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Power-ranking the Arizona Diamondbacks 1st-round draft picks

The Diamondbacks have had twenty picks in the first round of the MLB draft. How have we done with our previous choices?

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  • We did not have a first-round pick in 1998, because it went to the Royals for us signing Jay Bell.
  • The same happened in 2000, when it went to the Braves for... Er, Russ Springer. I'm sure it made sense at the time. Oh, and Atlanta used our pick to draft some guy called Adam Wainwright. Ouch.
  • However, in 2003 and 2009, the reverse happened and we gained an additional picks, from the Mariners (Greg Colbrunn) and Dodgers (Orlando Hudson) respectively.
  • For each player, is listed the year, overall pick #, name, drafted position, bWAR to date if any, and school.
  • Rankings are based on overall career value, projected if necessary, and not restricted to their time with Arizona.
  • Only pure first-round picks are included, not supplemental picks, so you won't see the likes of Wade Miley, Andrew Chafin or Archie Bradley. First-round picks received from other teams are listed.

1. 2006, 11, Max Scherzer, RHP, 26.4, University of Missouri Columbia
The only one of our first-round picks to win a major MLB award, the 2013 Cy Young winner is now in his prime, having put up almost 15 WAR since the start of that season. He turns 31 in July, so should be able to generate a significant amount more, though whether it'll be enough to justify the F-sized contract to which Washington signed him, remains to be seen.

2. 2005, 1, Justin Upton, SS, 22.1, Great Bridge HS (Chesapeake VA)
Upton will be 28 in August. Twenty-eight. Damn. Remember when he made his major-league debut, the sole player in team history to do so as a teenager? [Bryce Harper is the only younger debutant since 2001 in the NL.] His career seems to be settling down into the upper end of good, and I think he should end up with a WAR of around forty, if he can stay healthy.

3. 2009, 17, A.J. Pollock, CF, 9.0, University of Notre Dame (South Bend IN)
There is a fair drop-off after the top two, and you could argue just about any order for the next three picks, but I have a sneaking suspicion Pollock will end up being the best of the lot. He adds value in so many ways - hitting for average, decent power, very good defense at a premium position, excellent base-running - that it should help produce for some time to come. Ceiling? Steve Finley, who had 11.5 WAR through his age 27 season, and ended with 44.

4. 2011, 3, Trevor Bauer, RHP, 2.1, University of California Los Angeles
While there are plenty of picks who have delivered more WAR than Bauer, it's easy to forget his age: Enrique Burgos is a couple of months older than Bauer. However, many have been much more productive: 18 currently active pitchers put up 10+ WAR through their age 24 seasons - including Trevor Cahill - so it's far from a sure thing that Bauer will end up among the elite.

5. 2004, 15, Stephen Drew, SS, 16.1, Florida State University
Still playing, but I think the WAR tally is unlikely to increase much, with Drew below replacement level since the beginning of 2014. As with Upton, startling to realize Stephen turned 32 in March, though he still looks fresh off the Little League team. Somewhere, in an attic at Yankee Stadium, a portrait of Drew is growing wrinkles...

6. 2003, 29, Carlos Quentin, OF, 10.4, Stanford University (Palo Alto CA)
As we documented early in May, Quentin's story is a sad case of potential derailed by an almost constant struggle to stay healthy. Lasting only nine seasons, he averaged just 93 games a year: with better health allowing both full-time play and an extended career, Quentin's final WAR tally could conceivably have ended up being twice as much as the actual figure.

7. 2013, 15, Braden Shipley, RHP, University of Nevada-Reno
8. 2014, 16, Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs Chr. Academy (Coral Springs FL)

9. 2013, 36, Aaron Blair, RHP, Marshall University
I'm lumping all three together, ordered purely by their overall spot in the draft, since they are too recent to get much of a handle on separating them, and how much they will be able to produce for us at the major-league level. While I obviously hope for better, I think careers in the 10 WAR range for them are reasonable projections, though odds against all three achieving that. Blair and Shipley, having already negotiated the minefield of the lower farm system, are teetering on the edge of the majors, which will naturally provide the most stringent test.

10. 1997, 30, Jack Cust, 1B, 9.3, Immaculata HS (Somerville NJ)
One of the least-significant Diamondbacks of all times - only four position players have had less than his three PA - he was dealt to the Rockies in January 2002 as part of a deal for Mike Myers. Oh, how the mighty are fallen. All that WAR basically came during 2007-10 with Oakland, where he was a) overall decent, and b) mostly a DH. These two things are very much connected.

11. 2007, 9, Jarrod Parker, RHP, 6.1, Norwell HS (Ossian IN)
Sad fact: it's quite possible we may never see Parker pitch in the major-leagues again, after two Tommy Johns and, a couple of days ago, surgery to repair a fracture of his throwing elbow sustained here [NSFL]. I hope he recovers and proves me wrong, but at this point, I can't honestly say I expect any significant more production from Parker.

12. 2003, 19, Conor Jackson, 1B, 2.3, University of California Berkeley
See also our piece on the Three Amigos, and how a fungal infection likely robbed the D-backs of the best of Cojack's talents. As an aside, it's sad to realize that of the twenty players listed here, only three (Upton, Pollock and Drew and Jackson) produced more than a couple of wins in value for the team which drafted them.

13, 2010, 6, Barret Loux, RHP, Texas A&M University
This is hard to call. On the one hand, it sucked, because health issues meant we backed away, slowly, from Loux, our check-book firmly closed. On the other, we got a compensatory pick for not signing him, so effectively became Bradley. Donning my tin-foil hat, was that the aim all along? Though our concern seems not unfounded: he missed all last year after TJ surgery, and hasn't pitched for a month, leaving an April 24 start with - yep - an elbow issue.

14. 2001, 22, Jason Bulger, RHP, 0.7, Valdosta State University
I was surprised to learn Bulger was still trying to make it back to the majors as recently as spring last year, finally calling it quits after being unable to return from shoulder surgery. He was decent out of the bullpen for the Angels in 2009, the only time in seven seasons he threw more than 25 major-league innings. Good raw stuff (10.6 K/9 in the minors), could never harness it consistently.

15. 2008, 26, Daniel Schlereth, LHP, 0.0, University of Arizona
A largely-forgotten cog in the Scherzer trade to the Tigers, Schlereth hasn't appeared in the majors since April 2012. He's still rattling about, having been added this week to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs roster, after being released by the Tigers at the end of spring training.

16. 2009, 16, Bobby Borchering, 3B, Bishop Verot HS (Fort Myers FL)
There is, I suppose, a chance Borchering will make it to the majors, but it's approaching six years since he was drafted, still hasn't played above Double-A and is currently batting .176 in High-A on the Detroit farm. He did hit 24 homers in 2012, but that came with a strikeout rate of 30%, and injury has severely restricted his playing-time since. Hard to see him making it to the show.

17. 2012, 26, Stryker Trahan, C, Acadiana HS
Almost Borchering v2.0, Trahan has so far proved a one-dimensional player, with little to offer save power. In his defense, youth is on his side - he only turned 21 last month, so is younger than some we'll draft next month. But that excuse is growing increasingly stale, and much as I would love to be proved wrong, an OPS of below .700 both last year and this do not bode well for the future.

18. 1996, 30, Nick Bierbrodt, LHP, -1.0, Millikan HS (Long Beach CA)
Our first ever first-rounder and... yeah, it didn't work out, though Bierbrodt hung around in pro ball until as recently as the end of 2011. Might things have been different, if he hadn't been shot in 2002, while going through a Florida Hardee's drive-through lane? At the risk of getting all existential, that's the kind of thing which illustrates the tenuous nature of existence.

19. 2002, 27, Sergio Santos, SS, 2.0, Mater Dei HS (Santa Ana CA)
Should note, we discount all Santos's WAR, since it came after not only after he left Arizona, but after he gave being a position player entirely, and was converted to a reliever. Santos ended up as the White Sox closer in 2011, saving 30 games, but in more evidence of reliever volatility, his ERA over four seasons since then is 5.29.

20. 1999, 4, Corey Myers, SS, Desert Vista HS (Phoenix AZ)
Our highest pick until Upton was wasted entirely, Myers spending nine seasons and 783 games in the minor-leagues without reaching the majors. Players we could have chosen, picked after Myers? Barry Zito, Ben Sheets, Brett Myers, Jason Jennungs, Alex Rios, Brian Roberts, Carl Crawford, Brandon Phillips, Ryan Ludwick, John Lackey. And that's just the first two rounds.

That's the first round, but that's only a tiny fraction of all the players selected in the draft. What were the team's best picks overall, regardless of round? Stay tuned: coming between now and the draft, to a SnakePit near you...