No college has ever produced back-to-back No. 1 overall picks in the annual Major League Baseball Draft.
Vanderbilt might become the first this week.
Commodores third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who recently completed his junior season, is projected by some analysts to be picked No. 1 by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when the draft begins Thursday.
Baseball America lists Alvarez, a New York City native, as the No. 1 prospect available for this week’s draft.
A year ago, Tampa Bay drafted former Vanderbilt pitcher David Price No. 1 overall. He is currently pitching for the team’s Class A affiliate in Vero Beach, Fla.
If the Devil Rays pass on Alvarez in the No. 1 slot Thursday, he isn’t expected to be available for long. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported this week the Pittsburgh Pirates are targeting Alvarez and hope he drops into their No. 2 spot in the draft.
Alvarez is represented by agent Scott Boras, a well-known and hard-line negotiator who reportedly is seeking a $7 million signing bonus for is client.
Alvarez currently ranks in a tie for first place in career home runs at Vanderbilt with 49. He missed 23 games during the 2008 season with a hand injury and batted .317 with nine home runs.
He was named National Freshman of the Year in 2006 and was a consensus All-America pick in 2007.
Another Vanderbilt junior expected to be to drafted in a favorable position this week is shortstop Ryan Flaherty, who led the Commodores with 14 home runs this year while batting .324.
Baseball America rates Flaherty as the nation’s No. 68 overall prospect available for this week’s draft.
VU junior pitcher Brett Jacobson is also a likely draft choice this week. Although he finished the 2008 season with a 5.09 earned-run average, Jacobson was an 11th-round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school in 2005 and is still regarded as having pro potential. Baseball America ranks him No. 159 among draft-eligible prospects nationally.
Vanderbilt seniors hoping to be drafted this week include outfielders Dominic de la Osa, David Macias and Jonathan White and catcher Shea Robin.
De la Osa was drafted in the 10th round last year by the Detroit Tigers after earning All-America honors, but he chose to return to Vanderbilt for his senior year.
De la Osa struggled in 2008, batting .297 with 10 home runs after hitting .378 with 20 home runs in 2007. Will his dip in production damage his draft stock this time around?
Macias led the Commodores in 2008 with a .356 batting average while playing superbly in center field.
The speedy White, a part-time player, was drafted in the 24th round by the Milwaukee Brewers last season but returned to Vanderbilt. Robin hit .309 this year while emerging as one of the top defensive catchers in the SEC.
Eight Vanderbilt players were selected in the 2007 draft.
THE BIG 10
The nation’s top 10 prospects for this week’s Major League Draft as ranked by Baseball America:
1. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt
2. Brian Matusz, P, San Diego
3. Tim Beckham, SS, Griffin [Ga.] High
4. Buster Posey, C, Florida State
5. Aaron Crow, P, Missouri
6. Gordon Beckham, SS, Georgia
7. Eric Hosmer, 1B, American Heritage High, Plantation, Fla.
8. Justin Smoak, 1B, South Carolina
9. Kyle Skipworth, C, Patriot High, Rubidoux, Calif.
10. Tanner Scheppers, P, Fresno State