Rizzo: D-Backs still eyeing Upton
Scouting director relieved to have Stephen Drew in the fold
The Diamondbacks find themselves in unfamiliar territory this year as they own the No.1 overall selection in the upcoming First-Year Player Draft, which begins Tuesday, June 7.
Arizona picked as high as fourth in 1999, but other than that its highest pick was 15, which came last season.
Not only do they have the No. 1 overall pick, but the D-Backs will have five of the draft's first 85 picks. That means the team has an opportunity to really bolster a farm system that has drawn high praise recently. Arizona also got a boost recently when it reached an agreement with last year's top pick -- Florida State University shortstop Stephen Drew.
Scouting director Mike Rizzo will once again be running Arizona's draft room. Rizzo has drawn raves for his drafts, the first of which was in 2000, and he agreed to discuss Arizona's draft preparations in a three-part first-person series, as told to Diamondbacks reporter Steve Gilbert.
We wrapped up the Stephen Drew negotiations just minutes before the deadline Monday night. It was an interesting process to get it done. It was pretty intense right until the last minute of the deadline. To me, it proved how good our teamwork is here in the office, and also how much Stephen wanted to be a Diamondback. The bottom line was we wanted him here and he wanted to be here, and at the end, they realized that it was a good and fair offer, and we weren't going to move off it. He thought in the best interest of his career, he should take it.
The enormous support that I got here from managing general partner Ken Kendrick, general partner Jeff Moorad and general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. was invaluable. Joe and I worked extremely hard for a long time on this deal. We plugged in a lot of numbers and we put together a lot of different alternative ways of trying to get this deal done. They allowed me to be the front man on the negotiations, which was an honor for me, and the experience was very valuable. They were behind me 100 percent, and it was a total team effort to get this guy signed. To me, it was one of the big signings of the last three or four years for an amateur player. And the way we did it and at the number we did it, I think we shocked a lot of people that we got it done. It was by no means just me doing it. It was the executive branch of the Diamondbacks that did it.
Now, about this year's draft, we're still down to Justin Upton and one of the three college pitchers. We're having some internal discussions about what it means now that Drew is in the fold, and we're looking at where our depth is and where we may have needs. The decision on the No. 1 pick will be independent of the Drew deal, but we'll look realistically where our depth is and where we are a little lean, and then we'll make the pick accordingly.
Drafting Upton and moving him to another position is not something we're looking at. Shortstop is where his value lies. To me, he's a shortstop. We've seen him play center field in some of the All-Star classics and stuff, and he plays an outstanding center, but we don't see him as a center fielder. We're treating him like a shortstop and we think he's going to play shortstop in the big leagues.
The three college pitchers are involved in regionals this weekend, and we've got one of our scouts at each of the regionals. We're going to monitor the regionals mostly for health reasons. We've evaluated their abilities already and one good outing or bad outing is not going to change that. But we will monitor them up until their last pitch before the draft, because we just want to see if they're sound at draft time so we don't draft a player that has just gotten hurt.
We've been in the draft room (an executive conference room at Bank One Ballpark) since Monday morning and we'll be there until the draft is over Wednesday evening. Right now, we're going over each player. We're going to have over 800 players on the board when all is said and done, and we go over each one of them individually.
We watch film on them; we evaluate their statistics and go over their abilities. Each one of our scouts have talked about them, each one of our supervisors will talk about them, and we'll rank them on the master list according to their abilities and where we would take them.
The final decision will come after we talk with all the people that we need to talk to and get a full view of what their ability level is, what their signability is and where we're going to place them on the board. Ultimately, the top guy on the board will be our first pick. We just haven't made that decision yet. It's a very big decision and we're not going to rush it. We're going to take the time we need to take and talk to all the people we need to talk to before any decision is made.
Mike Rizzo is director of scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.