Jul 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics former manager Tony La Russa, pitcher Dave Stewart and infielder Rickey Henderson on the field during the celebration of the 1989 Oakland Athletics World Series Champions before the game against Baltimore Orioles at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
The 2015 Draft was a big one of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Not only did they have the number one overall pick but it was also the first draft run by the brain trust led by Tony LaRussa and Dave Stewart. As usual, not every player will work out, some will make it to Arizona and others will be traded before they reach Double A ball. My colleague Guillermo Salcido did an excellent job introducing us to each and every newest member of the D’back organization. Today, I will offer some thoughts as to what perhaps LaRussa and company were thinking as well as two guys whose numbers jumped off the pages for me.
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After taking shortstop Dansby Swanson #1, the Snakes proceeded to draft five collegiate pitchers in a row, four of them relievers. It seems as though their offseason strategy of trading for a bevy of starting pitchers continued in the draft, only this time the concentration was the bullpen. In all, ten pitchers were taken by the D’backs out of the first 20 rounds with the only high schooler being Wesley Rodriguez from George Washington High School (Manny Ramirez‘s alma mater) in round 12. While I can’t get inside anyone’s head, I thought back to a column written by Nick Piecoro at azcentral on 5/19/14 and some quotes that were made by D’backs pitching guru Dave Duncan:
"I’m in Mobile, Alabama, right now watching the Double-A club play, and this club is leading this division by four games, I think, and I’m trying to evaluate what they have down here. And, so far, I haven’t been overly impressed."
About the starting pitchers throughout the organization:
"I think we have pitchers that can pitch in the big leagues, but we need some top-of-the-rotation type starters, some real anchors for our starting staff."
I find it curious that the club used a bunch of high drat picks on college pitchers that were primarily relievers. Perhaps they liked the arms a great deal, enough to stretch them out into starters. After all, it was Duncan and LaRussa that turned Stewart from a middling reliever/spot starter into a staff ace and Dennis Eckersley from a .500 starter into a Hall of Fame closer.
As for the two guys with eye-popping numbers, we have 13th round pick Jason Morozowski, an outfielder from Division II University of Mount Olive in North Carolina. As a junior, he hit .424 with 21 home runs and 82 RBI’s with 17 stolen bases in 55 games. Another outfielder Jacy Cave, selected in round 19, hit .491 with 20 home runs and 81 RBI’s in 57 games played. He attended New Mexico Junior College. Time will tell if these two guys stick in Arizona’s or any other organization but those numbers are astounding for any level of ball above high school.
Bleacherreport.com has already given the D’backs an A for their draft. Given the team’s four game losing streak, including a sweep at the hands of the hated Dodgers, anything positive is welcome. We won’t know for sure if it is truly an “A” draft until someone (namely Swanson) produces at the Major League level.