Today was the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, held in Winter Haven, Florida. The draft was the first for the Expos under new general manager Tom Grieve. Grieve and the Expos used their first pick, fourth overall, to select left-handed outfielder David Justice from Thomas Moore College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.
Justice, 22, attended Covington Latin high school in northern Kentucky where he graduated at 16 years old. Covington did not even have a baseball team and Justice was forced to play American Legion ball in the summer to hone his baseball skills. After graduating high school, Justice enrolled at Thomas Moore College where he was a star outfielder and occasional first baseman.
At the age of 19 and already having graduated from college, Justice signed on with Pulaski of the Appalacian League where he tied for the league lead in home runs with 10. Justice improved his batting average from .245 with Pulaski to .290 while playing for both Durham and Sumter in '86 and hit a combined 22 home runs. The next two seasons saw Justice spend the majority of his time at Greenville of the Southern League where he hit only .245 with 12 home runs.
Justice signed on with Richmond of the International League late in during this past season where he struggled to a .203 batting average and eight home runs in 227 at bats. However, the potential he showed throughout the low level minor leagues and his intellect shown in graduating high school at 16 led him to considered one of the top prospects in this year's draft. The Expos gambled that that potential will be realized by making him the fourth overall selection.
The Expos' second pick was the seventh pick in the supplemental round which they used to select pitcher John Wetteland. Wetteland is a right-hander that has compiled a 22-15 record and 3.49 ERA the past two years pitching for Vero Beach and San Antonio.
The Expos held the 22nd pick in the second round and used that to select right-handed pitcher Mike Hartley. With the fourth pick in the third round, the Expos selected right-handed pitcher Steve Olin. The Expos used their ourth and fith round picks to select outfielder Marcus Lawton and catcher Tom Magrann, respectively.
Around The League
With the first overall pick in the draft, the Atlanta Braves selected high school phenom Ken Griffey, Jr., the son of Angels first baseman KenGriffey, Sr. Canadian outfielder Larry Walker, who was high on the Expos wish list, was taken with the second pick by San Francisco. Dominican outfielder Sammy Sosa was take with the third pick by San Diego and pitcher Kenny Rogers was taken fifth overall, also by the Padres.
Of note, the Chicago Cubs selected Atlanta Falcons rookie cornerback Deion Sanders with the 25th pick in the first round. Sanders is expected to follow Rangers' left fielder and Oakland Raiders running back Bo Jackson as the only two players to play in the NFL and MLB simultaneously.
Here is a list of the entire first round of the draft:
OF Ken Griffey, Jr - Atlanta Braves
OF Larry Walker - San Francisco Giants
OF Sammy Sosa - San Diego Padres
OF David Justice - Montreal Expos
P Kenny Rogers - San Diego Padres
1B John Olerud - Baltimore Orioles
P Kevin Appier - New York Yankees
C Todd Zeile - Cincinnati Reds
OF Juan Gonzalez - Chicago Cubs
OF Steve Finley - St. Louis Cardinals
3B Robin Ventura - Minnesota Twins
OF Glenallen Hill - Kansas City Royals
OF Greg Vaughn - California Angels
OF Albert Belle - New York Yankees
P Kent Mercker - Texas Rangers
SS Omar Vizquel - New York Yankees
OF Marquis Grissom - Chicago Cubs
3B Dean Palmer - Boston Red Sox
P Andy Benes - San Francisco Giants
OF Geronimo Berroa - Cleveland Indians
P Mike Stanton - Seattle Mariners
C Darrin Fletcher - Toronto Blue Jays
P Wilson Alvarez - New York Yankees
OF Deion Sanders - Chicago Cubs
P Kevin Tapani - Pittsburgh Pirates