No one would have believed, in the fifteenth year of the twenty-first century that young baseball players were being watched from the timeless worlds of MLB. No one could have dreamed that they were being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of intelligent life in baseball front offices and yet, across the gulf of the Internet, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded the world of college and prep sports with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against it...[With apologies to H.G.Wells]
The final mock drafts are out, and it's not quite as unanimous as it was before. While many still expect us to select Swanson the shortstop, there's now significant suggestion that we may zag when others expect us to zig. Though only one draft is brave enough actually to predict an alternative #1...
John Manuel, Baseball America - Tyler Stephenson, C, Kennesaw Mountain (Ga.) HS
"Last week, our information had Arizona focused on three players: Jay, Swanson and Georgia prep catcher Tyler Stephenson. One source says GM Dave Stewart prefers Fulmer, whom we had going No. 1 three weeks ago, to Jay, but he has not won over the rest of the Diamondbacks’ decision-makers, such as Tony La Russa. But more and more sources indicate Swanson is the fall-back plan here, with Stephenson, on a deal that would save the Diamondbacks more money for later selections, more likely to go first overall. He’d be the first prep catcher to go that high since Joe Mauer in 2001."
Jim Callis, MLB.com - Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
"The industry believes the D-backs clearly prefer Swanson to the Draft's top-rated prospect, Lake Mary (Fla.) High shortstop Brendan Rodgers. If Arizona can't agree on financial parameters with Swanson, it could turn to Illinois left-hander Tyler Jay or take a steep discount with Kennesaw Mountain High (Kennesaw, Ga.) catcher Tyler Stephenson."
John Sickels, Minor League Ball - Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
"Persistent rumors indicate that Georgia high school catcher Tyler Stephenson may be the pick, but those rumors blow hot and cold and I’d like to hear what’s said over the weekend. High school catching is a risky demographic. The only consensus seems to be that Brendan Rodgers, regarded by many as the best player in the draft, won’t be the choice. For now I will stick with Swanson, linked to the top spot for longer than Stephenson has been."
"It seems like every player listed on a top-100 list has been connected to Arizona at one point or another. The consensus seems to be Arizona has a desire to sign someone under slot but who also wants to go the college route. Swanson is the best, most polished college bat available."
The benefit of choosing Stephenson, who is regarded as one of the best high-school catchers in a while, is that he would be significantly cheaper to sign than the college prospects. The team could then use the money saved to be more aggressive with players later in the draft. However, much as the team needs catching, Stephenson would not be able to help them for a good few seasons, even if he matures as expected. The general wisdom with regard to picking at the top of the draft, is also to select the best available player, rather than picking based on any apparent "need" or for other
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, have done a good job of maintaining a poker-face in regard to who they might select tomorrow. Dave Stewart has seen just about all the leading candidates in person. But, interestingly, if there's no obvious quality at the very top of the draft, Stewart seems to think it may be deeper, ssaying, "There are going to be some outstanding big league players that get picked after the 10th round I challenged our guys to make sure we turned over every stone when it came to guys we're going to pick lower in the draft." Personally, I'd be targeting the 8th round in particular, seeing as that provided us with both Brandon Webb and Paul Goldschmidt...
Worth noting, although later in the draft, is the Diamondbacks honoring Cory Hahn by naming their 34th-round pick after him. Hahn, who wore #34 while playing for ASU, was paralyzed from the chest down in the third game of his freshman season, after breaking his neck sliding into second-base. After missing a year of school, he returned to college, and became a symbol of inspiration for his courage and perseverance. The D-backs acknowledged Hahn by selecting him with their 34th round pick in 2013, and after graduating the following year, Hahn accepted a job in Arizona's scouring department.
Said Hahn, "There aren't many times when I'm speechless but when Tony La Russa made the announcement in the draft room I was left speechless with a smile going from ear to ear. This is an extremely humbling gesture and an honor for not only myself but my family as well. I'm beyond grateful to be a part of the D-backs family." I wondered who the best player from the 34th round has been: checking back, I saw a few who were picked there, but didn't sign at that point e.g. Scott Erickson and Alex Avila, but I think the top one is probably Dan Wheeler, who was picked there by the Rays in 1996, and played 13 years as a reliever in the majors, with an ERA+ of 110.
Coverage begins on the MLB Network tomorrow afternoon, with a preview show at 3pm, taking us through the hour up until the draft itself starts at 4pm. Obviously, we won't have to wait long past that to find out who the D-backs pick! That evening covers everything through the first two rounds, plus the Competitive Balance picks. Day 2 sees the third through the tenth rounds, beginning at 10am Eastern on MLB.com, and the remainder of the draft, rounds 11-40, are on Wednesday from 9am, again on MLB.com. We will be here, with our own draft threads and reports on all three days: James will be your draftmaster, while I arrange posts in the background!