Wednesday, June 8, 2011

D-backs fulfill draft strategy, nab power arms

By Anthony Fenech / | 06/08/11

PHOENIX -- D-backs scouting director Ray Montgomery knows his numbers.

"Forty-six percent of the rosters are pitchers," he said. "It takes a lot of pitchers to win. Our draft focus was that."

And the organization set that tone early, beginning with the D-backs first two picks of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft, when it selected right-handed pitchers Trevor Bauer (third overall) and Archie Bradley (seventh overall).

"You come out there with those two arms at the top and with what we added behind those guys," Montgomery said on a conference call on Wednesday. "We certainly feel very good about what we accomplished the last three days."

Bauer, whom the D-backs had been scouting since the age of 12, is a junior at UCLA and went 13-2 with a 1.25 ERA this season. He completed 10 games, striking out 203 in 136 2/3 innings and walked only 36.

Bradley, an 18-year-old from Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma, went 12-1 with a 0.29 ERA while leading his team to the state championship in his senior season. The hard-throwing Bradley also starred at quarterback and has committed to the University of Oklahoma to play football.

"We tried to get power arms," Montgomery said. "I don't think you can ever have enough of that."

Rounding out the team's Day 1 selections was Kent State left-hander Andrew Chafin, taken 43rd overall in the compensation round.

Chafin, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior, underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2009 and missed all of the 2010 season, but returned as the team's Friday starter and went 8-1 with a 2.02 ERA in 12 starts this season. He recorded two shutouts, struck out 105 batters in 89 innings and walked 23.

The team picked up where it left off on Day 2 of the draft by selecting Coastal Carolina starting pitcher Anthony Meo, who many project as a middle reliever at the next level but who, Montgomery said, will pitch to his comfort zone in the professional ranks.

"At this point, I think we send him out there as a starter," Montgomery said. "That's what he's done and that's what he's comfortable doing."

Meo recently threw a no-hitter in a Big South Tournament game and has a repertoire of an above-average fastball, a slider, a cutter and a changeup that's still a work in progress.

"He's got the change, but at this point it's just the pitch that's behind the other two," Montgomery said.

The four early selections of pitchers outlined the D-backs' draft strategy, as they took 28 pitchers in total, eight of those being left-handers.

Of the team's 52 picks, 38 were from the college ranks and 14 were fresh out of high school.

Some, like third-round selection Justin Bianco, are still playing in the high school state playoffs.

Bianco, from Peters Township High School in western Pennsylvania, is a 6-foot center fielder with power and speed potential. He's hitting close to .600 on the season and has a left-handed bat that Montgomery likes.

"He's a good runner and has a good body," Montgomery said, noting that coming from the Northeast, he might be a little behind repetition-wise.

The selection of Bianco signaled another trend within the organization's drafting technique this year: choosing players up the middle of the diamond. In all, the D-backs took 13 players designated to fill those positions (catcher, middle infield, center field) and spent four picks on catchers.

In the fifth round, they took Michael Perez out of San Juan, Puerto Rico and in the 15th round, Bauer's collegiate backstop Steve Rodriguez out of UCLA.

"We like his intangibles," Montgomery said of Rodriguez, who recorded a .996 fielding percentage while throwing out 59 percent of runners attempting to steal last season.

The team selected Kansas State right-hander Evan Marshall in the fourth round and TCU right-hander Kyle Winkler in the 10th, both picks representing upside on the mound.

Marshall served both starting and relieving roles at Kansas State and Winkler, who was last seen walking off the mound with an injury in the NCAA Regionals, was previously drafted by Montgomery during his time with the Brewers.

"We have a lot of history with Kyle," he said. "He has a nice package of stuff."

While a number of pitchers that the D-backs drafted might be thrust into new roles upon their arrivals in the Minor Leagues, Montgomery said he wouldn't rule out anything at the time.

"We're not going to restrict anybody," he said.

Montgomery said that the team has agreed to terms with a few picks, somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 players.

"Some will be slower than others," he said. "But we're looking forward to getting them signed and on their paths to the big leagues."

No comments: