Here are the Diamondbacks picks in the top-100 selection, along with the associated signing bonuses. The sizeable draft pool gives Arizona extra leverage to grab as many two extra premium prep talents in this draft.
16th overall (first round) - $3,745,500
26th overall (compensation for unsigned 2018 first-rounder Matt McLain) - $2,653,400
33rd overall (compensation for Patrick Corbin) - $2,202,200
34th overall (compensation for A.J. Pollock) - $2,148,100
56th overall (second round) - $1,276,400
74th overall (competitive balance pick) - $844,200
75th overall (competitive balance pick via trade with Cardinals) - $831,100
93rd overall (third round) - $627,900
Total draft bonus pool money: $16,093,700
The middle part of the first round has seen quite a bit of activity when it comes to talent projecting to it. A number of players that were previously ranked lower on prospect boards have found helium and have now pushed their way up. While not every talent is taken in the order they are found on most boards, it does mean that some talents previously seen as in-play for Arizona have a higher chance of being gone before Arizona gets its first pick.
One thing that stands out about this draft is that it is a broad draft, and not a deep draft. The true impact talent stops somewhere around the sixth or seventh pick. After that, selections become much more about risk/reward, with some prep players still having star potential, but almost all the players coming with big bust potential as well.
Here is my own final draft board of names that might be available for the Diamondbacks at #16, along with their prospect rankings from BA, FG, and MLB
Shea Langeliers - C, Baylor (9/19/11)
Just two weeks ago, there were still many who felt that Langeliers could be available as late as #18. Now it seems highly unlikely Langeliers gets out of the top-10. If he does make it to 16 though, he would be a steal at that point. Barring some sort of draft day craziness, he is the only college bat I see Arizona looking at at #16. Although his ceiling is not as high as some others on this list, it is still quite high, with a high floor as well. Franchise catchers are difficult to come by and Langeliers looks to be one.
Quinn Priester - RHP, Cary-Grove HS (23/14/21)
It’s not a big secret I prioritize pitching over hitting in the upper reaches of the draft and often in general when evaluating talent. Priester is looking like the best prep arm available in the draft. If the Diamondbacks want pitching with a high ceiling, Priester is the pick.
Matthew Allan - RHP, Seminole HS (18/16/12)
Despite having top of the rotation potential, signability concerns could lead to Allan still being available at #16. If he is available at 16, the Diamondbacks could use their bonus money to scoop him up here, or they could push him down the board more, making it a bigger risk for other teams to take him in hopes that they can grab him at #26 for about what he would cost at #16. Signability concerns are real with Allan. This alone could make him a player to pass on, despite the large bonus pool.
Corbin Carroll - OF, Lakeside HS (12/13/14)
No name has been linked to Arizona more than Corbin Carroll. While Carroll will be an expensive sign, no one is expecting him to be a difficult sign. That, along with his high ceiling has changed Carroll’s outlook over the last 10-14 days. While some mock drafts still have Carroll going to the Diamondbacks, the more regularly updated ones now have Carroll going off the board before #16, leaving Allan as the one signability prospect remaining for Arizona to take a swing at.
Jackson Rutledge - RHP, San Jacinto JC (14/16/13)
College arms do not represent well in this year’s draft, though Rutledge is an outlier. With a fastball that sits 94-97 late in games and the ability to reach back for 99, combined with some refined offspeed pitches, Rutledge looms large on the radar for many teams.Rutledge’s control has some concerned that he might eventually wind up a reliever, but he is going to get every opportunity to start given his ceiling of a dominant #2 pitcher. Many feel Rutledge will go in the top 12, but if the above prep talents are also taken high, Rutledge could fall to Arizona
George Kirby - RHP, Elon (20/17/20)
The only other college arm that Arizona should remotely be considering before the 35th pick in the draft, Kirby is a strike-throwing machine. His clean mechanics give him a repeatable delivery of four pitches. While he does not have the projected ceiling of Allan or Rutledge, he is seen as one of the safest bets in the draft to make the majors as a starting pitcher. His ceiling is likely that of a middle of the rotation pitcher, but there is very little concern that he will fail to reach that mark. While not a flashy pick, Arizona really cannot afford to miss at #16 and these types of arms still have substantial long-term value.
Keoni Cavaco - 3B, Eastlake HS (31/23/37)
Cavaco has started to fly up the boards. If the Diamondbacks have interest in this prepster with big power and above average tools across the board, this will be their only chance to grab him. It’s entirely possible he is gone before #16.
Dark horse candidate:
Josh Jung - 3B, Texas Tech (17/12/16) The only way Jung is available at #16 is if there is an early run on the prepsters. Even then, it is tough to see Jung falling below #14. If he is available at #16 though, the Diamondbacks will need to give strong consideration to the solid fielding third baseman with the massive bat.
With the 26th pick in the draft, it is a safe bet that Arizona will look to flex some of its financial muscle. This is one of the places where they can afford to offer overslot to grab a signability prospect. It is not out of the question that Matthew Allan could fall to here. However, it is just as likely that Allan is off the board before #16. It’s going to come down to how big teams are willing to go on the prep arm. By this point in the draft, Arizona will remain the only team that could afford him.
Other names associated with Arizona at 26 include:
Anthony Volpe - SS, Delbarton HS (52/27/68)
Matthew Lugo - SS, Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy (74/29/36)
Gunnar Henderson - 3B, Morgan Academy (30/43/33)
Brett Baty - 3B, Lake Travis HS (15/10/17)
Nick Quintana - 3B Arizona (81/63/76)
This is the pick where Arizona is most likely to be able to make best use of their oversized bonus pool. This is where Arizona can afford to go big, where other teams would be forced to pass on some of the high ceiling prep talent. This is also the spot where Arizona could potentially miss big. Other than possibly Volpe, the high ceiling prep talents falling to #26 are those of the high risk/high reward variety. Volpe is a much lower talent risk, but he comes with serious signability concerns. Many believe he has a fairly set short list of teams he will sign with, and none are in the west. Nick Quintana is a bit of a reach at #26, but could be gone before Arizona selects again at #33, meaning that if Arizona were to select him, they could both save money on the pick and not be reaching too far down to select him. This would allow Arizona to instead focus their draft pool money on the eleventh and twelfth rounds. Outside of a solid college pick such as Quintana, this is likely to be a high risk/ high reward pick, meaning that just about any prep talent could be taken here, with those listed simply being the most easily identified. However, just about any prepster with top-50 prospect pedigree (not named Jack Leiter) would make sense here.
After the 26th pick, look for Arizona to load up on college talent. There is a very real chance that Arizona looks close to home for multiple picks in this year’s draft. The University of Arizona has second baseman, Cameron Canon joining NIck Quintana as a likely day-one pick. Arizona State has Alec Marsh flying up the boards as one of the few reliable college pitchers in this years draft. He too will likely go on the first night. At #34 he might be a stretch. At #56, Marsh is a solid value pick that could allow Arizona to pocket a bit more money for those eleventh and twelfth rounds.
The Takeaway: Prep prospects are almost always the biggest gambles in the draft. While they usually have higher upside, they also have a much higher chance of washing out while still in the minors. Despite this, Arizona’s financial situation has aligned them to make a run at multiple such prospects. Look for Arizona to go big with the first two picks and then start playing a somewhat conservative game with the remainder of their top-100 picks. While it would certainly be nice to score big with this season’s draft, there is also something to be said for hitting on a ton of future depth, even if it has a lower overall ceiling. With the number of picks Arizona will have on the first night, it is possible that Arizona could add as many as five names to their top-30 prospect list in one night, depending on how the chips fall. This is why, despite what draft history shows us, that it is difficult not to get excited about what this draft could mean for Arizona’s future. Regardless of what approach Mike Hazen and his front office take in this year’s draft, the results are going to be one of Hazen’s longest-lasting legacies with the organization. IF he nails this draft, Arizona will be in good shape moving forward and Hazen’s tenure in Arizona will be secure. If he misses in this draft as he did the previous two seasons, Hazen’s future in Arizona could be at risk.