Potential picks get first-round Manhattan treatment
Bus tour, Fan Cave and Yankee Stadium stops among highlights before Draft
NEW YORK -- Clint Frazier was wearing an Angels cap during his big day before Thursday's start of the First-Year Player Draft, not by design but because it was "the first hat I could find" that matched his red-and-white-checkered shirt.
The top available high school prospect, an outfielder from Loganville, Ga., sat on top of a red double-decker, an All-Star Game-decorated "David Wright Bus" that toured Manhattan, and he was informed by the guide about the background of landmarks such as Times Square, the Charging Bull of Wall Street and the new Freedom Tower. But for Frazier, the high point of the ride was not the architecture, it was a conversation with a fellow passenger.
"Just sitting next to Billy McKinney the whole time and talking about the Draft and how he handled some of the hype this year and everything he went through -- I think that was probably the highlight," Frazier said. "Just getting a feel for what someone else was going through. It didn't really matter to him where he got drafted, just the opportunity to play professional baseball and go out and play."
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft will take place tonight through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network tonight at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And you can get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Frazier and McKinney, another high school outfielder, from Plano, Texas, were among nine prospects expected to be drafted in the first round. Also in attendance were East Central Community College infielder Tim Anderson; South Carolina high school catcher Nicholas Ciuffo; high school catcher Jon Denney; Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge; high school infielder J.P. Crawford and high school first baseman Dominic Smith, both products of the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif.
They got the first-round treatment, all right. They went from the bus tour with their families to the MLB Fan Cave for lunch, got an inspirational speech from MLB Network's Harold Reynolds on how to handle their coming fame and careers, and then it was up to Yankee Stadium on a bus for a private tour while the home team is off in Seattle. Then it was out to Secaucus, N.J., for the big night -- at the MLB Network Studio 42 to watch Commissioner Bud Selig read the first-round selections.
"This is just an awesome experience, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I'll never go through again -- assuming I sign," Frazier said. "I had to come up here just because of the feeling I would get once I got drafted, the feeling of walking through the city with my family, spending the last time I have with them."
The previous high for the most players attending a Draft was five, last year's total. Among last year's attendees was the No. 1 overall choice, shortstop Carlos Correa of the Astros organization. Attendees in previous years have included the 2012 American League Rookie of the Year, Angels outfielder Mike Trout (2009); Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks (2008); and Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler (2007).
"Major League Baseball is very pleased with the turnout for this year's Draft," Commissioner Selig said. "We look forward to showing these young men and their families a memorable evening, on such a special occasion in their lives, with the many accomplished baseball figures who will represent our 30 Clubs at MLB Network's Studio 42."
Ciuffo, who led his team to a state title two weeks ago, called the whole treatment "first-class. I would have never thought in a million years that I'd come here and experience this. You have high expectations for coming into the Draft, but this has been an awesome day.
"I've been looking forward to going to Yankee Stadium a lot. I'm friends with Brett Gardner, who's from South Carolina. He always tells us how good things are at Yankee Stadium. I was looking forward to seeing the behind-the-scenes stuff. That's what I like. Everybody sees the field. I like to see the video room, the batting cage, the locker room. Stuff that not a lot of other people get to see."
Sitting next to him during the bus tour was Judge.
"It was great seeing all the sights. I've never been to New York," Judge said, "so it was great just seeing all the architecture, seeing the Freedom Tower. I had a chance to get down to the 9/11 Memorial. It was a great experience. There was so much to remember, I can't tell you everything we saw."
The big night awaited. Judge looked around inside the Fan Cave before his lunch and called it "a dream come true."
"I've been waiting for this my whole life," he said. "Just getting to experience this with my parents, it's a blast. I'm blessed. Thanks to my friends and teammates I've had for getting the opportunity to come here."
With Frazier were his father, Mark, mother, Kim, and sister Taylor Cown, who was here with her husband, Luke.
"This is our first time in New York and they treated us like kings and queens," Mark said.
Kim added of Clint: "He's so ready. He just wants to be with a team that's a good fit."
At Yankee Stadium, all the players and families were herded into a roped-off section of the Yankees' clubhouse. Kim told her son: "Look, there's [Derek] Jeter's locker."
The players stayed as long as possible in the clubhouse, looking on dreamily. All around them were the names of Major Leaguers: Teixeira, Youkilis, Pettitte. The dream grew.
"This makes me want to get drafted even more and make it to the Majors as fast as I can," Frazier said. "I thought we had a nice locker room at our high school."
Smith rubbed the Joe DiMaggio plaque for good luck after the tour went from the clubhouse to Monument Park. Then they returned to the coach bus, went back to their hotel in Secaucus to dress up for the big night, and headed for MLB Network.
"The locker room was amazing," Smith said. "I've been in tons of big league locker rooms, and none as good as that. It's amazing what they've done with the place here. It makes me really want to be a professional baseball player."