Photo: Vanderbilt Athletics

Shortstops go 1-2-3 in MLB Draft

Draft : : Story
Jeff Dahn        
Published: Monday, June 08, 2015

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Three impact shortstops, including two alumni of both the Perfect Game All-American Classic and PG National Showcase, were selected with the first three overall picks in the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft during ceremonies Monday night at MLB Network studios in New York.

The Arizona Diamondbacks chose Vanderbilt junior shortstop Dansby Swanson with the first pick of the draft. The Houston Astros, picking second as compensation for not signing 2014 first-round pick Brady Aiken, followed by selecting Louisiana State junior shortstop and 2011 PG All-American Alex Bregman. The Colorado Rockies then made it a clean sweep for shortstops when they chose Florida prep and 2014 PG All-American Brendan Rodgers with the No. 3 pick.

Swanson helped lead Vanderbilt to the 2014 College World Series title and NCAA Division I National Championship and has been one of the most productive offensive players in the country. He hit a home run and a double in Vandy’s 4-2 Super Regional championship clinching victory Monday to send the Commodores back to Omaha for a second straight year.

As a high school player growing up in Kennesaw, Ga., Swanson was active playing with the East Cobb Baseball organization and competed in 10 PG WWBA Championships and PG BCS Finals tournaments between 2007 and 2012. He feels those experiences with ECB – especially two summers (2011-2012) spent with the East Cobb Yankees – helped him prepare for the college game.

“Everything was just very professionally done; the coaches are incredible,” Swanson told PG in January. “It set me up as far as knowing what to expect and learning how to get into a routine. I’ve been used to playing a lot of games every year ever since I started playing baseball so that’s never been an issue, but as far as the mentality and the routines, the summer ball was definitely a huge help.”

The Rockies selected Swanson in the 38
th round of 2012 MLB Amateur Draft, but he didn’t sign, opting to head for Nashville instead. It turned out to be a very profitable decision.

After a smashing freshman season at LSU in 2013, Bregman, who hails from Albuquerque, N.M., was named a First-Team All-American by Perfect Game and several other media outlets as well as National Freshman of the Year by various outlets. The Tigers advanced to the College World Series that season and with Bregman having another First-Team All-American season in 2015, the Bayou Bengals will be back in Omaha this weekend.

Bregman played in three PG WWBA tournaments in 2011 and was also selected for participation in the PG National Showcase and the PG All-American Classic that summer. Four players who were with Bregman at both the 2011 PG National Showcase and PG All-American Classic have made their major league debuts this spring: Lance McCullers and Carlos Correa with the Houston Astros, Addison Russell with the Chicago Cubs and Joey Gallo with the Texas Rangers.

“You (had the opportunity) to compete against some of the best players in the country, and it definitely gets (your name) out there,” Bregman said of his PG experiences during an April telephone conversation. “I thought it was very beneficial, I thought it was fun – it was a blast, really – and there were some great coaches there. Also, it was great to learn from some of the best players in the country and to go out there and compete against them as hard as you can and just lay it all there; I loved it.”

One person not the least bit surprised to hear Bregman’s name called so early Monday night was LSU hall-of-fame head coach Paul Mainieri, who has watched seven of his former LSU players reach the big leagues. Bregman was 29
th-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2012 but decided to head to Baton Rouge.

“I’ve never been more confident in my life of a ballplayer making it to the major leagues and succeeding at the major league level,” Mainieri told PG in April when asked about Bregman’s future. “Any major league organization that doesn’t think this kid can play shortstop in the big leagues is selling this kid short. He can play shortstop in the major leagues and play it really well.”

Rodgers, who is from Longwood, Fla., has occupied a prominent chair at PG’s class of 2015 prospects’ table throughout his high school career. He debuted at No. 44 in the national prospect rankings published Sept. 4, 2012, early in his sophomore year at Lake Mary High School, and was up to No. 10 a year later when the rankings were updated on Sept. 18, 2013. Two months later he had risen to No. 2 behind only Dazmon Cameron and then leaped-frogged to No. 1 in the Sept. 1, 2014, rankings.

While playing for the Orlando Scorpions and owner and head coach Matt Gerber at the 2013 PG WWBA Florida Qualifier in Fort Myers, it was becoming increasingly obvious that Rodgers was in possession of an outstanding skillset, both at the plate and at shortstop.

“Brendan is probably the most talented player that we’ve had this stage of development since I’ve been doing this,” Gerber told PG at that event. “He can play a premium position at shortstop and stay there, he hits for power, he’s got a plus arm – he’s pretty special.”

Rodgers has signed with Florida State but it seems unlikely he will be in Tallahassee later this summer. Interestingly enough, however, the expectation that he’ll sign professionally wasn’t on his mind before last June’s PG National Showcase.

“My main focus is getting to college first,” he told PG at the time. “Obviously, the draft is something on my mind and if I keep playing hard and well as a team player … hopefully that will be a choice one day.”

He can consider it done.



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