Five taken in first six picks

Updated: December 15, 2003, 4:21 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- The Pittsburgh Pirates finished 12 games below .500 last season, but their minor leaguers proved enticing for the rest of baseball.

The Pirates lost five players among the first six chosen in Monday's winter meetings draft, including catcher Chris Shelton, who went to Detroit as the first overall pick.

San Diego then took outfielder Rich Thompson, whom they later traded to Kansas City for right-hander Jason Szuminski and cash.

After Tampa Bay took righty Alec Zumwalt from the Atlanta organization, three more Pirate farmhands fell off the board.

Lefty Frank Brooks went to the Mets, righty Jeff Bennett went to the Brewers and infielder Jose Bautista was taken by the Orioles. The Mets traded Brooks to the Oakland Athletics for a player to be named.

Cleveland also had five players picked as a total of 20 were chosen in the major league portion of the draft.

Players are eligible for the draft if they are not on a team's 40-man roster and have been in professional baseball for three seasons -- four if they signed before turning 18.

Players selected must remain on the 25-man active roster or the disabled list for all of 2004 or be offered back to their former teams for $25,000.

Also taken Monday was Florida righty Jason Grilli, a former first-round draft pick who has battled injuries, by the Chicago White Sox.

Grilli, the son of ex-major leaguer Steve Grilli, went 10-4 with a 3.05 ERA while splitting last season between Class A and Triple-A.

"We believe he is healthy and has a chance to compete for a job in our bullpen this spring," said Duane Shaffer, White Sox senior director of player personnel.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press