The first pick went to the Houston Astros, who are now the obvious favorite to win the American League West in 2015 - after all, it only took the Nationals two years to go from #1 overall to winning their division. They selected pitcher Mark Appel from Stanford: not quite what you'd think of as a baseball powerhouse, but they were responsible for Mike Mussina and Jack McDowell, as well as Diamondbacks Carlos Quentin, John Hester and former GM A.J. Hinch. Appel had actually been a first-round pick last year, going 8th to the Pirates, but he didn't sign, and that appears to have worked out for him, as he went first overall this time round.
Picking behind them were the Cubs, who went with third-baseman Kris Bryant, out of the University of San Diego. Described by John Sickels as "a 6-5, 205 bruiser," who has been compared to Troy Glaus. The Rockies went with another pitcher, Jonathan Grey from Oklahoma, who had tested positive for Adderal in the pre-draft screenings. It's a stimulant, but has legiimate medical uses, and can also be used to treat ADHD. The Twins had the fourth pick, and chose the first high-school player of the day, Kohl Stewart from Tomball in Texas, who's a right-handed pitcher, with "number one starter potential" by Sickels - though at this point, potential is everything and nothing.
First round: Braden Shipley
Let's get down to what you want to hear about: the D-backs' pick at #15, right-handed pitcher Braden Shipley from Nevada - whom, it appears, is the cousin of Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jordan Shipley. You should already have read John's analysis of this, which now comes with comments from Shipley himself and scouting director Ray Montgomery. So I'll cover the commentary from outside the fanbase, and the general consensus is that Arizona was fortunate to find Shipley still on the board. Some estimates had him going as early as fifth, which is why Sickels feels "he could be very good value here."
Baseball Prospectus discussed Shipley in some detail, and though they had concerns about his limited body of experience and potential durability - in part due to his recent conversion from a shortstop to a starting pitcher - they respected his upside as well. They concluded, "As he continues to mature and build up endurance, Shipley's athleticism should aide the efforts in growing and refining the quality of his arsenal, including consistency of execution, and the upside is a front-end arm with a plus-plus fastball, plus to plus-plus change, and above-average breaking ball." Even if that fails, they consider him "a good candidate for late inning work."
I also note that his (recently retired) coach in Nevada, Gary Powers, spoke almost as glowingly about Shipley's intangibles as his on-field abilities - one wonders if this played into the Diamondbacks' selection. Powers said, "I’ve got to tip my hat to him—he hasn’t let all this attention he’s getting distract him from what he’s trying to do for our team. He’s very good that way. He’s accepted a leadership role; he leads by example. He’s an emotional guy, and he’s a good clubhouse guy, too." Oh, and if you want to jump on the social media bandwagon early, Shipley is on Twitter, using the handle @shipley25 there. Here's an interview with our first-round pick:
Supplemental round: Aaron Blair
Thanks to the Competitive Balance Lottery, Arizona got a bonus pick between rounds, and that was used on another pitcher, right-hander Aaron Blair. As John noted, Blair is another prospect who tested positive for Adderal. Baseball America wrote, "A source close to Blair said his positive test also resulted from a one-time indiscretion and that no teams had expressed any concerns about it.": And Wailord knew him in high school from when they were in Las Vegas! Small world... Blair was drafted three years ago by the Astros, in the 21st round, but opted for college instead, and his 1.17 ERA in the Cape Cod League led pitchers there.
Described as "sturdy" and "with a frame built to soak up innings". His fastball is described as "heavy" by more than one report, and has a decent change-up to go along with that. There's some discussion that his arsenal might be better suited to a slider as a third pitch, rather than a curveball, but Blair hasn't yet been convinced of that, saying, "I (tried throwing it) in high school and I wasn't really a big fan of it. When I came here, they wanted to try a slider, but I felt more comfortable just throwing three pitches and getting better with those three." He's on Twitter (@A_Blair19) too, and there's plenty of video, for those interested: this is Blair pitching in the Cape Cod League last August:
Second round: Justin Williams
Arizona picked their first position player at #52, and rolled the dice on - stop me if any of this sounds familiar [it clearly did to those in the draft thread!] - a high-school shortstop with a great deal of potential, called Justin, who'll probably end up being an outfielder. However, this one is much less of a sure thing. Indeed, when our colleagues over at Crawfish Boxes looked at Williams, they had major qualms about his tools, saying that "outside of Williams' raw power and size, his prospect resume is underwhelming," and that are is "serious concern as to whether Williams will make enough contact against advanced pitching."
However, as John mention in his overview, Williams isn't even eighteen at this point, and so is somebody who could end up with a skill set that's significantly different from the one he currently possesses. There seems general agreement that he has a lot of potential, but there will certainly be a lot of work needed before that can be converted into anything approaching a major-league ballplayer. Sickels liked Williams a lot, saying he "looks like a future middle of the order hitter" and "has the most power of any high school draft prospect for 2013." Here's video of Williams in action:
We'll be back tomorrow with another draft thread, this one covering the second day's action, and updates throughout the day as the Diamondbacks select more future prospects.