With seven picks on the first night of the draft and all the bonus pool money that comes with them, the Arizona Diamondbacks have had their name attached to nearly every sort of prospect at almost every pick they are going to get. Still there are a few things that make enough sense to list as some firm predictions. First, the Diamondbacks will be aggressive in using their sizeable draft bonus pool. In order for that to hold true, it means looking at prep talents. While they may or may not take a prep talent at #16, it is safe to assume they will be in the market for prep talents at multiple points in the first round and also in the eleventh and twelfth rounds. Also, one of the most effective ways to be aggressive with bonus money is to find solid picks that also allow the team to horde some bonus money in order to make a larger, splashier offer later. Those sorts of bonuses go to college players, especially seniors. It would not be surprising at all if the Diamondbacks take seasoned college talent with their picks in rounds three through 10, signing each talent to no more than the slot bonus and finding a few players who will sign for a bonus-saving amount.
With all that uncertainty, it is difficult to imagine just what the Diamondbacks will do during the three days of the draft when it comes to specific names. Still, there are a handful of names that constantly seem to come up in conversations regarding the Diamondbacks and the draft, especially at the 26th pick and later. Here is a quick and dirty look at some of those names.
High School: Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, Florida, P.R.
Height/Weight: 6’1”/185 lbs.
Lugo represents the top prospect out of Puerto Rico this year. Teams looking at Lugo are those that think they can shape and mold him after they draft him. Lugo is a very raw, very toolsy talent. Some have made claim that he could be the best all-around athlete in the draft. However, despite his speed, power, and reflexes, each part of his game needs some refinement. The Diamondbacks recently had a similar “project prospect” in Gabriel Guerrero, though Lugo would be joining the club three years younger that Guerrero was when the Diamondbacks acquired via trade from Seattle.
High School: Eastlake HS, Chula Vista, Calif.
Commitment: San Diego State
Height/Weight: 6’ 1”/185 lbs.
There are many who feel that some teams may look at Cavaco as a potential 10-15 slot talent, meaning he could be off the board before Arizona gets to use their first pick. Still others feel that Cavaco represents a great target for an overslot selection for many teams in the 20-30 range, meaning the Diamondbacks might or might not see him on the board again should they pass on him at 16. Cavaco has solid tools across the board with a present 60-grade power score. Most feel that as he finishes growing into his body, that could easily turn into 70-grade power. However, he has some poor plate coverage, especially over the outer half and has struggled to hit some average high school pitching. When he is on, he is something to watch. When he isn’t, he shows flaws in his game that could scare some teams away, especially in the upper parts of the draft. With Arizona having so many early picks, they make sense as a team that could take a chance on him without sacrificing their best shot at premium talent. If Cavaco falls too far, expect him to go to San Diego State and try his luck again in three years.
High School: Morgan Academy, Selma, Ala.
Height/Weight: 6’3”/194 lbs.
Henderson represents the top prep prospect coming out of the state of Alabama this year. While he possess the range and arm for short, some scouts feel he is eventually destined for third base, where he has more than enough power to slot as a prototypical corner power bat. Most see Henderson as a day-one pick, as signability is not a great concern and he has a high potential ceiling. He could potentially be off the board by the time the Diamondbacks select at #26, or he could still be on the board when they select at #35. Pairing Cavaco and Henderson together could make for a very intriguing future left side of the infield for Arizona.
High School: New Hanover HS, Wilmington, N.C.
Commitment: North Carolina State
Height/Weight: 6’4”/172 lbs.
Walston is considered by most to be the second-best left-handed hurler among the prep ranks.It’s quite possible Walston would be ranked higher on many draft boards if not for the amount of time he spent refining his football talents as a quarterback. Walston has a solid frame and projects to be able to add another 30 pounds once he begins conditioning. He throws with a clean, repeatable delivery that allows him to be a consistent, sometimes dominating strike-thrower. Walton’s fastball currently sits between 88-91, but most scouts feel this will tick up significantly into the lower-to-mid 90s once Walston starts to fill out his frame and he shifts his focus 100% to baseball. The upside to Walston is big, making him a potential day-one pick. The lack of track record and elite tool has others pegging him as a day-two selection.
School: University of Arizona
Height/Weight: 5’10”/187 lbs.
Quintana’s calling card is his raw power. He has 55-grade power that he has shown off in-game while demonstrating that there is potentially 65-grade power hiding in that bat if he can find a way to consistently barrel up the ball. Quintan plays with a quiet confidence that scouts are very fond of, noting that no part of playing on a big stage like the Pac-12 has bothered him. Defensively, there is no doubt that Quintana will be able to stick at third where he rates as a plus defender with the glove and also possesses a strong, accurate arm. The concerns about Quintana revolve around the amount of swing-and-miss that have crept into his bat during his three years of Pac-12 play. Over that time, he has compiled a roughly 20% strikeout rate, leading some scouts to believe that he might be easy to exploit at higher levels. This shows up the most when he gets pull-happy despite having the power to easily go opposite field to right center. Quintana ranks as a top-100 talent across all boards and is expected to go in the first two rounds, but could potentially fall to round three.
School: Arizona State University
Height/Weight: 6’2”/220 lbs.
If the draft were still another full month away, Alec Marsh just might have found a way to find himself ranked among the top 50-75 prospects entering the draft. Few, if any, prospects have found the sort of helium that Marsh has over the last month or so. Having solidified himself as Arizona State’s Friday night starter, all Marsh has done since then is throw strikes and win games, including a mid-April complete game win over #3 Oregon State. While Marsh does not possess an elite pitch, what he does offer is an elite selection. Marsh throws five distinct pitches, all of which score as above average. Marsh’s four-seam fastball rates as a plus pitch and currently sits around 93-95 mph. When needed, Marsh is able to reach back and find 97. He complements this pitch with a strong two seam that has good movement and a deceptive change, both of which have good sink and with which he is able to induce many ground balls. Marsh also brings a slider that sits in the low-80s and finally, a curve which he gets plenty of buckled knees with that comes in at anywhere from 70-76 mph. He is able to throw all five pitches for strikes in any count, which helps his already good fastball play up even more. Marsh should come off the board no later than early on day two. However, with Arizona having so many picks on the first night, Marsh represents exactly the sort of player the Diamondbacks could target with one of those extra selections. As a college arm with plenty of polish, Marsh is seen as someone who could either fly through most systems as a reliever where he could focus even more on pitching in the upper 90s. There are others who feel he has enough pitches in his arsenal that relief pitching might just be a waste. They look at him as a fast-riser who could reach the majors as a starter in very short order, though not likely as fast as the previous ASU Friday night starter to be drafted, Mike Leake who went straight to the majors from college. With the 74th and 75th picks, Arizona could poach Marsh late on the first night instead of letting someone else grab him in the opening of day two.
The Takeaway: It would only take about 2 minutes of Internet searches to come up with another dozen names to add to this list. Those listed above are just the ones that there seems to be the most buzz about when I have done my own searching and made my own calls. With the exceptions of Quintana and Marsh, the two things the players all have in common are that they are prep talents and that they all represent big ceiling low floor picks. The potential upside of the prep talents listed above is difficult to imagine if it should happen they all rise to the occasion. On the other hand, the potential for all of them to eventually go bust is also quite high. Marsh and Quintana represent a slightly reversed situation. While neither one projects as being a star at the MLB level, both have very high floors, especially Marsh who could actually benefit from scrapping half his game to let other facets to play up more.