31 May 2012
The 2011 draft was a very exciting one for the Diamondbacks, since the team had two picks in the Top 7, which turned into pitchers Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley. 2012 will probably not be as interesting, since the club does not pick for the first time until Pick #26, and not for the second time until Pick #90. Monday's Draft also will be the first conducted under the new collective bargaining agreement, which places an effective cap on bonuses offered to draft picks. For their first ten picks, the Diamondbacks can spend a total of $3.818M, much less than than the $11.16M the team spent in 2011 on its Top 10. In fact, the Diamondbacks spent more each on just Bradley ($5M) and Bauer ($3.4M) than they can this year. So there will be no chance of going way over-slot to draft a "hard-to-sign" player.
So what kind of player will the Diamondbacks be looking for in the June 4 draft? The team certainly has a lot of minor league pitching depth, and an overall shortage of talent among position players, especially at catcher. But it is generally a mistake to draft for need in the MLB draft - getting the best player available is usually a better strategy, given the long development time and low success rates of drafted players. It's always tough to project a pick all the way at #26, because so many teams will have a chance to take all of the players listed below. Plus, if any of the currently projected top players slips, the Diamondbacks might end up getting a much better player than predicted. Given all of these limitations, here are a dozen players that the Diamondbacks might be looking at (with rankings from Baseball America, ESPN, and Baseball Prospectus).
Stryker Trahan, C/OF Acadiana HS, Louisiana (BA #27, ESPN #24, BP #31)
Trahan is the Diamondbacks' pick in Baseball America's latest Mock Draft. 6-1, 220 lbs, Trahan is a very good athlete who also started at QB for his high school team. He throws well, but there are questions about his receiving ability, which may move him to RF. He has good power and surprising speed, and his offensive tools are expected to be good enough for a corner outfield spot. Would be an outstanding pick if he can stick at Catcher. Committed to the University of Mississippi.
Nick Travieso, RHP, Archbishop McCarthy, Florida (BA #40, ESPN #33, BP #31-40)
Travieso is the Diamondbacks' selection in Keith Law's Mock Draft for ESPN. He's played for some of the top high schools (American Heritage and Archbishop McCarthy) in the country, and as a result, found himself needed only as a reliever until this season. He throws his fastball consistently in the 92-95 mph range, and has reached as high as 98. Travieso also has a hard slider and is working on a changeup. He's been moving up draft boards since his stuff seems to have improved significantly during the season.
Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas A&M (BA #25, ESPN #42)
Naquin is one of the best pure college hitters in the draft, leading the Big XII in batting average for the last two seasons. Naquin also has the best throwing arm of any college outfielder, and also has good spped, going 21 for 26 in stolen bases. But there are questions about his power, as he has only 3 HR and 24 extra base hits in 229 ABs this season. Some scouts are afraid he is a tweener - not good enough speed for CF, but not enough power for a corner OF.
Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS, Florida (BA #28, ESPN #19, BP #16)
Russell has excellent bat speed, good range at SS, and an above-average arm. Scouts initially were projecting him as a 3B, but he lost 20 lbs in his senior year and now looks like he could stick at SS. He should have plenty of power for a SS, although the strikeouts may always be high. Russell has some serious star potential, and has signed with Scott Boras. Committed to Auburn.
Victor Roache, OF Georgia Southern (BA #22, ESPN #89)
Roache had a tremendous power season for Georgia Southern as a sophomore in 2011, blasting 30 HR in 62 Games while batting .326. Unfortunately in 2012, Roache broke his wrist in February, and only played in 6 Games this year, hitting two home runs. Scouts were hoping he could come back for the NCAA postseason, but that didn't happen, so there is a lot of uncertainty about whether Roache is completely healthy. Before the injury, he was considered a possible Top 10 pick.
Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo HS, California (BA #53, ESPN #26)
Virant is a projectable left hander who already throws in the low 90s with good location. He has a good downward angle on his pitches, and throws a solid changeup and a decent slider. Some see him as similar to fellow Californian high schooler Tyler Skaggs. Committed to UCLA.
Pierce Johnson, RHP, Missouri State (BA #32, ESPN #59)
Johnson's fastball sits in the 92-93 mph range and can reach 96. He throws a power curveball in the low 80s, along with a changeup and a slider. Johnson struck out 112 batters in 91.2 IP in 2012, for a rate of 12.2K/9, while walking only 26 (2.55 BB/9). There are injury concerns with Johnson - he missed some starts with a forearm strain this spring, and many scouts are not crazy about his delivery.
Ty Buttrey, RHP, Providence HS, North Carolina (BA #38, ESPN #34)
Buttrey is a tall, projectable right-hander at 6-5, 205. He was throwing as high as 96 mph in the early spring, but settled into the 90-93 range for most of the season. His curve/knuckle-curve and change-up give him the potential for three plus pitches. Buttrey turned 19 at the end of March, so he is one of the older prep prospects. Committed to Arkanasas.
Clint Coulter, C Union HS, Washington (BA #48, ESPN #35, BP #29)
Coulter is a strong 6-3, 200 lbs and was a state champion wrestler. His bat looks solid, with both contact and power, but there are questions about his defensive ability and agility behind the plate. If he can't stay at catcher, his bat may be good enough to move to 1B. If he can stay at Catcher, he has a very high ceiling. He's often compared to Mike Napoli, and is committed to Arizona State.
Tanner Rahier, SS Palm Desert HS California (BA #34, ESPN #31, BP #24)
Rahier has been moving up draft boards after some impressive private workouts. He didn't play high school baseball for the last two seasons, playing instead for a club team in a wood bat league. He's one of the more polished prep hitters in the draft, with a good approach and bat speed, but he may need to develop more power. Defensively, he has a strong arm, but may not have the range to stick at SS. But he could be a plus defender at 3B or 2B if he needs to switch positions. He's often compared to the Rays' Evan Longoria. Committed to the University of San Diego.
Joey Gallo, 3B/RHP, Bishop Gorman HS, Nevada (BA #33, ESPN #23, BP #27)
At 6-5, 205, Gallo has tremendous power, hitting over 60 home runs in his high school career, and he had the 10th longest home run in Petco Park history while playing in an All-Star game there. But he also swings and misses a lot, and he doesn't have much range at 3B. He throws in the mid-90s as a pitcher, but has said that he prefers to be a position player.
Stephen Piscotty, OF/3B, Stanford (BA #26, ESPN #15, BP #22)
Piscotty won the batting title in the Cape Cod league last summer, and hit .312/.405/.460 for Stanford this season. He needs to show more power, but many feel that he will once he leaves the Stanford program. He's a good athlete with a strong arm, but he did make 11 errors this year, so he may be moved from 3B to a corner OF position.
Others who the Diamondbacks could take, but who probably won't last until Pick #26:
OF Byron Buxton (Appling County HS, Ga.), RHP Mark Appel (Stanford), RHP Kyle Zimmer (San Francisco), C Michael Zunino (Florida), SS Carlos Correa (Puerto Rico), RHP Kevin Gaussman (LSU), OF Albert Almora (Mater Academy, Fla), RHP Lucas Giolito (Harvard Westlake HS, Cal.), LHP Max Fried (Harvard Westlake HS, Cal.), SS Deven Marrero (Arizona State), RHP Marcus Stroman (Duke), RHP Michael Wacha (Texas A&M), OF David Dahl (Oak Mountain HS, Ala.), RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (Jesuit HS, Fla), SS Gavin Cecchini (Barbe HS, La.), OF Courtney Hawkins (Carroll HS, Tex.), 3B Corey Seager (NW Cabarrus HS, NC), LHP Andrew Heaney (Okla St.), RHP Chris Stratton (Miss. St.), OF D.J. Davis (Stone HS, Miss.), 3B Richie Schafer (Clemson), RHP Ty Hensley (Santa Fe HS, Okla.), LHP Matt Smoral (Solon HS, Ohio), RHP Zach Eflin (Hagerty HS, Fla.)
Here is a summary of the Diamondbacks' first ten picks in Monday's draft. The team's pick value is ranked 28th out of 30 teams.