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Diamondbacks 2011 Draft Preview | May

One month ago, many Diamondbacks' fans had almost given up on this season, and were really excited about the 2011 MLB June Draft. But a 19-10 record in the month of May catapulted the team all the way into 1st Place in the NL West, and suddenly the draft faded a little in significance.  But the team does have two of the first seven picks, and this draft will be critical in the long-term success of the franchise.  The second choice at #7 is a compensation pick for Barret Loux in 2010, who was not signed due to injury concerns. This pick will be an unprotected pick, meaning that if that player is not signed, the Diamondbacks will not get a compensation choice in 2012. This may lead the team to go for a "safe" player here who is likely to sign, rather than a high school player who may need a big contract to keep him from college. Here is a look at some of the prospects who the Diamondbacks are considering at Picks #3 and #7. The draft will be held on Monday, June 6th.

Anthony Rendon - Age 20, 3B, Rice University, 6-0/190, B/T: R/R
Rendon won several National Player of the Year awards in 2010, when he hit .394/.530/.801, with 26 HR, 83 RBI, and 14 SB in 63 Games.  He made the U.S. International Team roster and also made the Conference USA Academic Honor Roll. Unfortunately, Rendon strained his shoulder early in the 2011 season, and has slumped to only .327/.523/.535 in 2011, with just 6 HR and 35 RBI in 60 Games. His 78 Walks lead all of Division I baseball. Despite the injuries this season, Rendon is still considered the best hitter in the draft, and most scouts expect hm to be a .300 hitter with 30 HR potential. Defensively, he is considered to have above-average range and a strong arm, and has even seen some time at 2B this year. He probably will be selected in the first two picks, but if he is available at #3, the Diamondbacks definitely should grab him.

Gerrit Cole - Age 20, RHP, UCLA, 6-4/220, B/T: R/R
Cole has the best stuff of any college pitcher in the draft. His four-seam fastball regular sits in the mid-90s and occasionally breaks 100 mph. He also throws a two-seam fastball in the low 90s and has an outstanding changeup that is already considered major-league quality. His slider is still a work in progress, but has the potential to also be a useful pitch. Despite the great stuff, the results in 2011 have not been as impressive - 6-7, 3.28 ERA, 108K/23BB/8HRA in 107 IP. But there is no denying his stuff, and his makeup and work ethic are reported to be excellent. He has faced excellent competition in the Pac-10, the College World Series, and Team USA. He has the best ace potential of any college pitcher in the draft class, and would be an excellent choice if he was available at #3.

Dylan Bundy - Age 18, RHP, Owasso HS (Okla.), 6-1/205, B/T: S/R
Although just in high school, many scouts think that Bundy has the best arm in this year's draft. His fastball is in the mid-90s, and he has an cutter and a curveball that are considered plus pitches. His makeup and work ethic are reported to be "off the charts," according to Baseball America. His high school numbers are ridiculous - 158K/5BB in 71 IP, with an ERA of 0.20. Bundy is reported asking for Strasburg-type money, but he may be the most talented pitcher in the draft.

Danny Hultzen - Age 21, LHP, Univ. of Virginia, 6-3/200, B/T: L/L
Hultzen is considered to be the most "Major League ready" pitcher in the draft. His stats at UVa are excellent - 10-3, 1.59 ERA, 136K/16BB/3HRA in 96.1 IP. The Diamondbacks drafted him out of high school in the 10th Round, but he chose to go to college. His fastball is in the low 90s, occasionally reaching 96mph, and he has a quality changeup and an improving slider.  There have been reports of the Pirates taking him with the first overall pick, but recent word of reduced velocity in his last few college starts may cause him to slip out of the Top 3. Hultzen is the name associated most closely with the Diamondbacks, but he probably does not have the upside potential of Cole and Bundy.

Trevor Bauer - Age 20, RHP, UCLA, 6-2/185, B/T: R/R
Although Bauer's stuff may not be as good as teammate Gerrit Cole's, his results have been much better in 2011. He has a 12-2 record, with a 1.27 ERA and an amazing 189 strikeouts in 127.2 IP, with only 34 walks. He reportedly has patterned himself after another slight righthander, Tim Lincecum, and they both have unorthodox deliveries. Bauer's fastball is in the low-to-mid 90s, and he throws an above-average curve and changeup, with an occasional slider and split-fingered fastball. Some are worried about Bauer's heavy workload in college, as he threw five consecutive complete games this spring, and went over 125 pitches ten times. But he is also in excellent shape, and pays a lot of attention to his training and biomechanics. He is a student of the game, and has said that he wants to play for the Diamondbacks.

Bubba Starling - Age 18, OF, Edgerton HS (Kansas), 6-5/200, B/T:R/R
Starling is the best athlete in the draft, with a scholarship offer to play football for the University of Nebraska. He already has shown tremendous home run potential, as well as the speed to play a solid CF. But he will need some time to develop, as he tends to pull everything and hits lots of fly balls. Scouts consider him the best "five-tool" talent in the draft, and expect him to improve once he focuses on baseball only as a pro. It will cost a lot to pull him away from his college football scholarship.

Francisco Lindor - Age 17, SS, Monteverde Academy (Fla.), 5-11/175, B/T: S/R
Lindor is an outstanding fielder with a switch-hitting line drive swing. He was the captain of the gold-medal winning 16U Team USA club, and has a reputation as a leader and a hard worker. He has very good speed and instincts, and could develop into a Gold Glove caliber shortstop. While there are no doubts about his glove, there are questions about his slight build and his power. But he has very good bat speed, and should develop more power as he fills out. Lindor is scheduled to have a private workout for the Diamondbacks on Thursday.

Jed Bradley - Age 20, LHP, Georgia Tech, 6-4/225, B/T: L/L
Bradley is a prototypical left handed pitcher who has a natural sink on his pitches and gets lots of ground balls. His fastball is in the low-to-mid 90s, and he has a very good slider and changeup. He has a smooth easy delivery and has more projection available than most college pitchers, as there is still room for him to fill out and get stronger. Bradley generally gets very high marks for his demeanor, confidence, and work ethic. His college stats are solid - 6-3, 3.59 ERA, 102K/30BB/1HR in 90.1 IP, and he had excellent results in the Cape Cod League last summer.

Sonny Gray - Age 21, RHP, Vanderbilt, 5-11/180, B/T: R/R
Gray is a polished college pitcher with a low-to-mid 90s fastball and an outstanding power curveball. He's not very tall, which may limit his velocity and downward plane, but scouts praise his preparation and competitiveness. His college stats are very good - 10-3, 2.12 ERA, 112K/39BB/4HRA in 101.2 IP, and he has also pitched for the USA National Team. Since he already has two outstanding pitches right now, some feel he could be a closer very quickly. But he needs to improve his changeup to become a top-flight starter.

Taylor Jungmann - Age 21, RHP, Texas, 6-6/220, B/T: R/R
Jungmann has been the ace of a strong Texas team for three seasons. In 2011, he has a 13-0 record with an excellent 0.95 ERA, and 116K/27BB/3HRA in 122.2 IP. He has a somewhat unusual delivery that adds some deception to his pitches.  His fastball is not as good as some of the pitchers on this list, as his fastball usually sits in the low 90s, but he has shown the ability to pitch well under pressure and against good competition. He can also throw a power-curve and a changeup for strikes.

Archie Bradley - Age 18, RHP, Broken Arrow HS (Okla.), 6-3/210, B/T: R/R
Bradley is the second best pitcher in Oklahoma behind Dylan Bundy, but may also be the second best high school pitcher in the entire country. He threw a 2-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts in the state championship game against Bundy's Owasso HS team. Bradley throws in the mid 90s and occasionally reaches triple digits with his fastball, and also has a very good curve ball. Bradley is also a football star, and will need to be bought out of his QB commitment to the University of Oklahoma.

Taylor Guerrieri - Age 18, RHP, Spring Valley HS (SC), 6-2/185, B/T: R/R
Guerrieri has a fastball in the mid 90s that occasionally reaches as high as 98mph. He also has a power curveball in the low 80s, and is working on a cutter and changeup. He is one of the Top 3 high school pitchers in the draft, but there are some questions about his makeup, as he had to switch high schools sfter an off-field incident. He has signed with the University of South Carolina, so he will need to be paid enough to buy him out of that commitment.

George Springer - Age 21, OF, Connecticut, 6-3/200, B/T: R/R
Springer is the best five-tool talent among the college players. He has excellent bat speed, an above-average arm and speed, and plays a solid centerfield. He started the college season slowly, which scared off some teams, but has steadily improved over the season. His stats are now at .361/.462/.644, with 12 HR, 74 RBI and 31 SB/7CS in 59 Games. His hitting is probably the biggest question mark among his skills.

Matt Barnes - Age 20, RHP, Connecticut, 6-4/200, B/T: R/R
Barnes had a strong performance in the Cape Cod League last summer, and pitched well for Team USA. His fastball is in the mid-90s and he has a plus curveball. For the year, he is 11-3 with a 1.12 ERA, with 105K/28BB/3HRA in 112.1 IP. Scouts feel he has some upside to bulk up and increase his velocity in the future. But right now, his secondary stuff still needs some work.

It would be great if either Rendon or Cole slipped to the Diamondbacks at #3.  If either one is available, they should definitely be grabbed. If not, the team has some tough choices, and could go many different ways. I would take Bundy as the #3 pick, and then try to take a college pitcher in the unprotected #7 slot (Bauer, Hultzen, or Jed Bradley).

There have been some rumblings about the team not wanting to take two pitchers, given the team's young pitching depth and poor hitting prospects. In that case, Starling is the best prospect, but also more expensive. Springer would be the easier sign, but is he could enough to take at #7 overall?  The other choice would be to take Starling at #3, and then the best college pitcher left at #7.  Grabbing two high school players seems unlikely, since both would be several years away from contributing at the Major League level.