Baseball America

Development Of A Hotbed

Virginia has produced plenty of firsts. America’s first permanent settlement came in Jamestown in 1607. The College of William & Mary opened the nation’s first law school in 1779, started the first educational honor system and founded Phi Beta Kappa. Virginia native George Washington served as the nation’s first president from 1789-97, and seven more presidents have come from the state. In the sports world, NFL franchises have drafted Virginia natives first overall three times: Bill Dudley (1942), Bruce Smith (1985) and Michael Vick (2001) while Ralph Sampson (1984) and Allen Iverson (1996) became No. 1 picks in the NBA draft. Yet for all its firsts and abundant athletic talent, Virginia has never produced the first pick of the baseball draft. Expect that to change this year. Chesapeake’s Justin Upton rates as the favorite to go from Great Bridge High in Chesapeake to the Diamondbacks with the first selection, one pick earlier than his brother B.J. went to the Devil Rays in 2002. Old Dominion righthander Justin Verlander (2004) and James Madison righthander Jay Franklin (1971) give Virginia three No. 2 overall picks in draft history.

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