The History of the Diamondbacks Drafts

With the 2009 MLB draft taking place in the next few days, I figured it might be fun to take a look back at the previous thirteen drafts for the Diamondbacks - they've been taking part since before the franchise played a meaningful game - and see how the team has done. For each year, we'll list the following information: who we picked in the first-round, who we should have picked [a player who went lower, but has gone on to much greater success - yeah, with total 20/20 hindsight!], the most successful player chosen, and any others of note, as well as semi-random occasional comments.

1996
1st-round pick: #30, Nick Bierbrodt
Should have been: #46, Jimmy Rollins
Best pick: #155 (5th round), Brad Penny
Major-leaguers: 10/62 (16%) - Casey Fossum (7th), Junior Spivey (36th) and Jason Jennings (54th, did not sign)

With their first-ever pick in a June draft, the not-yet in actual existence Diamondbacks took Bierbrodt. To describe him as a bust would be unfair to busts. He appeared in just five games for us, posted an ERA of 8.22 and was part of a deal with the Devil Rays which got us Albie Lopez, the forgotten sixth starter in the 2001 team and Mike Difelice, who tried to set a woman on fire. Bierbrodt got shot in a Tampa drive-through and still has a bullet in his liver.

1997
1st-round pick: #30, Jack Cust
Should have been: #185, Tim Hudson
Best pick: Cust, I guess.
Major-leaguers: 5/60 (8%) - Alex Cintron (36th).

The pickings here were very slim. This was a abominable set of choices: between Cust and Cintron, we had 34 picks, who totaled 424 at bats and four innings pitched. Among the players available and picked - just not by Arizona - Matt LeCroy, Randy Wolf, Aaron Cook, Rick Ankiel, Eric Byrnes, Michael Young, Garrett Atkins, Johnny Estrada, David Eckstein and JC Romero.

1998
1st-round pick: None. Top pick was in the third round: #103, Darryl Conyer
Should have been: #210, Matt Holliday or #265, Mark Teixeira
Best pick: #883 (29th) Mike Koplove
Major-leaguers: 6/48 (12%) - Bret Prinz (18th), Robby Hammock (23rd)

Arizona paid the price for free-agent signings this year, not having a pick in the top hundred, thanks to the arrival of Jay Bell and Willie Blair - though the picks made in our place never amounted to anything much [it probably helped that as an expansion franchise, we automatically got to pick last, so no great loss] We did pick Javier Lopez in the fourth round, but lost him to the Red Sox in the December 2002 Rule 5 draft.

1999
1st-round pick: #4, Corey Myers
Should have been: #9, Barry Zito or #10, Ben Sheets
Best pick: #538 (18th) Lyle Overbay
Major-leaguers: 5/48 (10%) - Casey Daigle (supp 1st), Chris Capuano (8th), Matt Kata (9th)

For the first time, we had a high draft selection, a result of our 96-loss debut season. Unfortunately, we used the #4 pick on Corey Myers, about whom one assistant GM was quoted as saying,  "We had him rated in the seventh round." Score one for that GM: Myers toiled for over three thousand PAs in the minors without ever reaching the show. Even moving from shortstop to the corner infield or to catcher couldn't get him to break through.

2000
1st-round pick:  None. Top pick was in the second round: #69, Mike Schultz
Should have been: #89, evil Chris Young
Best pick: #248 (8th), Brandon Webb
Major-leaguers: 9/49 (18%) - Brian Bruney (12th), Doug Slaten (17th), Ian Kinsler (29th, did not sign)

In terms of sheer percentage of players reaching the majors, this is the best in franchise history, with almost one in five choices making it, even though we lost out first-round pick to the Braves for signing...er, Russ Springer. They used it on Adam Wainwright, though later traded him to the Cardinals. Would rather have had him than Springer, that's for sure. On the other hand, there were 247 missed chances for teams to pick Brandon Webb before we did...

2001
1st-round pick: #22,. Jason Bulger
Should have been: #38, David Wright
Best pick: #338 (11th), Dan Uggla
Major-leaguers: 7/50 (14%) - Scott Hairston (3rd), Chad Tracy (7th), Brandon Medders (8th), Kinsler again (26th, still did not sign!)

Not a bad set of players here, though a good number only blossomed away from Arizona e.g. Hairston and Uggla. This also applied to our top pick [is it just me, or does 'Jason Bulger' sound like a porn-star name?], who never did much for us. He pitched ten innings in 2005, and was then traded for Alberto Callaspo to Anaheim, where he's now a bullpen regular.

2002
1st-round pick: #27, Sergio Santos
Should have been: #64, Brian McCann
Best pick: #68, Chris Snyder
Major-leaguers: 4/50 (8%) - Lance Cormier (4th), Brian Barden (6th), Dustin Nippert (15th)

Another career minor-leaguer, Santos was part of the trade that got us O-Dawg, but subsequently bounced around the Blue Jays, Twins, White Sox and Giants farm systems, without ever reaching the big-leagues. He's now back with Chicago, but is now trying to re-invent himself as a pitcher - last weekend, he made his debut with the Sox A-ball affiliate, and threw a scoreless inning of relief.

2003
1st-round pick: #19, Conor Jackson + #29, Carlos Quentin
Should have been: #62, Andre Ethier or #114, Jonathan Papelbon
Best pick: Quentin
Major-leaguers: 4/51 (7%) - Jamie D'Antona (2nd), Matt Chico (3rd)

Hooray. The eighth draft and we finally see first-round picks that get more than a cup of coffee in the majors. The weird thing about this year is how quickly the bottom fell out for Arizona. Second- and third-round picks both reached the majors, but beyond that... Absolutely nothing: forty-seven consecutive picks and six years later, not even a cup of coffee in the majors. You'd think one should have made it, somehow, but no. Only five even made it to Triple-A.

2004
1st-round pick: #15, Stephen Drew
Should have been: #65, Dustin Pedroia
Best pick: Drew or #476, Mark Reynolds
Major-leaguers:  5/50 (10%) - Garrett Mock (3rd), Ross Ohlendorf (4th), Chris Carter (17th)

16th-round selection Reynolds shows that gems can sometimes be found towards the bottom of the mine; while not the last player picked to reach the majors, he is the last to have more than a couple of hundred at-bats. Indeed, five years on, no-one after the 34th round - almost five hundred picks - has had even a single appearance in the big leagues. One wonders whether the effort down there is worth the return, in the very occasional nugget dug up.

2005
1st-round pick: #1, Justin Upton
Should have been: No arguments here
Best pick:  Three guesses
Major-leaguers: 3/52 (6%) - Micah Owings (3rd), Greg Smith (6th)

Two really good things came out of the 2004 Diamondbacks season: RJ perfect game, and the #1 pick in the 2005 draft, with which we pounced on J-Up. Our supplemental first-round pick, Matt Torra is still at Mobile (a 4.22 ERA in 12 starts this season), though is only 24. A couple of picks before Owings, we took a flier on Jason Neighborgall, and his 100+ mph fastball. Unfortunately, it didn't pan out: before retiring in 2007, in 42.1 minor-league innings, Neighborgall walked 128 batters and threw fifty-nine wild pitches.

2006
1st-round pick: #11, Max Scherzer
Should have been: #11, Max Scherzer
Best pick: #11, Max Scherzer
Major-leaguers: #11, Max Scherzer, Clay Zavada (30th)

There. That was one of the simpler entries to write, wasn't it? Obviously, we're now getting to the level where it's too much to expect all but the elite to have reached the majors. Thus far, 31% of first-round picks that year have done so, but the drop-off thereafter is steep: 9% in round two, and only one player from the third and none out of the fourth. Fun fact: we were one pick away from having Tim Lincecum drop to us in the first-round.

2007
1st-round pick: #9, Jarrod Parker
Should have been: who can say?
Best pick: Parker is looking solid enough
Major-leaguers: 1/52 (2%) - Bryan Augenstein (7th)

Parker got moved up to Double-A a month or so ago, after four starts in A-ball with a sub-one ERA. And, as we all know, after Mobile, it's next stop the majors for Diamondbacks prospects! We'll see. Odds are we'll have two rotation spots open in 2010, replacing Davis and Garland; whether Parker will be ready depends on him. He has an ERA of 3.00 in his eight Mobile starts to date. If I had to guess, I'd say if not Opening Day 2010, then at some point that season.

2008
1st-round pick: #26, Daniel Schlereth
Should have been: 
Best pick:  So far, Schlereth
Major-leaguers: 1/51 (2%) - Schlereth

While Schlereth certainly whizzed through the farm system to make his debut for the Diamondbacks a few weeks ago, he wasn't the first member from the class of 2008 to make it to the majors. That honor goes to the Giants' Conor Gillaspie, who made his debut on September 9th last year, barely three months after being picked by them in the first round. Now, that's getting fast-tracked.

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