The SEC is one of the best baseball conferences in the Country, and they were well represented in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft on Monday night. Of the 60 picks that were made in the first and compensatory sandwich rounds, six were from the SEC. Here's a quick rundown, with notes from Baseball Nation.
The first SEC player off the board was Sonny Gray, the ace of the Vanderbilt staff. He went 18th overall to the Oakland Athletics.
Because of his height, there will be questions about Gray until he actually reaches the majors and pitches well, and like most young pitchers he does still need to refine his changeup. So far this season, Gray's struck out 115 college hitters and walked 39 in 108 innings. As well as he's pitched, the A's will probably be tempted to shift him to the bullpen if he doesn't thrive as a starter in his first pro season or two.
Alex Meyer, the towering right-hander from the University of Kentucky was the next one off the board. He went 23rd overall to the Nationals.
Meyer still has command issues at times and doesn't always repeat his mechanics consistently, but his ceiling is one of the best in the draft. He's matured emotionally and how has a strong mound presence.
A lot of people thought that LSU outfielder Mikie Mahtook would go a lot higher than he did. But he still snuck in the first round, going 31st overall to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Mahtook does strike out some, and there's some question about his ability to stick in center field. Reports on his athleticism are mixed; some view him as a guy who is just a slightly above average athlete who might slow down a lot as he ages, while others believe his athleticism is underrated. Everyone agrees he's made huge progress polishing his game during his LSU career.
The remaining SEC players were all taken in the sandwich round, starting with Georgia outfielder Zach Cone, who went with he 37th overall pick to the Rangers.
One of the toolsiest outfielders in the college ranks, but rather raw with the bat. High risk/high reward pick.
Jackie Bradley had a dominant 2010 season at South Carolina, but fell off a little bit in 2011. The Red Sox took a chance on the outfielder with the 40th overall pick.
This could be a steal if Bradley can return to the form he showed in 2010. Was it the new college bats or a bad wrist that hurt his numbers?
The final SEC player taken on Day 1 was another Vanderbilt hurler, Grayson Garvin. He went 59th overall to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Velocity boost pushed his fastball well into the 90s this year despite being overshadowed by other college arms. Not an overdraft here.