D-backs seek well-rounded prospects
In Draft, club wants players who can handle challenges
PHOENIX -- When he sends his scouts out into the field, Tom Allison isn't looking for them to just report back on a player's tools.
The D-backs' first-year scouting director wants a fuller picture of a prospect before he decides whether they will be able to handle the challenges they'll face.
"Sometimes, whether it's with a college player or a high school player, it's not about their physical ability, it's more about their mental ability to handle the ups and downs of Minor League baseball," Allison said. "You recognize physical ability, but now you've got to put everything together and understand whether this guy is ready for the rigors of Minor League baseball."
A player's ability to handle that is more important to Allison than whether he is in high school or college. College players like Conor Jackson and Carlos Quentin were able to make the transition and so have high schoolers like pitcher Brett Anderson, who was taken in the second round last year, and Justin Upton, who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2005.
"Whether it's high school or college, it's always about picking the right player," Allison said.
The 2007 First-Year Player Draft takes place June 7-8 at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. The first round will be aired on ESPN2 beginning at 11 a.m. MST, and MLB.com will have every pick of the 50-round Draft, start to finish.
The D-backs have the ninth overall selection, in addition to picks No. 50 and 61, and with the level of talent in the Draft, the multiple picks give Arizona a chance to load up.
"This is something that, as an organization, we're very excited about," Allison said. "I'm looking at going shopping with a few more players that are going to be on the board, and it's an exciting time because there's a lot of good players. This Draft is full of some depth, so there will be good players available."
And the D-backs will go with the best player available early in the Draft. With a deep farm system, they don't have to draft for need early on. Besides, doing that is always a crapshoot given all that can happen between when a player is drafted and when, or rather if, he makes the big leagues.
When they drafted Upton two years ago, the D-backs knew they would have their choice of anyone, but with the ninth pick, it's more uncertain.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
"Obviously, we'll have to get a feel for the players that might get to you," Allison said. "You get some idea, but there are so many decisions that are made in a draft room outside of ability that it can be difficult to get a read on. No question, though, we've got different guys that we're bearing down and making sure we're in the right yards to evaluate those guys this time of year."
Recent Diamondbacks first-round picks:
Max Scherzer, first round, 2006: The right-hander out of the University of Missouri was taken with the 11th overall pick. Scherzer, who is represented by Scott Boras, was signed minutes before Wednesday night's deadline and became the final player from the first round to sign.
Justin Upton, first round, 2005: Upton was the first overall pick in the draft. He signed the following January and was impressive in Spring Training in 2006 with the Major League team. He was shifted from shortstop to center field at the start of the 2006 season and posted so-so numbers for Class A South Bend. Upton started 2007 at Class A Visalia, where he dominated, and was quickly promoted to Double-A Mobile.
Stephen Drew, first round, 2004: Another Boras client, Drew was widely regarded as the best position player in the draft, but slid to 15th overall because of signability issues. Negotiations with Drew went down to the deadline as the two sides reached an agreement with five minutes to spare. After playing in Class A and Double-A in 2005, Drew started '06 with Triple-A Tucson before being promoted to the big leagues in June.
Rising fast: Upton began the year in Class A Visalia, but after hitting .341 with five homers and 17 RBIs, he was promoted to Double-A Mobile in mid-May. Shifted from shortstop to the outfield last season, Upton has improved defensively and, according to one talent evaluator, he looks more like an outfielder rather than an athlete playing in the outfield.
Cinderella Story: Selected in the seventh round last year, right-hander Dan Stange was placed right into the Cal League, quite a jump out of college, and has dominated this year. He's learned how to use his 94-mph fastball and mix in his secondary stuff effectively. He's far and away the organization leader in groundball/flyball ratio with around a 5.0.
In the Show: SS Drew (First round, 2004); INF Mark Reynolds (16th round, 2004); RHP Micah Owings (Third round, 2005).
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.