I have yet to see more than one mock draft predict the same player for the Dbacks in round one. This doesn't surprise me because this year's talent pool is very evenly balanced from picks 5 through 25. The prospect rankings from one service to the next are all over the board. Thus predicting who the Dbacks take in round one will be at best a poorly educated guess. Let's take a look at who might be available when the Dbacks pick then I'll talk about who I like in that spot.
As I mentioned above, the top pitching talent will be gone by the 15th pick in the draft. The only pitchers who might be available when the Dbacks pick include Ryne Stanek from Arkansas, Alex Gonzalez from Oral Roberts, and a few high school pitchers such as Ian Clarkin, Phil Bickford, and Rob Kaminsky. I don't see the Dbacks going for a high school pitcher in this spot so I'm going to discount those. Stanek has a great fastball and a nice assortment of secondary pitches include a plus slider. But he hasn't gotten the kinds of swing and miss totals one would expect and his delivery is quirky leading some to think he's a future reliever. I don't think the Dbacks want a future reliever with their first pick.
Alex Gonzalez is being mocked for the Dbacks by Keith Law. Gonzalez doesn't have a lot of holes in his game with his good fastball/slider combination and solid mechanics. But he doesn't smell like a high upside guy with a low 90s fastball and lack of pitching against top competition. I'm going to say no to Gonzalez.
Looking at the prospect lists, it seems more likely that a high upside position player will end up in the Dbacks laps. There are rumblings that both Austin Meadows and Hunter Renfroe have the potential to slide as neither is a sure-fire future major leaguer. Meadows isn't a lock to remain in center field as he fills out and his athleticism takes the subsequent hit. This might cause him to drift down boards even though he has the bat to play corner outfield according to scouts. In the end, while he may slide some, I don't see him sliding all the way to the Dbacks.
Missisippi State's Hunter Renfroe ranks just behind Meadows and projects to right field with significant power potential. He has good athleticism and a powerful arm so he won't be a defensive liability. Scouts do feel he'll bring a lot of swing-and-miss to the table but they like his approach and potential to overcome that. Renfroe won't need to slide nearly as much to make it to the Dbacks at 15 and if he does I think he's the pick. he fits the team's one organizational need and has the kind of upside the Dbacks can afford to gamble on.
Assuming Meadows and Renfroe don't get to the Dbacks, you're now looking at guys like Dominic Smith (HS first baseman), D.J. Peterson (3B out of New Mexico), J.P. Crawford (the top HS shortstop), and Eric Jagielo (Notre Dame 3B) being on the board at #15. Everything about Crawford rates as average and don't see him as the high upside guy the Dbacks want in the first round. But if everyone else they like is gone he is a possibility.
Eric Jagielo has an advanced bat that can produce both power and average, but his defense is suspect and he's a poor runner. I don't think the Dbacks will take a poor-fielding third baseman in the first round. D.J. Peterson is the same with perhaps an even more advanced bat than Jagielo. I don't think he's the pick either. Dominic Smith on the other hand is a sweet-swinging first baseman who has gold glove potential at first base. He could possibly move to left or right field but would be a below average defender there. I like Smith a lot at #15 as he could be the heir apparent in 4-5 years for Goldschmidt and could handle corner outfield in a pinch for a few years if he arrives quickly.
A wild-card, high upside pick could be LHP Sean Manea who was rated to go in the first five picks coming into the season after a spectacular summer in the Cape Cod League. But an injured ankle in March led to hip problems and he hasn't been the same this season. The concern is Manea could opt to return to college for his senior season to regain his draft value. Rumors have Manea potentially even falling out of the first round, in which case he almost certainly would return to college. This is the kind of high upside pick the Dbacks can afford to make.
Some sleepers that the Dbacks could also take include high school catcher Nick Cliufo, Samford OF Phil Ervin, and East Central CC SS Tim Anderson. Of those Anderson is my personal favorite being a shortstop with athleticism and plus speed to play CF. He may not be quite good enough to stay at SS but could be a plus defender at 2B, 3B or anywhere else on the field. He has developing power and an advanced hitting approach. He's being compared to Brandon Phillips or a fast Orlando Hudson. I think he's a perfect fit for the organization with a lot of upside who can play almost anywhere on the diamond, including shortstop.
Cliufo is considered the best all-around catcher in the draft with a good combination of receiving skills, arm strength, fringe power and leadership skills. Considering the organization's depth at catcher could take a sudden hit if Trahan moves to the outfield and Perez can't get past the mid-levels with his bat, Cliufo would make perfect sense to help solve that problem.
With all those names to consider, I think the Dbacks first round pick comes from this list, and I would be happy with any of them. If forced to make a single name prediction, I'll go with Dominic Smith.
- Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson HS, GA
- Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State
- Dominic Smith, 1B, JSerra HS, CA
- Nick Cliufo, C, Lexington HS, SC
- Tim Anderson, SS, East Central CC, Miss.
- Sean Manea, LHP, Indiana State