Arizona Diamondbacks: Catcher in opening round possible

The Arizona Diamondbacks could select a catcher with their first pick in Monday’s draft.

Before Sunday’s game with the Milwaukee Brewers at home, manager Torey Louvllo of the Arizona Diamondbacks was asked about the organization priority for  the up-coming draft. Lovullo told Venom Strikes that there are two criteria which should influence the section.

We know the kind of player we want for this organization. We’re looking for a player with ability, that’s obvious and also of high character. We know the other teams are drawing up their list of the best 100 players and we’re ready to grab the best player available.

In that regard, the Diamondbacks are reportedly seeking to add catchers and pitchers to their farm system during the 2017 draft.

The team’s Top 30, 2017 Prospect Watch is low on catchers. It only includes 2016’s No. 52 overall draft pick Andy Yerzy and Jose Herrera, signed in 2013 from Venezuela as an international free agent.

Yerzy, drafted out of high school, may take a few years to mature before he sees major-league action. The Diamondbacks signed Herrera as 16-year-old out of Venezuela in 2013. Both or either could wind up in Chase Field by  2020.

The Diamondbacks also have Ryan January, an eighth round draft pick out of San Jacinto college in 2016. However, January is serving a 50-game suspension for allegedly violating the Minor League’s drug policy.

With that in mind, the Diamondbacks will probably be looking for a catcher with a little more experience and maturity. The first two catching prospects listed in Baseball America’s Top 200 are coming straight out of high school with verbal commitments to four-year universities.

Baseball America’s John Manuel and ESPN’s Keith Law are in agreement that the Diamondbacks could select Virginia OF Adam Haseley with the seventh overall draft pick. However, MLB’s Jim Callis is predicting they take Haseley’s Virginia teammate Pavin Smith, a first baseman.

With the first round draft pick likely going to a UVA Cavalier, the Diamondbacks will have the No. 44 (Round 2) pick, No. 68 (Competitive Balance Round B) pick, and No. 82 (Round 3) pick to select a top-ranked catcher.

At the top of the list for catchers with college experience consider,  Riley Adams, a 21-year-old junior from the University of San Diego. Adams is currently listed as the No. 70 overall prospect by Baseball America (No. 73 by MLB) and was previously a Chicago Cubs draft pick out of high school in 2014.

Adams, born in Encinitas, Calif., opted to stay local and play for the Toreros. As a junior, Adams averaged .312 at the plate, including 13 HR, 47 RBI and only 57 strikeouts.

Playing in Arizona could be enticing to the Southern California native as its only a short drive from home. The Diamondbacks could select Adams at No. 68, or if he’s still available, at No. 82.

The Diamondbacks have another option to consider and he is Evan Skoug, a 21-year-old slugger chasing the College World Series with TCU. Skoug is Baseball America’s No. 74 overall draft pick (No. 48 by MLB) who was previously selected by the Washington Nationals in 2014.

Skoug was once ranked among the Top 50 prospects heading into the 2017 season, but in his junior year he is only averaging .278 at the plate. Seemingly a boom or bust hitter, the 5-foot-11 Illinois native currently owns 18 HR and 62 RBI but also 84 strikeouts in 234 at-bats.

If Adams is selected earlier, or if Skoug’s slugging power and College World Series experience is just too much to pass, the Frogs catcher could land a deal with Diamondbacks at No. 68 or No. 82.

However, speculation centers around Skoug to transition to a power-hitting first basemen early in his career. If the Diamondbacks take Virginia’s Haseley over Smith, they could get the best of both worlds with Skoug.

If either catcher falls to No. 82, that will not be known until Tuesday. The first and second rounds of the MLB Draft will take place on Monday, June 12 at 7 p.m. ET on MLB Network and MLB.com. Rounds 3-10 will take place on Tuesday and rounds 4-40 on Wednesday.

Editors Note: Mark Brown, site expert for Venom Strikes, contributed to this article.