SECAUCUS, N.J.—Hello there, Mike Schmidt. Oh, there's John Smoltz.
There's a wall in MLB Network's headquarters that's signed by all the Hall of Famers who have come through, and several will be around for tonight's broadcast of the draft, which comes on the 50th anniversary of the first draft, back on June 8, 1965. Ken Griffey Jr. is expected to come through, and Pedro Martinez already contributed breakdowns of several of the pitchers who are expected to be among the first 75 picks.
It's a sign of how far the draft has come, a long way since 1997, my first draft at BA, when Allan Simpson had to piece the draft around numerous sources because MLB did not release the full draft list until much later. In 2002, I was fortunate enough to help host the draft when it streamed online for the first time, just as a conference call. Baby steps.
Now the draft is a TV show, and this might be the last time it is held at MLB Network's studios. Plans for 2016 are far from set, but MLB intends to make the draft a bigger deal and wants to bring it to fans. Perhaps it will move to Omaha, site of the College World Series. It would be a BA dream to put two of our favorite events together like that.
But it might make more sense for MLB to move the draft to the All-Star break. The draft could take place without other games being played, it could move from site to site with the All-Star Game, and the infrastructure from an event and TV perspective would be well in place.
On to late-developing rumors for the 2015 draft, starting with helium guys compared to where they rank on the BA 500:
• The college shortstop field is crowded, but the defensive improvements of Louisiana-Lafayette's Blake Trahan have moved him into first-round consideration. Nick Punto remains a frequent comparison for Trahan, but the Ragin' Cajuns junior has shown more power than Punto, and scouts increasingly like his chances of staying at shortstop. He could pop up in the back of the first round.
• Lefthander Matt Hall of Missouri State already was moving into 4-6 round consideration before his strong finish, which included a one-hit victory at Arkansas in the super regional. With plenty of scouting heat in to see teammate Jon Harris and Razorbacks outfielder Andrew Benintendi over the weekend, Hall impressed, hitting 90-91 mph at times with his fastball and showcasing command of his plus curveball. He's a candidate to go in the first three rounds as a potential fast-moving lefty reliever for teams that want him in that role.
• Among the high school crop, three names on the move into the first round range appear to be Canadian first-rounder Josh Naylor, whose power display during a Team Canada junior national trip of then Dominican Republic impressed scouts; Texas prep infielder Ke'Bryan Hayes, son of ex-big leaguer Charlie Hayes; and righthander Triston McKenzie, the lean, lanky Palm Beach County product in Florida.