NEW YORK — NEW YORK -- It took the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins seven hours to select 72 players in the National League expansion draft here yesterday.
Then it took them less than 30 minutes to complete six trades involving 16 players.
As expected, both of the new teams concentrated on youth during yesterday's marathon. But they also stocked their rosters with some veterans who were attractive primarily because of their trade value.
"Before this is over, I think we'll have a few surprises for you," Florida president Carl Barger said before the first round was concluded. He was right as the Marlins put together four trades, each netting two players in return for one.
It was obvious early, when right-hander David Nied and outfielder Nigel Wilson were the first two players selected, that the most promising talent commanded most of the attention. Nied and Wilson were considered the best young prospects available, and once they were on the board, the Rockies and Marlins used diverse tactics to select their remaining 35 players.
As soon as the draft concluded shortly after 9 p.m., both of the new National League teams headed for the conference room -- not to discuss their choices, but to announce trades.
The Marlins wheeled and dealed four times. They sent left-handed reliever Greg Hibbard to the Cubs for shortstop Alex Arias and third baseman Gary Scott.
That was followed with an announcement that left-handed starter Danny Jackson had been shipped to Philadelphia for two left-handed prospects -- Joel Adamson and Matt Whisenant.
Then came the most curious swap of the night. Catcher Eric Helfand, drafted from Oakland a few hours earlier, was returned to the Athletics for shortstop Walt Weiss.
The Marlins concluded their whirlwind activity by sending right-handed reliever Tom Edens to Houston for right-handers Hector Carrasco and Brian Griffiths.
As soon as the Marlins relinquished the microphone, the Rockies stepped up to announce two trades. They dealt second baseman Jody Reed to the Dodgers for right-handed pitcher Rudy Seanez, then swapped outfielders with Milwaukee -- sending Kevin Reimer to the Brewers for Dante Bichette.
Nied, a right-handed pitcher from Atlanta's overflowing minor-league system, had the honor of being the first player selected in the draft. The Rockies tipped their selection by flying Nied, 24, into Denver for a news conference.
Considered the best pitching prospect in the minor leagues last year, Nied was 14-9 with a 2.84 ERA at Triple-A Richmond, and 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA in six games with Atlanta in the final month.
"We knew we would lose one good player, at least," said Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz. "But we had to consider the integrity of the roster that has won the National League pennant the last two years.
"We liked Nied a lot, he did a fine job for us when he came up at the end of the year. He's got great control, that's his biggest asset, and a real good makeup," said Schuerholz.
With the second pick, the Marlins opted for a player they acknowledge has only a slight chance of being in their lineup on Opening Day. Nigel Wilson, a home-grown outfielder with the Toronto Blue Jays, was hailed by Florida president Carl Barger as a future superstar.
"He was the best athlete available," said Barger. "I can't tell you how high our people are on him. He's not a household name, but we think he will be someday.
"We don't project at the present time that he will be our starting left fielder," said Barger. "But we think he has the potential to be a tremendous power hitter. We think he can become a superstar."
Toronto general manager Pat Gillick, who will take some heat for leaving a talented native of Toronto unprotected, acknowledged Wilson's ability, but seemed unrattled by his loss.
"We have 12 free agents, and even without them we had some tough decisions [picking a 15-man protected list]," said Gillick. "We expect to be competitive again -- and we had to leave somebody off who didn't figure for 1993. Unfortunately, he was the one they chose."
Going into the draft, it was predicted that the Rockies would be more youth-oriented than the Marlins. But that wasn't the case in the first round. Florida GM Dave Dombrowski had said going in that he had four potential deals in place, and his early choices reflected as much.
California reliever Bryan Harvey, who has a contract guaranteed for $11.25 million over the next three years, was the Marlins' 10th selection, the 20th player taken overall. There was immediate speculation that the Braves might be waiting in the wings to pick up a needed closer.
Hibbard was Florida's sixth pick, 12th overall, and the trade rumors that swirled around him came to fruition as soon as the draft ended. Montreal second baseman Bret Barberie, a player the Orioles were interested in a year ago, was the No. 3 pick, sixth overall, of the Marlins.
In the second round, the Marlins went for pitching depth -- taking 10 pitchers, all of them right-handed and seven of them with some big-league experience. The most notable of those picks were Cris Carpenter, Jack Armstrong, Tom Edens and David Weathers.
The Rockies took Reimer with their fifth choice, eventually trading him to the Brewers, which can use him as a designated hitter. They took Yankees third baseman Charlie Hayes with their second pick, third overall.
For the most part, the two new teams stayed away from high-priced veterans, including Orioles first baseman Glenn Davis and Yankees outfielder Danny Tartabull. But Hayes was a player few expected to be available.
"We did a real good job of protecting our prospects," Yankees general manager Gene Michael said of the decision to expose Hayes. "We risked a few things. If we had covered some of our major-league players for next year, we probably would have put some young players at risk."