Bay, San Diego) SS by Padres
2003 – Delmon Young (Camarillo) OF by Devil Rays
2000 – Adrian Gonzalez (Eastlake, Chula Vista) 1B by Marlins
1998 – Pat Burrell (Bellarmine Prep, San Jose) OF by Phillies
1992 – Phil Nevin (El Dorado, Placentia) 3B by Astros
1980 – Darryl Strawberry (Crenshaw, Los Angeles) OF by N.Y. Mets
1969 – Jeff Burroughs (Wilson, Long Beach) OF by Senators
1968 – Tim Foli (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) SS by N.Y. Mets
1966 – Steve Chilcott (Antelope Valley, Lancaster) C by N.Y. Mets

Mark Tennis and Ronnie Flores contributed to this report.

Paul Muyskens is our Stockton office assistant. He can be reached at Paul_Muyskens@yahoo.com. Make sure to follow us on Twitter: @CalHiSports


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