Draft an important piece for D-backs
Previous picks have played integral part in team's success
A quick glance at the Diamondbacks' lineup shows how important the First-Year Player Draft has been in putting together the team with the best record in the National League West.
Typical of the organization's plan, five of the eight starters were drafted and developed in the Arizona organization and that doesn't take into account the players used to acquire Randy Johnson from the Yankees or Dan Haren from the A's.
So while the Draft may not get as much attention as a big trade or free agent signing, for the D-backs, it's been an important avenue.
After picking ninth last year, the D-backs draft 26th in the 2008 Draft by virtue of having the best record in the NL last season. They also have a compensation pick before the second round (No. 43 overall) for the loss of free-agent pitcher Livan Hernandez.
MLB.com will carry every pick of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, which takes place June 5-6 at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. Day 1 coverage begins at 11 a.m. MT with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. The remaining rounds on Day 1 will be shown exclusively at MLB.com, with live analysis on site from MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo.
Several of the top amateur prospects are expected to be in attendance in Orlando for Day 1 of the Draft, and each of the 30 Major League Clubs will be represented by front office executives and baseball luminaries. Fans are welcome to attend Day 1 of the Draft, and admission to The Milk House is free with seating limited to a first-come, first-served basis.
Day 2 will get under way at 8:30 a.m. MT and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live at MLB.com.
Here's a glance at what the D-backs have in store as the First-Year Player Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
Scouting director Tom Allison said this year's Draft is heavy on college position players and college bullpen arms. While there aren't clear-cut top choices in this year's Draft, the pool of first-round players is perceived to be deep, which should benefit the D-backs, who haven't picked this late in the first round since 2002.
"You look at the last five or six years and there are some very good players taken at or near the end of the first round. To me, that's our challenge, finding that guy." -- Allison on what Arizona faces picking late in the Draft
A couple of names to keep an eye on are Daniel Schlereth, a University of Arizona left-handed reliever and Jemile Weeks, a second baseman at the University of Miami. Schlereth, the son of former NFL lineman Mark, has been throwing 97 mph lately, while Allison was with the Brewers when they drafted Weeks out of high school. Weeks is the younger brother of Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks.
With so many position players having graduated to the big leagues or used in trades, the D-backs are a little thin on impact position players in the system, with pitching being their strength.
The D-backs have stuck to a philosophy of taking the best player available regardless of position and that figures to continue. They drafted shortstop Stephen Drew first in 2004 and another shortstop, Justin Upton, No. 1 overall the following year.
"I think we'll stick to picking the best player," general manager Josh Byrnes said. "You can always rearrange your talent as you go."
Recent top picks
Jarrod Parker, 2007: Parker did not pitch until the Instructional League last year after signing just before the deadline. Has been impressive for Class A South Bend this year.
Max Scherzer, 2006: Scherzer set the baseball world abuzz by retiring the first 13 batters he faced in his Major League debut. Pitched his way onto the big league team after less than a year in the system.
Upton, 2005: Shifted from shortstop to center field and then right, Upton was called up last August and hasn't looked back.
It didn't take Scherzer long to fly through the farm system. He started at Class A Visalia last year, but quickly moved to Double-A Mobile. After a stint in the Arizona Fall League, he impressed during big league camp and after fanning 38 in four Triple-A starts, he found himself in the Majors.
Mark Reynolds was a 16th-round selection in 2004 and only was called up from Double-A last season because two other infielders were injured. The promotion was supposed to last a couple of weeks. Instead, he got on a tear at the plate, hit 17 homers in 366 at-bats and established himself as the starting third baseman.
In The Show
Upton and Scherzer's contributions have been noted, but don't forget right-hander Micah Owings. The two-way threat was drafted in the third round in 2005 and is a mainstay of the rotation. Also picked in that Draft was lefty Greg Smith, a key part of the trade that brought Haren to Arizona.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.