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The Bard's Take: Final Pre-Draft Thoughts

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Tomorrow evening the Arizona Diamondbacks will make the first pick on the 2015. What do we know about the pick and what else might we be able to deduce?

For the last three weeks I have been spilling plenty of digital ink trying to bring everyone a bit of a look at what we might all expect tomorrow evening at 4 PM MST. I've presented a number of players who, in this lousy draft class, all represent different approaches the Diamondbacks could take when making their selection at 1-1. A number of things have changed in those three weeks though, and so the picture is not quite the same going into the big day tomorrow as it was when I started this series of posts. Some performances have improved, some have fallen off. Comments have been made and various talents have been personally scouted by the front office.

As a result of all this, the field has both cleared up a bit, and also become even less certain. Thus, with less than 24 hours until the big moment when Louis Gonzalez will take the podium and announce to the world who in fact, the Diamondbacks have elected to take with the 1-1 pick of the 2015 draft, we take one last look at the situation as we now know it.

Strategy:

For some teams the draft strategy is fairly clear. The Diamondbacks have chosen to play the strategy close, though they have given some insights through various interviews. Apparently, when all else is equal, position talent is preferred over pitching talent, and college talent over prep talent for proximity to the majors. Of course, these are just rough guidelines and are not public pronouncements of how the draft will play out. There also remains the question of best possible talent versus spreading the available draft pool around. While the talk out of the front office has on more than on occasion stated that there are no limits on the spending in the draft, it continues to be speculated far and wide that the Diamondbacks will seek to take advantage of the robust daft allotment tied to the 1-1 pick by taking a talent substantially under slot and then spending the remainder in later rounds on prep talent that has high future draft potential.

The Diamondbacks going the cut-rate route seems improbable, or at least ill-advised. This year's 1-1 slot allotment is set at $8,616,900. Given the talent pool represented by this draft, none of the selections is the sort to command upwards of $6,500,000. That means, from the extra amount left over from the first slot allotment alone, the Diamondbacks should have an excess of $2 million available to add to the funds already available to the lower round pick. This is in addition to any other very probably savings to come from other picks in the first ten rounds. There is talk that some of the elite prep talent may be looking for bonuses in the range of $4-5 million. These talents are not going to fall to the lower rounds though. These talents are the likes of Daz Cameron and Kolby Allard, the kind that are still going in the first round, and not falling to the Diamondbacks at #43 or even deeper.

It is all well and good to set aside extra money to sign a second potential high round pick in the later rounds. The major risk involved here is that the Diamondbacks have zero control outside of their own pick over who will be available on the board at #43. Those players that would be a great catch at #43 for the Diamondbacks, are just as good of a catch for other teams picking #2-42. At #43, there is unlikely to be a top-30 in the draft class talent left on the board. Even looking deeper, the talent ranked in the top 50 has little to offer that screams out that the team will need to go significantly above slot in order to sign a prepster away from college. While I am not the team's accountant, the #43 pick comes with its own allotment of $1, 431,400. If the team has already saved $2 million on the 1-1 pick, that is a ton of money to throw at a player not ranked as a top-50 HS talent.

It may be that the team is looking to have more money for the deep rounds from 6-10, but for every non-elite player drafted ahead of those rounds, there will be more slot money saved.

The bottom line - the team should take whichever talent it likes best at 1-1 and not be concerned with their draft pool. There will be more than enough money to go around.

The Prospects:

Word has it that the Diamondbacks have made settled on their selection already. There are further reports that five players have been reached out to by the Diamondbacks to engage in discussions about being drafted 1-1. Of course, the team is not divulging who those talents are, but we can make a fairly educated guess at this point. Since the team has continued to deny any interest in Brendan Rodgers, and Dave Stewart went out to go see both Garrett Whitley and Tyler Stephenson, we can make some educated guesses nonetheless. The five players most likely on the list are:

  • Dillon Tate
  • Dansby Swanson
  • Tyler Stephenson
  • Garrett Whitley
  • Tyler Jay

That list also reflects the likelihood I think of the possible 1-1 choices based on what we know or at least have reason to suspect regarding the team's intentions. Noticeably absent from that top-5 grouping are Brendan Rodgers and Carson Fulmer.

The following is my list of top-5 choices for 1-1 in the draft:

  • Carson Fulmer
  • Dansby Swanson
  • Brendan Rodgers
  • Dillon Tate
  • Tyler Jay

I still like pitching over hitting. There is no substitute for a constant influx of exceptionally talented pitching. Despite the Diamondbacks' depth in terms of pitching on the farm, that depth could (and quite possibly will) be gone by this time next season. I also have more concerns about Rodgers' ability to reach his peak than I do Swanson. If I had a similar feeling of success coming from Rodgers, he would be my 1-1 choice, as his most significant difference from Swanson is that he projects to hit for power as a heart of the order bat. Those are much more difficult to find and cultivate than fleet-footed run scorers. I also have less concerns about Fulmer's endurance than others. His comps at the top end are the sort of pitcher a team can be built around. At worst, he is another quality arm to eat up innings that could reach the show a full season earlier than Tate.

All-in-all, tomorrow should be an exciting day for the Diamondbacks franchise and its fan base. We should all also know a bit more about the team's philosophy for the team moving forward based upon what sorts of players the team selects over the next few days.