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2010 Draft Preview – Arizona Diamondbacks

The fifth part of my draft preview series focuses on the Arizona Diamondbacks and their scouting director Tom Allison.

Owner: Partnership bought club in 2004
General Manager: Josh Byrnes, first season was 2006
Scouting Director: Tom Allison, first draft was 2007

Looking Back

2007 Draft: $5.1 Million Budget

1. Jarrod Parker, RHP, Norwell HS (IN), #9 Overall: Parker was in the running to be the top prep pitcher selected in the 2007 draft, and Arizona made that come true when they popped him ninth overall. He featured one of the quickest arms in recent draft memory, and this was a quality first pick by first-time scouting director Allison. Following players selected: Madison Bumgarner, Phillippe Aumont, Matt Dominguez. Signing bonus: $2,100,000.
2. Wes Roemer, RHP, Cal State Fullerton, #50 Overall: Roemer was expected to be taken anywhere from the supplemental first round to the mid-second round, and Arizona made him their first supplemental pick. He was really a pitchability college righty with good command, and though he didn’t have much upside, he was expected to move quickly through their system. Following players selected: Charlie Culberson, Matt Mangini, Kyle Lotzkar. Signing bonus: $620,000.
3. Ed Easley, C, Mississippi State, #61 Overall: Easley became Arizona’s second supplemental first round pick, though the majority of scouts saw him as a second to fourth round talent. He was a solid college hitter with average catching skills, and he wasn’t expected to turn into anything above an average to below-average Major League catcher. Following players selected: Ryan Dent, Cory Luebke, Daniel Payne. Signing bonus: $531,000.
4. Barry Enright, RHP, Pepperdine, #73 Overall: Enright was of a similar profile to Roemer, and he was expected to go somewhere in this range as a second round pick. He featured an average to below-average assortment of pitches that looked like back-end of the rotation stuff at best, though he was also likely to move quickly through the minor league system. Following players selected: Grant Desme, Denny Almonte, Mike Stanton. Signing bonus: $441,000.
5. Reynaldo Navarro, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, #103 Overall: Navarro was heralded as a potential plus fielder out of Puerto Rico, and he was expected to go anywhere from the second to fourth rounds, making this a solid pick all-around. His hitting needed work, but there wasn’t expected to be any rush on him to get through the system for his glove. Following players selected: Scott Carroll, Danny Carroll, Jameson Smith. Signing bonus: $333,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Bryan Augenstein (7th), Florida, $120K bonus

2008 Draft: $4.5 Million Budget

1. Daniel Schlereth, LHP, Arizona, #26 Overall: Schlereth was a late riser up draft boards in the spring of 2008, and even late in the spring he was expected to go in round two or three. However, Arizona saw the potential in his devastating stuff, and he was looked at as a future closer. He has now been successfully traded for Major League talent. Following players selected: Carlos Gutierrez, Gerrit Cole, Lonnie Chisenhall. Signing bonus: $1,330,000.
2. Wade Miley, LHP, Southeastern Louisiana, #43 Overall: Miley was seen as a supplemental first round talent by many clubs due to his average-to-plus stuff from the lefty side of the mound. He wasn’t as accomplished as some of his collegiate counterparts, but he was expected to be a mid-rotation candidate if things came together. Solid pick. Following players selected: Jeremy Bleich, Bryan Price, Logan Forsythe. Signing bonus: $877,000.
3. Bryan Shaw, RHP, Long Beach State, #73 Overall: Shaw was a collegiate closer expected to continue in the relief role in the pros. He was expected to go anywhere from round two to five, and the Diamondbacks called his name on the early side of that range. He featured solid stuff that graded out as possibly a future setup man or closer’s stuff. Following players selected: Tyler Chatwood, Scott Bittle, Trey Haley. Signing bonus: $553,000.
4. Kevin Eichhorn, RHP, Aptos HS (CA), #104 Overall: Eichhorn was a bit of a polarizing figure in the NoCal scouting ranks, as he looked pro caliber on some days and headed for college on others. He wasn’t particularly built for starting, and the worry was that he’d take more time than an average prep arm to get through a minor league system. He could have gone anywhere from here to the seventh round. Following players selected: Ryan Chaffee, David Adams, Cord Phelps. Signing bonus: $500,000.
5. Ryne White, OF, Purdue, #138 Overall: White was a college first baseman who Arizona drafted as an outfielder. He featured a solid hit tool and ability to control the strike zone, and some thought his floor was as a solid pinch-hitter off the bench in the NL. His name was called a few rounds earlier than expected. Following players selected: Buddy Boshers, Corban Joseph, David Roberts. Signing bonus: $213,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Collin Cowgill (5th), Kentucky, $155K bonus

2009 Draft: $9.3 Million Budget

1. Bobby Borchering, 3B, Bishop Verot HS (FL), #16 Overall: Borchering was considered the best pure prep bat in the 2010 class, and when he showed improved actions at third base in the spring, he was expected to go somewhere in the middle of the first round. His raw power and hitting actions project to the all-star level. Following players selected: A.J. Pollock, Chad James, Shelby Miller. Signing bonus: $1,800,000.
2. A.J. Pollock, OF, Notre Dame, #17 Overall: Pollock was a solid college hitter that really didn’t do anything badly in the span of his tools and skills. His hit tool was his best feature, and though he was projected to go later in the round, this was a solid pick for signability and floor. Following players selected: Chad James, Shelby Miller, Chad Jenkins. Signing bonus: $1,400,000.
3. Matt Davidson, 3B, Yucaipa HS (CA), #35 Overall: Davidson’s raw tools compare comparably with Borchering’s, and Davidson’s raw power is actually better. However, Davidson is much less refined with the bat, and though he was improved with the glove during the spring, there was still a concern he’d be a first baseman in the future. Solid pick for upside and draft position. Following players selected: Aaron Miller, James Paxton, Josh Phegley. Signing bonus: $900,000.
4. Chris Owings, SS, Gilbert HS (SC), #41 Overall: Owings shot up draft boards in the spring as a player with a solid floor and solid ceiling, too. He had average or better tools across the board, and while he was projected to go perhaps a round or two later, most didn’t question this pick. Following players selected: Garrett Richards, Brad Boxberger, Tanner Scheppers. Signing bonus: $950,000.
5. Mike Belfiore, LHP, Boston College, #45 Overall: Belfiore was BC’s first baseman and closer during his junior year, and only after a marathon extra-inning game in the NCAA Tournament were some scouts sure of his ability to be a starting pitcher. He was expected to go a round or more later, but instead the Diamondbacks called his name and signed him quickly. Following players selected: Matt Bashore, Kyle Heckathorn, Tyler Kehrer. Signing bonus: $725,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Eric Smith (2nd), Rhode Island, $605,700 bonus; OF Marc Krauss (2nd), Ohio, $550K bonus; OF Keon Broxton (3rd), Santa Fe CC (FL), $358K bonus; 2B David Nick (4th), Cypress HS (CA), $225K bonus; 1B Ryan Wheeler (5th), Loyola Marymount, $160K bonus; 3B Matt Helm (7th), Hamilton HS (AZ), $500K bonus; LHP Patrick Schuster (13th), Mitchell HS (FL), $450K bonus.

Tom Allison has had three solid drafts since becoming Arizona’s scouting director after the 2006 season, following in future Washington general manager Mike Rizzo’s footsteps. Allison has a wealth of scouting experience dating back to the mid-90s, having served as a crosschecker under Jack Zduriencik in Milwaukee for seven drafts prior to joining Josh Byrnes in Arizona. He’s still a pretty young guy at age 42, and Allison may be one of the better up-and-comers for upper-level management in all of baseball. Prior to Jarrod Parker going down with Tommy John surgery, it looked like his first two drafts were going to include successes at the top with a mix of solid players throughout the middle. Most of the other higher picks weren’t expected to have high ceilings, and while some have turned out to be less than stellar at the minor league level, players like Cowgill in 2007 and Miley in 2008 have turned into solid prospects with the ability to reach the Major League level. Looking at a few trends, it has been apparent that Allison generally likes to stick with players from the western half of the country. That’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but the number of players coming from the West has outnumbered any other region quite handily. College pitchers have especially fit into that trend. Allison has mixed bats between the prep and college ranks at a normal rate, and he doesn’t seem to trend any particular direction there. The bats have typically not come from the West, but Matt Davidson, David Nick, Ryan Wheeler, and Matt Helm punched a hole through that theory pretty quickly in 2009. I like the balance on the hitting side of things, and though Parker, Eichhorn and Schuster represent the only significant investments in prep pitching under Allison’s tenure, Allison has shown a willingness to call the names of prep arms, even at the top, where Parker wasn’t the no-doubt best prospect available to most scouts, though he was a logical choice. It’s a little hard to peg Allison’s trends down, but the college pitcher from the western half of the country is a solid bet I’d take.

Looking at draft budgeting under the tenure of Allison and Byrnes is a little hard to do, since 2009 was such an aberration compared to 2007 and 2008. The previous two drafts yielded plainly average budgets, and 2007 in particular stuck to slot after the first pick of Parker. Eichhorn was the only significant over-slot investment in 2008, and that wasn’t by much. 2009 didn’t differ too much from that trend, but with five extra picks on top of their normal number of picks, the budget doubled from year to year. Borchering, Davidson, Owings, Helm, and Schuster all represented overslot bonuses handed out to draftees, though they weren’t enormous slot-busters like some teams of late have gone to in order to acquire what they consider top-tier talent. The Diamondbacks’ 2009 draft was considered one of the rousing successes in all of baseball, so saying that largely over-slot bonuses are needed to fill out a solid draft class is logically incorrect, as players like Pollock, Belfiore, Smith, Krauss, Wheeler, and Nick all represent excellent picks for slot bonuses or less. Looking at 2010, they own picks 6, 56, 88, 121, and every 30 picks following that, provided that Rod Barajas signs a Major League contract with another club before the draft. That means that Allison is faced with a new situation that he hasn’t faced before since joining Arizona. He won’t have any extra picks. On top of that, he’s drafting the highest he’s ever drafted before, and there will be more pressure than ever to succeed. I suspect the budget will drop back down into the $5-6 million range for this draft without all the extra picks, but it all depends on how much they spend for the sixth slot.

Connecting the Diamondbacks to individual players is difficult, but not impossible. I’ve connected them to A.J. Cole from Oviedo HS in Florida in two of my 2010 mocks so far, and that really fits in line with the Parker pick of 2007. Having drafted what are mainly mid-rotation to back-end starters for a few years, the club is really in need of impact talent on the hill, and Cole’s quick arm and projection are quite similar to Parker. It’s impossible to say that the Arizona front office has come to the same conclusion, but I’m not the only one to see the similarities. I don’t expect to see them go after any Boras clients, simply because whatever bonus they give out at that pick likely won’t be outrageous, as that’s completely against their method of operation in the past. If they’re looking for impact talent from the college ranks, Deck McGuire and Chris Sale definitely fit into Allison’s previous draft methods. I can see any of those players logically being picked sixth overall, both in terms of talent and in terms of fitting into Allison’s draft history. Beyond the first round, pitchers such as Justin Grimm, Daniel Tillman, Kevin Munson, and Jake Thompson all fit into Allison’s history and hitters such as Ross Wilson, Cameron Rupp, and Kolbrin Vitek might be targets. This is all speculative at this time, but I’m trying to pin some names that you should keep in mind for Arizona.

*Bonus information came from BA.

What do you guys think?  What will the Diamondbacks do?

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February 8, 2010 - Posted by | Draft Previews

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