Who will be Tony LaRussa’s first D’back draft pick? Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
The Major League Baseball Draft will take place between June 5th and June 7th. For the Arizona Diamondbacks, it will be the first major organizational event that will feature Tony LaRussa. The D’backs will have four picks in the top 70, the latter two (#69 and #70) as part of the Competitive Balance Lottery. What is the braintrust thinking? Well, it’s clear Arizona could use a top-flight catcher and an impact player in the outfield. Will they go best available or draft based on need? No one knows for sure and while I am not exactly qualified to evaluate college and high school players, I will nevertheless try to predict which players the D’backs will take with their first two picks. I am basing this on Baseball Amercia’s Top 500 prospects which you can check out here along with some stats and the tried and true gut instinct that some
Round 1, pick #16
Possible candidates: C Max Pentecost (#12), OF Bradley Zimmer (#15), OF Monte Harrison (#21)
Pentecost is the highest-rated catcher on the board. He is a Junior from Kennesaw St. University and was just named as a First Team All-American by Louisville Slugger. Pentecost is a semi-finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the top collegiate player in the country. As of May 27th, he led the nation in hits and ranked in the top five in seven other offensive categories. Zimmer is the younger brother of Royals’ prospect Kyle Zimmer. The Junior from the University of San Francisco is also a Golden Spikes semi-finalist. He finished the year with a .368 average with seven home runs and 31 RBI’s with 21 stolen bases and was named to his second straight All-West Coast Conference Team. Baseball America has Harrison ranked as the #1 player in the state of Missouri. He is also a star wide receiver who has committed to the University of Nebraska. According to a scout’s analysis (found here at kansascity.com), the Lee’s Summit high schooler is a five-tool player. Harrison has been invited by MLB to attend this week’s Draft.
The verdict: Pentecost will most likely be gone by the time the D’backs pick. Harrison seems to be the most intriguing guy of the bunch. LaRussa probably doesn’t want to use his first pick on a guy who may not even play baseball. Zimmer is the guy for Arizona to grab with it’s first pick.
Round 2, pick #54
Possible candidates: RHP Garrett Fulenchek (#54), C J.J. Schwarz (#57), RHP Brett Graves (#60)
There is something about the state of Texas and its pitchers. All of them seem to be at least 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. Fulenchek comes up a bit short in the weight department but he is only a senior in high school. In November, he signed a letter of intent with Dallas Baptist University. BA has him listed as the fourth-best player in the state. Schwarz, a Palm Beach Gardens High School (Florida) Senior, was named to the USA 18U National Team that won the World Cup last Fall. The ninth-ranked player in the state, Schwarz has already committed to the University of Florida. Graves is a Junior at the University of Missouri where he went 3-6 with a 3.87 ERA in 14 starts. He was named the SEC Co-Player of the Week March 3rd for throwing 15 consecutive scoreless innings over two starts.
The verdict: Graves’ stats don’t really wow anyone but is a college pitcher in a draft full of high schoolers. Schwarz is clearly one of the best prep school prospects in the country. The D’backs used a first round pick in 2012 on a catcher, Stryker Trahan, who is now in the outfield. There is a need in the organization for one. This is a tough one but the recent trades of young pitchers leads me to believe the call is for Fulenchek.