Diamondbacks Draft

Arizona’s First Round Pick – 2015 First Year Player Draft

By Chris Jackson
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Could Chris Owings move to second base to accomodate our 1st round draft pick?

Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB First Year Player Draft is a fickle thing. For instance, players like Chipper Jones were number one overall picks, but on the other hand are guys like Matt Bush who was also drafted Number 1 overall. Does that name sound familiar? If you have heard of him, it’s not because of anything he did on the field, but instead because he is serving time in prison for aggravated DUI/causing bodily injury.

That being said, how does a team decide who to draft? Do they count on filling holes in their roster? Do they draft a coveted player, so they can use him as trade bait to get someone that’s ready for the Major League? Do they draft and have the player change positions, like Arizona did in 2005 with Justin Upton – moving him from SS to OF?

Because of an MLB worst 64-98 record in 2014, the Diamondbacks have landed themselves the number one overall pick in the 2015 First Year Player Draft.

There are no Stephen Strasburgs or Bryce Harpers to take in this upcoming draft. However, there are a few very interesting players that have separated themselves from the proverbial ‘pack’ of other possible draft choices. Let’s discuss those top 3, and their potential to fit in to the Diamondbacks organization.

Many analysts believe the best pick in this upcoming draft is Brendan Rodgers, who is a high school shortstop coming out of Florida. Rodgers is a solid defender with a very good arm and a bat that is bursting with potential. This past year, he posted a slash line of  .397/.488/.823 with 8 homers.Rodgers exhibits very good potential as a power hitting shortstop with strong defense. Rodgers is a Florida State commit, but given the potential to be drafted somewhere in the first 3 picks next June, it is of common opinion he will declare and begin his professional baseball career. With Owings having yet to prove himself, and Ahmed a shaky bat (at best) with above average defense, it certainly couldn’t hurt to draft another SS – especially one with very high upside.

The projected number two pick is a left handed pitcher by the name of Brady Aiken. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he was drafted number one overall last year by the Houston Astros. The Astros failed to sign Aiken after a physical revealed damage to the UCL in his throwing arm.Aiken projects to have a fastball in the low to low-mid 90s, elevating to 94-95MPH as his body matures. Aiken also throws an above average curve and a plus change, and has very good control of all three pitches, a quality becoming more and more important, as the days of the power pitcher (a la Randy Johnson) are mostly behind us. Aiken figures to be an “ace” on mid to mid-high market teams and a solid number 2 on big market teams such as Los Angeles, New York and Boston. The only question here is in the UCL – Arizona has lost many pitchers over the last few years to Tommy John surgery,  and would have to be willing to accept the risk that Aiken may need TJ before even reaching the bigs.”Is it worth the potential reward?” is the question the Diamondbacks’ front office will be charged with answering. At the worst, he’s a bust and never pitches a day in the bigs and at the best, he’s in a rotation with Shipley, Bradley, and other Arizona up-and-comers.

The final pick worth selecting in the top 3 is Michael Matuella, another pitcher, this one out of Duke University. Matuella’s combined stats (two years of college ball) equate to: 5-6 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 95 Ks, 114 IP, and only 1 HR given up. Now, it’s always tough to judge a pitcher when they aren’t facing Major League hitting, but no matter which way you slice it – those numbers are impressive. And frankly, the numbers only got better in his sophomore campaign of 2014 where he was used strictly as a starter: (1-3; 2.78 ERA; 11 GS; 58.1 IP; 1 HR, 69 Ks, .94 WHIP).Now you’re thinking he’s the easy pick, I’m sure – but not so fast, there’s a catch. Matuella has been diagnosed with a condition known as spondylosis; a condition of the spine that has restricted him to only 121 total Innings Pitched in two years of college and summer ball. On top of that, this fall Matuella was unable to face live hitters, so he is very high risk/somewhat high reward, with nothing being guaranteed. In my opinion, his risk is far too high to draft him with a number one overall pick.

All that being said, I think Arizona’s best bet is to play it safe and draft the young shortstop. And given the fact that the Diamondbacks just traded Didi Gregorious away to The Yankees, it seems to me that the plan is indeed just that – to draft Brendan Rodgers.

For more about the draft, be sure to stick with Venom Strikes as the First Year Player Draft gets closer! (June ’15)

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