Mark Prior of USC was regarded as the nation's top baseball prospect, a pitcher some believe capable of stepping into a major league rotation as soon as he signs a professional contract.
The Minnesota Twins, however, selected Minnesota high school catcher Joe Mauer with the first pick in Tuesday's amateur draft, allowing the Chicago Cubs to take Prior with the second.
Prior, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound junior right-hander, was far from disappointed.
"Today has been a great day," he said. "To be drafted by the Cubs was overwhelming for me."
Pitcher Dewon Brazelton of Middle Tennessee State was taken by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with the third pick, pitcher Gavin Floyd of Mt. St. Joseph High in Severna Park, Md., went fourth to the Philadelphia Phillies and Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira, who attended the same high school as Floyd, went fifth to the Texas Rangers.
Prior was one of four Southland college players selected in the first round.
UCLA right-hander Josh Karp was selected sixth by the Montreal Expos, Long Beach State shortstop Bobby Crosby 25th by the Oakland Athletics and Pepperdine left-hander Noah Lowry 30th by the San Francisco Giants.
Two Southland high school players were among the 14 supplemental first-round picks that teams received as compensation for losing free agents. J.D. Martin, a pitcher from Ridgecrest Burroughs High, was taken 35th by the Cleveland Indians. Shortstop Michael Garciaparra, brother of Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, was taken 36th by the Seattle Mariners.
Former Palmdale High pitcher Matt Harrington, who was selected seventh last year by the Colorado Rockies but couldn't come to terms with the club, was taken by the San Diego Padres in the second round with the 58th pick.
The Dodgers did not have a first-round pick. They chose Brian Pilkington, a pitcher from Garden Grove Santiago High, in the second round with the 68th pick.
The Angels had the 13th pick and selected first baseman Casey Kotchman of Seminole High in Florida. Kotchman is the son of Tom Kotchman, a minor league manager and scout for the Angels. The club also chose catcher Jeff Mathis of Marianna High in Florida as a supplemental first-round pick with the 33rd choice.
Baseball observers had speculated for months whether the traditionally penurious Twins would select Prior or Mauer.
Prior, 20, is enjoying one of the most dominant seasons in college baseball history. He is 14-1 with a 1.50 earned-run average and will start the Trojans' College World Series opener against Georgia on Saturday at Omaha. Prior has 189 strikeouts and has walked only 17 in 131 2/3 innings.
Prior, who attended San Diego University High, was a supplemental pick, the 43rd player chosen overall, in the 1998 draft by the New York Yankees. He attended Vanderbilt for a year before transferring to USC last season.
He was chosen higher than any USC player since Steve Kemp was selected No. 1 by the Tigers in the January draft in 1976. The winter draft was discontinued after 1986.
Prior said he met with Twin officials around Christmas in the only face-to-face meeting with representatives of the club.
"I've taken the stance all year that I just wanted to be treated fairly and up front," he said.
Mauer is the first catcher drafted with the top pick since the Brewers took B.J. Surhoff in 1985.
Mauer, 6-4 and 205 pounds, was a three-sport standout at Cretin-Derham Hall High in St. Paul. He has signed a letter of intent to play quarterback at Florida State.
USC senior right-hander Rik Currier from Capistrano Valley High was selected in the sixth round by the Yankees.