06/04/2004 11:43 AM ET
Diamondbacks draft preview
With no urgent needs, will take best available player
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The Diamondbacks know exactly who they will select with their first round pick -- No. 15 overall -- in Monday's First-Year Player Draft: the best player available.
|2001 draft picks Scott Hairston (above) and Chad Tracy are poised to make an impact this season. (Alan Diaz/AP)
Yes, it's a cliche, but the Diamondbacks feel good enough about the state of their minor league system that they don't feel there are any urgent needs that need to be filled.
"We feel like we are deep up and down the system," scouting director Mike Rizzo said.
Last year, the Diamondbacks wanted to improve their position player depth, particularly at the corner infield and outfield positions. With that in mind, they selected college outfielders Conor Jackson (19th) and Carlos Quentin (29th) in the first round. They followed that up by picking college third baseman Jamie D'Antona with their third pick.
Quentin had Tommy John surgery after the draft, a condition the club knew about when they drafted him, but both Jackson and D'Antona were both standouts in their first years. Jackson was named the Northwest League's Most Valuable Player and D'Antona tied for the NWL lead in home runs.
While there are no urgent needs that need to be filled in the system, there is one place the club will focus a little attention on.
"We wouldn't mind going back to some college pitching, especially focusing on some left-handed pitching," Rizzo said. "We'd like to beef that part of the system up a little bit. You can never have too much of it."
| Past five No. 1 picks|
|| Conor Jackson, 3B
|| Sergio Santos, SS
|| Jayson Bulger, RHP
|| Corey Myers, SS
Rizzo, who took over for Don Mitchell after the 1999 draft, has gotten the reputation as being a scouting director that favors college players over high school ones. And while that's true -- 18 of their first 21 picks last year were collegians -- Rizzo is flexible.
In the 2002 draft, he chose high school shortstop Sergio Santos in the first round.
"If there are two players and their ability is equal, then I would lean towards the college guy," Rizzo said. "If there is a high school player with far and away more ability than I'd certainly take him."
The drafting of college players during Rizzo's tenure has helped the Diamondbacks stock up a farm system that has recently drawn praise in national publications. Because of free agent signings, the Diamondbacks did not have first-round picks in the 1998 and 2000 drafts.
"In the last four drafts we've created a very deep and talented system that is just now starting to get some recognition," Rizzo said
As Rizzo looks at the draft, he sees a deep talent pool that might be a little short on high-profile, high-ceiling players.
That could bode well for the Diamondbacks, who hold their highest pick since 1999 when they drafted fourth overall. Mitchell, who preferred high school players with high ceilings, was the scouting director at that time and he selected high school shortstop Corey Myers, who has struggled in the D-Backs system.
"We think that we'll be able to get a really good, quality player at 15," Rizzo said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.