The Diamondbacks’ draft history has been a bit patchwork. They’ve had some notable success outside the first round, striking gold in the form of Paul Goldschmidt and Brandon Webb. But of their 33 first-round picks thus far, less than a handful have been worth even five wins with Arizona. Some have gone on to achieve much greater success elsewhere; others have just not panned out, for one reason or another.
We’ll get to the all-bust squad tomorrow, but I thought it might be fun to put together a roster formed from the best draft picks in team history. These selections are based on the value over their entire career (to date, if appropriate), not just the amount over the time they played for the Diamondbacks. The position is generally based on where they appeared most in the majors, not necessarily where they were drafted. Most obviously, Upton was selected as a shortstop, but never played a single game there are a professional. Players obtained by other means, such as international signings, free-agency or in trades, are not included. All WAR is bWAR.
- C. Chris Snyder (#68, 2002) - 4.5 WAR
- 1B. Paul Goldschmidt (#246, 2009) - 31.9 WAR
- 2B. Dan Uggla (#338, 2001) - 17.6 WAR
- SS. Stephen Drew (#15, 2004) - 16.9 WAR
- 3B. Mark Reynolds (#476, 2004) - 8.6 WAR
- LF. Carlos Quentin (#29, 2003) - 10.4 WAR
- CF. Adam Eaton (#571, 2010) - 16.6 WAR
- RF. Justin Upton (#1, 2005) - 28.6 WAR
- Lyle Overbay (#538, 1999) - 16.9 WAR
- A.J. Pollock (#17, 2009) - 16.1 WAR
- Junior Spivey (#1085, 1996) - 8.2 WAR
- Scott Hairston (#98, 2001) - 6.5 WAR
- Jake Lamb (#213, 2012) - 5.9 WAR
Not quite an ideal squad of players on the bench: we don’t have a back-up catcher. I could perhaps plug Robbie Hammock in there, since he was a 23rd round pick by Arizona in 1998 but he a) was let go in January 2005, then re-signed as a free-agent three months later, so no longer qualifies by the above rules, and b) was worth 0.6 bWAR over his career. Interesting to see Eaton being more valuable than Pollock, even though he was drafted a year later. That’s as much a result of A.J’s checkered health history: he has appeared in 95 games fewer than Eaton, despite debuting almost a full season earlier.
Lamb is the most recent player to make the squad, backing up Special K at the hot corner for now. That will likely change down the line, though Reynolds is having a bit of a renaissance with the Rockies, on pace for his best season since 2009. Would likely not have guessed Uggla as third-best position player drafted by the D-backs, behind Goldschmidt and Upton. Or, at least, drafted and signed by Arizona. For the all-time #1 would be Ian Kinsler and his 54.1 WAR. We drafted him in both 2000 and 2001, but were unable to sign the four-time All Star and current Gold Glover on either occasion.
- SP1. Max Scherzer (#11, 2006) - 40.9 WAR
- SP2. Brandon Webb (#249, 2000) - 31.4 WAR
- SP3. Brad Penny (#155, 1996) - 19.2 WAR
- SP4. Wade Miley (#43, 2008) - 10.3 WAR
- SP5. Chris Capuano (#238, 1999) - 8.6 WAR
- Javier Lopez (#133, 1998) - 8.8 WAR
- Josh Collmenter (#463, 2007) - 7.5 WAR
- Bryan Shaw (#73, 2008) - 6.2 WAR
- Micah Owings (#83, 2005) - 4.0 WAR
- Mike Koplove (#883, 1998) - 3.5 WAR
- Ryan Cook (#828, 2008) - 3.2 WAR
- Brandon Medders (#248, 2001) - 2.7 WAR
Sigh. The top three in the rotation are a delicious, bitter buffet of regret and missed opportunities. One player dealt away to become a Cy Young winner in both leagues. Another whose career was abruptly ended, at or near its peak, by injury. And a third was traded as part of a deal for a reliever (Matt Mantei, to be specific) before even reaching the majors for the D-backs, going on to become a two-time All-Star who was third in Cy Young voting for 2007.
We’ve been drafting pitchers for over 20 years now, and Webb and Collmenter are the only two who have given the team five WAR. And that does not look likely to change any time soon, given the current rotation consists of nobody who is a product of the draft. Of eight starters used this year, we have one free-agent (Zack Greinke), six who were traded here, and just Braden Shipley, currently below replacement level, who was drafted by Arizona. Our relief corps isn’t much better, with Andrew Chafin and Archie Bradley the draftees to have appeared thus far out of the D-backs bullpen.
Here’s to new management changing the script, and making good choices - not just on Monday, but in terms of protecting and growing that talent as it develops.