Houston went all the way to the wire before making a historic selection.
The Astros etched a milestone for their sport and their franchise Monday by selecting prep infielder Carlos Correa with the first pick of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, signalling both the highest pick out of Puerto Rico and from one of Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academies.
Correa, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 190 pounds, has been described as an athletic infielder with a chance to hit for power down the line. Correa hadn't been billed as a potential top pick in the days before the Draft, but industry buzz had him going as one of the top five selections.
"It means a lot to me. It's history, man," said Correa. "I'm the first Puerto Rican to be selected with the first pick. I just feel happy. I'm only 17 years old, but I've just worked hard and my father was always there with me, helping me out and throwing with me every day. ... All the sacrifices pay off." Houston hadn't picked first overall since taking Phil Nevin with the top pick in 1992. And prior to Correa -- who was selected with countryman and recent retiree Ivan Rodriguez in attendance -- the highest-drafted Puerto Rican player had been Ramon Castro with the No. 17 pick in 1994. General manager Jeff Luhnow, making his first pick at the top of Houston's organization, said that the Astros didn't completely zero in on Correa until right before they handed in their selection.
"Within the hour," he said of when he settled on Correa. "Before we made the decision, we had certainly been considering him and others up until that point. But it was sort of a last-minute decision."
The Twins picked after Houston, and they snapped up one of the Draft's most electrifying talents in outfielder Byron Buxton. Buxton, a former prep football star, is regarded as a potential two-way talent in baseball, and he can throw a fastball that reportedly reaches as high as 99 mph.
Minnesota liked Buxton as a position player, though, and he'll join an organization that has produced outfielders like Denard Span, Ben Revere and Aaron Hicks in recent seasons. Buxton had been in the mix to be the Draft's first selection, and the Twins assured that he wouldn't drop too far.
"This kid has all the tools at the high end of the scale," one scout said of Buxton. "You can put whatever you want on his tool set."
The Mariners nabbed power-hitting catcher Mike Zunino out of the University of Florida with the third pick, a choice that preceded the Draft's first run on pitching. Zunino, the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, bears a similar pedigree to Jeff Clement, Seattle's first pick in 2005.
Baltimore took the first pitcher of the Draft by taking power right-hander Kevin Gausman out of Louisiana State University. Gausman logged an 11-1 record with a 2.72 ERA in 16 starts as a Draft-eligible sophomore, and he struck out nearly five times as many batters (128) as he walked (27).
Kansas City followed by taking Kyle Zimmer -- a right-handed pitcher out of the University of San Francisco -- with the fifth overall pick. Zimmer, a junior from La Jolla, Calif., logged a 5-3 record with a 2.85 ERA in 13 starts this season, and he registered 104 strikeouts against just 17 walks this season.
Mark Appel, considered by many to be one of the top candidates to be the top pick in the Draft, found himself on the outside of the top five selections. Appel, a right-handed pitcher from Stanford, may have seen his status affected by signability concerns and the league's new Draft rules.
The Cubs also bypassed Appel and went back to the prep well with the sixth overall pick, drafting outfielder Albert Almora out of Mater Academy in Hialeah, Fla. Almora is regarded as a skilled all-around talent with an off-the-charts work ethic that makes his ability play up a notch or two.
The Padres continued the prep theme by selecting left-handed pitcher Max Fried out of Harvard Westlake High School in California with the seventh pick in the Draft. Fried -- who played on the same team as fellow prospect Lucas Giolito -- will have to be swayed out of a commitment to UCLA.
Appel finally went off the board with the eighth overall selection, and he'll join Pittsburgh's arm-heavy collection of prospects. The Pirates drafted Gerrit Cole out of UCLA with the top selection last season, and one year before that, they took Jameson Taillon with the second choice in the Draft.
The top 10 concluded with Miami selecting southpaw Andrew Heaney out of Oklahoma State and Colorado picking prep outfielder David Dahl. The top 10 was evenly split with five pitchers and five position players, and also with five prep players and five from four-year universities.
With the 11th overall pick, the A's strayed from the college pool and plucked prep infielder Addison Russell out of Florida's Pace High School. The first-round high school selection marked Oakland's first since 2001, when the organization drafted Jeremy Bonderman.
The Draft's first notable bloodline came with the 12th overall selection, when the Mets selected prep shortstop Gavin Cecchini. Cecchini's older brother, Garin, had been drafted by Boston with a fourth-round selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, setting the precedent for Gavin.
The younger Cecchini attended a game at Citi Field last week and got to meet several of his prospective future teammates, and he said he wasn't upset that he won't be joining his brother.
"They picked really low, and I knew I was probably going to be off the board by then," he said. "If the Mets would've passed me and other team's would've passed me and I would've gotten picked by Boston, it would've been awesome to play with my brother. But I want to be here in New York."
Another one of the Draft's attendees -- prep outfielder Courtney Hawkins -- was picked by the White Sox with the 13th selection and punctuated the moment with a back flip. Cincinnati followed that pick by nabbing prep pitcher Nick Travieso, and Cleveland took power-hitting outfielder Tyler Naquin.
Giolito, sidelined for much of his senior season by a strained ligament in his pitching elbow, was selected 16th overall by Washington. Prior to his injury, Giolito was thought to have a chance to be the first high-school right-hander ever selected with the top pick in the First-Year Player Draft.
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