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Tuesday, June 4
Updated: June 5, 10:08 PM ET
Bullington first pitcher selected No. 1 since '97

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The Pittsburgh Pirates know No. 1 draft pick Bryan Bullington still needs some work.

``We still look at him as a couple of years away,'' general manager Dave Littlefield said after taking the Ball State right-hander with the first pick in Tuesday's draft. ``On the plus side, that may mean ... he'll be an even better pitcher than we see now.''

Bullington, who throws a 94 mph fastball, is the first pitcher drafted with the top pick since Detroit took Rice right-hander Matt Anderson in 1997. Littlefield envisions Bullington as a No. 3 starter, evidence of the lack of star talent in this year's draft.

``We're talking about a guy who has accomplished a lot in his college career,'' Littlefield said. ``He's improved a lot and, beyond the radar gun and the things that are easy to measure, he's a smart guy, he's very competitive and very determined.''

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Bullington, the Mid-American Conference career strikeouts leader with 370, caught the Pirates' attention after going 11-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 139 strikeouts and 18 walks in 104 2-3 innings.

Although he knew he was being considered as a top pick, Bullington didn't know for sure until his name announced.

``We kept hearing top-three selections, but we never got any confirmation,'' said Bullington, who also throws a hard slider and tough curve. ``I heard it when you heard it.''

In a draft class that was generally considered lacking in college talent, 14 college players were taken in the first round. This year's crop didn't have as many surefire prospects as last year, when Minnesota took catcher Joe Mauer with the first pick and Cubs pitcher Mark Prior went second.

Tampa Bay took B.J. Upton, a good-hitting, slick-fielding shortstop from Greenbrier Christian Academy in Virginia with the second pick.

Chris Gruler, a right-hander from Liberty High School in California with one of the best curveballs in the draft, went to Cincinnati with the third pick.

Adam Loewen, a 6-6 left-hander from Surrey, British Columbia, became the highest-drafted Canadian player when Baltimore took him with the fourth pick.

Jeff Francis, a lefty from the University of British Columbia, was taken ninth by Colorado and joined Loewen to make some draft history. There had only been two Canadians selected in the first round -- and none in the top 10 picks -- before Francis and Loewen.

The first round also featured a few players with major league bloodlines.

Prince Fielder, the son of former big league slugger Cecil Fielder, went to Milwaukee with the seventh pick. The 6-foot, 255-pound Fielder, from Eau Gallie High School in Florida, hit 10 homers -- including a shot estimated at 500 feet in his final game this year.

``He's not just a power hitter, he's a guy who can hit,'' Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik said. ``Prince has worked on his body. We like his makeup. He's a better athlete than you might think.''

Ohio State first baseman Nick Swisher, the son of former major league catcher Steve Swisher -- a first-round pick by the Chicago White Sox in 1973 -- went to Oakland with the 16th pick. The Swishers joined Tom and Ben Grieve and Jeff and Sean Burroughs as father-son first-rounders.

John Mayberry Jr., the son of former big leaguer John Mayberry, was taken by Seattle with the 28th pick. He showed good power potential and defensive instincts playing first base for Rockhurst High School in Missouri.

Oakland took college players with its four first-round picks: Swisher, Kentucky right-hander Joseph Blanton, Maryland shortstop John McCurdy and Fresno State righty Ben Fritz. The A's got three extra picks as compensation for losing free agents Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Jason Isringhausen.

Right-hander Clint Everts and left-hander Scott Kazmir of Cypress Falls High School in Houston became the fourth set of high school teammates to go in the first round. Everts went to Montreal with the fifth pick, and Kazmir to the New York Mets at No. 15.

``I don't know how to explain any of it, but I know that Clint and I worked hard enough and we deserve this,'' Kazmir said. ``Now it's over and we don't have to worry about it anymore.''

Other top 10 picks were right-hander Zack Greinke from Apopka High School in Florida, who went to Kansas City with the sixth pick; shortstop Scott Moore from Cypress High School in California, who went to Detroit with the eighth pick; and South Carolina shortstop Drew Meyer, who went 10th to Texas.

Rutgers right-hander Bobby Brownlie, hailed as the top college pitcher before the season and a possible No. 1 draft pick, went 21st to the Chicago Cubs. Brownlie's stock dipped after elbow tendinitis sapped some velocity and he didn't dominate as he did last summer with Team USA.

Boston and the New York Yankees didn't pick until the second round because of free agent signings. St. Louis waited until the last selection in the third round for its first pick.

The draft runs through Wednesday and can last up to 50 rounds.

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