Diamondbacks Day Two Draft Round-Up

Yeah, more draft headlines.  Just one round-up today, where I'll attempt to go over the entire day two of draft picks for the D-backs.  Don't have much info for most of these guys, but there are definitely a few names to be excited about from the crowd picked today.

NOTE: All listed system prospect rankings (for picks through the seventh round) assume that all drafted prospects are signed.

There was a definite focus on adding depth to a two areas of the system: pitching of all kinds and up-the-middle-players.  In fact, the D-backs selected nothing other than pitchers, center fielders, catchers, shortstops, and second basemen for a staggering twenty straight rounds to begin the 2011 draft.  The distribution: 14 pitchers, two center fielders, two catchers, three shortstops, and one second baseman.

 

Round 2 (pick 63) - RHP Anthony Meo, RHP

School: Coastal Carolina University

Birthday: 2/9/1990

Age: 21 years old

 

Meo was an utterly phenomenal value pick in the early second round as a college pitcher who somehow slid in the draft as teams scrambled to scoop up signable high school arms in the late first and supplemental rounds.  ESPN's Keith Law had Meo ranked 25th on his final draft board, after ranking him 19th in each of the previous three versions of the board.  Meo works with one of the better two-pitch combos of the draft, a fastball that sits 93-94 mph consistently and occasionally sitting more in the mid-90s as a starter and a breaking ball that I've heard described as both a slider (by Law) and a curveball (by BA) that can be another plus pitch.  Unfortunately, Meo has struggled with inconsistency, and his change-up is rough at best, so he would need some development time in the minors if we wanted to develop him as a starter.  However, his ceiling in that role is as a #2 or #3 starter (yeah, this guy was available in the second round... that's how good this draft is).

This, of course, brings up the big question as to how the D-backs plan on using Meo.  His development time as a starter would be much longer than if the D-backs chose to groom him as a reliever.  In the bullpen, Meo's fastball, who has reached up to 97 mph before, could consistently add a couple of miles per hour and his lack of a consistent change-up wouldn't be an issue.  His overall prospect value is likely higher in the rotation, but with an influx of three top-line starting pitching prospects into a system with already-solid starting pitching depth, he might be a better fit to Arizona if moved immediately to the bullpen.  If moved immediately to relief, Meo could be a fast-track player through the system, beginning in either Hi-A or Double-A and possibly reaching Arizona in 2012, where his arsenal gives him the upside of a legitimate closer.

I just moved Meo up several spots on my D-backs top prospects list after reconsidering his ceiling and two polished pitches, moving him up to #14.  For those counting, that means that Arizona added four prospects to the system that are now top-15 prospects in the system.  Yeah, the first four picks of this D-backs were that good.

Not going to imbed any video into this post, as it's already going to be lengthy and I don't want it to take ten years to load, but I'll post some video links.  Neither video below is great, but they give you an idea of the delivery and the kind of arm speed Meo generates through his core:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLDv9zUrTP4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k525-6oh6FU&feature=fvwrel

 

Round 3 (pick 93) - CF Justin Bianco

School: Peters Township HS (Pennsylvania)

Birthday: 8/24/1992

Age: 18 years old

 

It's hard to find too many reports on Bianco, but the ones I've found describe Bianco as a guy with average tools across the board, though the D-backs seem to think he's an above-average runner.  From the video below, it looks like Bianco played right field in high school, but when he was picked, the D-backs representative who announced the selection (probably Jerry Dipoto or Ray Montgomery) emphasized that Bianco was to be listed as a center fielder, so the organization is at least somewhat confident that he'll have the speed to to stick there.  The system is largely devoid of tools-heavy up-the-middle players, and Bianco fits that mold, joining Keon Broxton as the most toolsy center fielders in the system.  I'm pretty impressed by Bianco's swing (can be seen in the video below), as he doesn't appear to have any exaggerated timing mechanisms or wasted motions - just a short front foot stride and a clean, direct stroke with some nice bat speed.

I imagine I might be pretty bullish about Bianco, but I'm a believer in that swing and although he doesn't get great jumps on the basepaths, he does have nice closing speed that could play in center field.  I've slotted him at #30 (an impressive rank in our system) on my system prospects list, behind left-hander Patrick Schuster, though I'd be shocked if that didn't change between now and next winter when the list is published here at the 'Pit.

Video links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpR20beAyCY - just go ahead and skip the creepy shirtless workout part at the end... unless you're into that sort of thing.

 

Round 4 (pick 124) - RHP Evan Marshall

School: Kansas State

Birthday: 4/18/1990

Age: 21 years old

 

The D-backs made a big effort to improve their farm's relief corps in the earlier rounds of day two today, perhaps beginning in the second round with Meo, but certainly beginning no later than the fourth inning with Marshall.  Marshall worked as a starter for a while for Kansas State in 2010, but his stuff has seen dramatic improvements upon moving to the bullpen.  Marshall's profile is similar to that of Arizona's 2010 fourth-round pick, Kevin Munson, with a combination of a low-90's fastball and plus slider that should move quickly through the minor leagues into a possible set-up man role in the major leagues.  The one difference between the two might be that Marshall has more of a reputation as a strike-thrower, which has been Munson's biggest - and perhaps only - problem in the minor leagues.

I've slated Marshall just behind Munson on my D-backs system list, at #32, though he could probably rise above Munson if he performs well at Hi-A (if that's where he's assigned out of the gate).

Unfortunately, the only "Evan Marshall" videos on YouTube are of a mandolin player.  If someone finds a video, feel free to put in the comments.

 

Round 5 (pick 154) - C Michael Perez

School: Colegio Vocacional Para Adultos (HS - Puerto Rico)

Birthday: 8/7/1992

Age: 18 years old

 

In the fifth round, Arizona went for upside at a position in which they have next to no upside in the system, taking a young catcher/pitcher with the intent of putting him behind home plate full-time.  Predictably, Perez's pitcher-caliber arm translates to plus arm strength behind the backstop, and he has a smooth, projectable left-handed swing.  The probability is low, but M. Perez (not to be confused with Visalia catcher Rossmel Perez) is the only catcher in the system with legitimate everyday catcher potential, as R. Perez, Konrad Schmidt, Lucas May, and Raywilly Gomez look more like potential backups long-term.

Because of M. Perez's upside, even in spite of the low probability, I'm already ranking him as the best catching prospect in the system, at #35 overall in the system, several slots ahead of Rossmel Perez.

Unfortunately, it's very difficult to find video of the less-prolific Puerto Rican draft prospects, particularly when they have as generic of a name as Michael Perez.  Video clips of Perez that any of you might have found would be much-appreciated in the comments.

 

Round 6 (pick 184) - RHP Matt Price

School: University of South Carolina

Birthday: 9/8/1989

Age: 21 years old

 

Price is yet another college reliever selected by the D-backs in the single-digit rounds, as the team continues to build up some relief pitching depth in the system from its admittedly-thin pre-draft levels.  The closer for the Gamecocks, Price saw his stuff dip a bit from 2010 to 2011, which probably cost him several rounds in such a loaded draft.  Still, he sat in the low-90's with an average slider, and both pitches occasionally flashed better.  If he can regain his 2010 stuff, he likely jumps ahead of Marshall as a relief prospect with two comfortably plus pitches, but still currently profiles as a seventh- or eighth-inning man with big-game experience and some grit.

As it stands now, Price is still one of the better relief prospects in the system, currently at #38 on my list.

No video available for Price, either, in spite of his significant role on a big-college team.  Phooey.

 

Round 7 (pick 214) - CF Ben Roberts

School: Sentinel HS (Montana)

Birthday: 9/7/1992

Age: 18 years old

 

I love this pick.  Roberts faced a similar situation to Mets first-rounder Brandon Nimmo - also a high school product from Montana - in that his school did not have a baseball team.  Yep, Roberts didn't play any high school baseball outside of AAU action, so the fact that Arizona was on Roberts shows that their scouts were busy working to dig up even the most obscure of talent.  Roberts was a three-sport star as a high school, playing basketball and football at his school along with his AAU baseball action.  Predictably, he is a big, strong, athletic kid who the D-backs have listed as a center fielder but may end up in a corner position.

Roberts has plenty of raw power, and strikes me as a sort of poor-man's version of 2010 draft pick Ty Linton, who is one of the premier prospects in the Arizona system.  Roberts might be a tough sign, as he could elect to go to college with the goal of improving his stock and increasing his potential bonus money.  If the D-backs are convinced that his physical ability can translate into regular game activity, they could have found one of the bigger steals of the the draft.

If the D-backs are able to sign Roberts, he would slot for me at #36 in the system, with the ability to rocket up the list (or down) if short-season scouting reports for his pro debut are strong (or weak).

Hey, I found a video link!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VC8yHy8xDiQ

 

Round 8 (pick 244) - RHP Jesse Darrah

School: Fresno Pacific University

Birthday: 3/28/1990

Age: 21 years old

 

Round 9 (pick 274) - SS John Leonard

School: Connellsville Area School (Pennsylvania)

Birthday: 6/25/1992

Age: 18 years old

 

The D-backs area scout covering the Pennsylvania area had a big day in the draft room, with two high school kids being taken from that region in the first nine rounds.  Leonard might be a difficult sign, and is considered a player who could benefit from going to college - he's committed to go to NC State - and adding strength to his slight frame.  If Arizona can sign him, though, they could get a young kid who has a real shot of sticking at the position in the long run, adding to a nice bevy of young, high-upside shortstops in the low levels of the system, including top prospect Chris Owings and high-upside teenager Raul Navarro.

 

Round 10 (pick 304) - RHP Kyle Winkler

School: Texas Christian University

Birthday: 6/18/1990

Age: 20 years old

 

Winkler is a very interesting choice here, and you can't argue with the logic of taking him in the tenth round.  He served as the de facto ace of the TCU team this year after Matt Purke went down with shoulder issues early in the season, and performed admirably.  His heavy low-to-mid-90's sinker is a plus pitch, and he features two average or slightly-below-average off-speed offerings when he's right.  Unfortunately, it looks like Winkler might not be right for quite a while - he left his most recent start early with an apparent elbow injury, and might require Tommy John surgery if the medicals indicate a worst-case scenario.  Prior to the injury, Winkler looked like he might be a supplemental round pick, so it was a massive case of bad timing for the right-hander.

The D-backs will likely take their time looking into Winkler's medicals to see if he is worthy of the above-slot bonus it would require to sign him.  If he checks out and won't require surgery, the D-backs could have a steal in the tenth round.  If the medicals are concerning, the D-backs might choose to walk away with just a tenth-round pick lost.  If Winkler requires Tommy John surgery... well, this is pure speculation, but things could get interesting.  He could opt to sign with the D-backs for a reduced bonus prior to having the surgery, allowing the club to pay for the surgery and taking in some guaranteed bonus money in exchange for committing to give the team a potential discount rate at signing a legitimate starting pitching talent.

Video links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n-qDpu-pl4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rocfdf72Qjg&feature=related

 

Round 11 (pick 334) - LHP William Locante

School: Cumberland University

Birthday: 2/2/1990

Age: 21 years old

 

Round 12 (pick 364) - SS Josh Parr

School: University of Illinois

Birthday: 9/11/1989

Age: 21 years old

 

Parr is a guy with a legitimate chance to stick at shortstop in pro ball, but there are serious questions about his bat.  He's a speedster with solid instincts for stealing bases, but was a regular 9-hitter as a Sophomore for Illinois.  It's hard to be particularly excited about the offensive potential of a college kid who was a back-of-the-lineup hitter in college.  If there's a miracle in the development of his bat, we could have something here, but he looks like little more than a poor man's Augie Ojeda.  Granted, big league teams do need utility infielders.

 

Round 13 (pick 394) - LHP John Pedrotty

School: College of the Holy Cross

Birthday: 11/28/1989

Age: 21 years old

 

Mostly a first basemen in high school, Pedrotty spent slightly more time as a pitcher late in his high school career and has seen rapid development in the time since.  A lefty with average velocity that can creep into the low-90's and plays up since he's a lefty, Pedrotty has a usable change-up but needs to tighten his curveball before having a future as a big-league starter.  His frame is more than adequate for a big-league starter, standing at 6'3" and 220 pounds, so there's a legitimate back-end workhorse somewhere in here if the off-speed offerings allow it.

 

Round 14 (pick 424) - RHP Cody Geyer

School: Walters State Community College

Birthday: 5/4/1992

Age: 19 years old

 

Round 15 (pick 454) - C Steven Rodriguez

School: UCLA

Birthday: 1/8/1990

Age: 21 years old

 

Well, when you have front office people see the guy who became your choice at #3 overall for all of his starts in the college season, you're also going to get a very good look at the catcher who caught that guy's games.  That's exactly what happened with the D-backs, who got a good glimpse at Rodriguez every time they saw that Trevor Bauer guy pitch.  In spite of Rodriguez's disappointing season at the plate - his season line was a rather depressing .196/.294/.230 - he received the elite stuff of Bauer and Gerrit Cole exceptionally well over the course of the year, and is considered an exceptional blocker and accurate thrower.  If the bat ever becomes tolerable, and there's already some patience to work with, the glove will make him a big-league backup.

Video links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDoHH5wTqxk - This video shows one of the big problems contributing to Rodriguez's struggles at the plate, as his back leg completely collapses as he follows through on the final swing (when he makes contact).  This type of back-side collapse is sapping Rodriguez of power and making it more difficult for him to make contact.  Not saying fixing this will cure all ails, but it'll probably help.

 

Round 16 (pick 484) - LHP Michael Blake

School: University of Hawaii

Birthday: 8/4/1990

Age: 20 years old

 

Round 17 (pick 514) - LHP Adam Choplick

School: Billy Ryan HS (Texas)

Birthday: 11/18/1992

Age: 18 years old

 

Now this is a pick we can all get excited for.  For one, his name is Adam Choplick.  For two, he's a 6'9", 250-pound behemoth All-State power forward on the basketball team from Texas, so we sign him and he hits the Show, Mark Grace will be beside himself with excitement, and that's a great thing.  For three, Tommy John surgery is already in the past, so if we're confident that his stuff and command are workable, we can feel more comfortable in knowing that the odds that he'll need the surgery again are reduced.  For four, his third start back from the surgery was a 16-strikeout, 71-pitch perfect game.  For five, he's back throwing 89-91 with projectability left and nice downward plane (of course) on his fastball, already average velocity for a starter that will play up from the left side.  For six, Choplick has a workable delivery and and is able to repeat it well for someone his size.

Now, before I drive you all insane stretching this extremely unfunny and unwitty literary device I've conjured up, it needs to be said that Choplick is by no means perfect.  He still has very little feel for any off-speed offering, which he'll need two of if he's going to be a big-league starter.  Additionally, he might want to go to college in order to polish his off-speed pitches before re-entering the draft in 2014 with the chance of being a top pick and earning more money, so signability could be a factor.  In a standard draft, I imagine that he'd be much more sought-after than in this year's pitching-deep 2011 class, but the strong class and his recent surgery have given Arizona the opportunity to land a real high-upside talent in the middle rounds of the draft.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any video of Choplick - I was really hoping I could see video of the big fella pitching.

 

Round 18 (pick 544) - Taylor Siemens

School: California Baptist University

Birthday: 7/1/1989

Age: 21 years old

 

Prior to the draft, the D-backs' system as largely devoid of left-handed relief, even guys who profiled as lefty specialists.  There's a reason why we needed to spend our Rule 5 draft selection to get Joe Paterson from the Giants to fill that role in the big leagues.  Enter Siemens (as well as 11th-round pick Will Locante), who works with fringe-average stuff from a low-3/4 arm slot - the type of arsenal that wouldn't get drafted if he were right-handed, but has legitimate value in a left-handed arm.

 

Round 19 (pick 574) - 2B Danny Pulfer

School: University of Oregon

Birthday: 2/16/1990

Age: 21 years old

 

Round 20 (pick 604) - SS Tommy Williams

School: Palm Beach Gardens HS (California)

Birthday: 3/11/1993

Age: 18 years old

 

Williams is on the tall side for a shortstop at 6'2", but has the arm for the position and some tools at the plate that could make for a good hitter.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if he wound up at third base, where it would be much more difficult for the bat to play.  As with most double-digit round high school picks, signability will be a legitimate concern, as he could dramatically increase his payday by going to school and having a good year against better competition.  Still, it's nice to see the D-backs making some serious upside picks in the middle rounds of the draft.

 

Round 21 (pick 634) - 1B Jon Griffin

School: University of Central Florida

Birthday: 4/29/1989

Age: 22 years old

 

As mentioned at the beginning of the post, this was the first pick in this year's draft that the D-backs took something other than a pitcher or an up-the-middle player, nabbing an old college first baseman.  Griffin used to be a highly-regarded amateur pitching prospect, but an inability to recover fully from shoulder injuries put him in the field, where he reinvented himself as a power bat with nice bat speed.  He's not the best hitter for average, but he does have raw power, and the D-backs have had success in the past few years drafting power-only players like Yazy Arbelo and that one Paul Goldschmidt guy.  Griffin is old for a newly-drafted player, so we'll probably have to wait through a couple years of lower-level dominance before we see him play against any age-appropriate competition, but it does seem that the organization is pretty solid at identifying good first base prospects in the later rounds of the draft.

Video links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoRP0E8qu0c&feature=related - Welp, he can destroy mistake pitches, like this first-pitch hanging breaking ball - which he stays back on pretty nicely - with the bases loaded...

 

Round 22 (pick 664) - SS Garret Weber

School: Fresno State University

Birthday: 3/29/1989

Age: 22 years old

 

Round 23 (pick 694) - 3B Ryan Court

School: Illinois State

Birthday: 5/28/1988

Age: 23 years old

 

A fifth-year senior, Court is very old to be just entering the minor leagues.  However, he does possess some legitimate offensive skills, as demonstrated by his .323/.460/.533 line this year.  Baseball America suggests that a conversion to catching is a possibility, and the D-backs might look at that possibility with their lack of depth at the position in the system.  With Court's age, though, learning a new position in the minors - and one of the most difficult to learn, at that - would really put him on an interesting timetable.

 

Round 24 (pick 724) - RHP Matt Ogden

School: Smoky Hills HS (Colorado)

Birthday: 9/18/1992

Age: 18 years old

 

Round 25 (pick 754) - OF George Williams

School: North Carolina State

Birthday: 6/23/1990

Age: 20 years old

 

Round 26 (pick 784) - RHP Austin Platt

School: No School

Birthday: 3/5/1992

Age: 19 years old

 

Round 27 (pick 814) - RHP Wyatt Strahan

School: Villa Park HS (California)

Birthday: 4/18/1993

Age: 18 years old

 

Round 28 (pick 844) - RHP Truman Sample

School: Rogers State

Birthday: 8/16/1988

Age: 22 years old

 

Round 29 (pick 874) - 3B Carter Bell

School: Oregon State

Birthday: 6/12/1990

Age: 20 years old

 

Round 30 (pick 904) - RHP Dexter Price

School: University of South Carolina Beaufort

Birthday: 8/8/1990

Age: 19 years old

 

That wraps up day two.  Lots of high school talent selected here, but we'll have to wait and see how many of those guys the D-backs are able to sign and get into the system.  Final day of the draft is tomorrow - I doubt I'm going to put up any sort of day three thread since most of those drafted are filler and unsignable local high school kids, but I'll put up a quick recap post tomorrow night listing the selected names.

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