D-backs focusing on talent above need in 2014 Draft
Arizona owns four of the first 70 picks, including No. 69 acquired from San Diego
PHOENIX -- It got lost in the shuffle when the D-backs acquired a compensation pick after the second round from the Padres in a deal made just before last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
But at the time, Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said the pick, No. 69 overall, was a big component because of what he believed scouting director Ray Montgomery could turn it into.
"When you've got a scouting director that's as good as Ray, I'll bet on him any day," Towers said.
This will be Montgomery's fourth Draft as scouting director, and he will have four picks out of the first 70 -- No. 16 overall, No. 54, No. 69 and No. 70 -- before the third round begins. Nos. 69 and 70 were alotted to the Padres and D-backs, respectively, as a result of the Competitive Balance Lottery.
"It's probably more pitching heavy, high school and college," Montgomery said of this year's Draft. "Pitching in general is usually the strength of the Draft, I think you'll get that from me just about every year, but this year probably more so."
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which took effect in 2012, has had an impact on this year's crop of college players. The CBA reined in some of the spending on the Draft so more high school players elected to sign in 2011, the year prior to the limits, rather than attend college. Had they gone to college, this would be the first time they would be eligible to be drafted again.
"This is the first year you're seeing the results of the change in the CBA in terms of this year's Draft," Montgomery said. "I think there are less guys at the college level because we signed a lot of them in 2011."
Towers is a scout at heart and a former scouting director, so getting a chance to look at amateur players is one of the favorite things he will do all year. He recently crisscrossed the country seeing all but probably one or two guys that the team is considering with the No. 16 pick.
When it comes to actually making the decision on who to pick, though, it will be in Montgomery's hands.
"K.T. has sat in that chair before, he knows what it feels like, he knows how hard it is, that helps," Montgomery said. "It helps having that sounding board of someone that knows what it feels like."
Arizona has needs in the system in the area of starting pitching and corner outfield bats, but that is only one factor the team will take into consideration.
"Need is a bad evaluation tool, we say that all the time," Montgomery said. "But you're certainly cognizant of what you need in the organization."
The 2014 Draft will take place today through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network today at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on Friday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's a glance at what the D-backs have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
With pitchers like Archie Bradley close to the big leagues and Braden Shipley and Aaron Blair seemingly on a fast track, Arizona would not be opposed to taking a high school arm early if that player is at the top of their board.
The D-backs regard the Draft as being somewhat thin when it comes to impact bats with a drop off after the first 10 to 15, so if they hope to get one, they likely would have to do it at No. 16, because they won't be able to at No. 54. So it wouldn't be a surprise to see them grab at bat at No. 16 and then focus on pitching with the next couple picks.
Arizona has been linked in various mock drafts to University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer, who would fit what they are looking to add this year. As is often the case with a pick after the first handful, there are lots of different names being thrown out, including college arms like Tyler Beede and Brandon Finnegan and high school right-hander Luis Ortiz.
D-backs bonus pool
Under the CBA, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The D-backs have a total bonus pool of $7,228,300 for their picks, an average of $602,358, which ranks 11th.
The No. 16 pick has a $2,338,200 value attached to it, while the No. 54 pick has a $1,034,500 value, the No. 69 pick has a $821,100 value and the No. 70 pick has a $808,600.
Arizona will likely take the best player available at each spot and not select based on positional needs at the big league level. Given the recent trades, the team would like to restock some starting pitching in the system as well as corner outfield bats. One area that is not a need is bullpen arms.
Under Montgomery, the D-backs have selected two college pitchers in the first round, a high school pitcher and a high school catcher. So the only real trend is that Arizona will take the highest-rated player on their board when its pick rolls around.
* RECENT DRAFT HISTORY *
Infielder Andrew Velazquez has a chance to move quickly through the system. Drafted as a high school shortstop in the seventh round in 2012, Velazquez is playing well right now for Class A South Bend. Velazquez can change a game with his energy. His defense continues to improve and he has surprising power for someone listed at 5-foot-8.
Right-hander Mike Bolsinger was drafted in the 15th round in 2010 and his rise through the system was a study in perseverance. Bolsinger lacks overpowering stuff, but Towers saw him throw well every time he watched him the past couple of years and gave him a shot in the rotation earlier this season.
In The Show
On the current 25-man roster, players drafted and developed by the D-backs include Josh Collmenter (15th round, 2007), Wade Miley (supplemental first round, '08), Goldschmidt (eighth round, '09), A.J. Pollock (first round, '09), Chase Anderson (ninth round, '09), Chris Owings (supplemental first round, '09) and Evan Marshall (fourth round, '11).
The D-backs' recent top picks
2013: Braden Shipley, RHP, Class A Advanced Visalia
2012 Stryker Trahan, OF, Class A South Bend
2011: Trevor Bauer, RHP, Indians (traded)
2011: Archie Bradley, RHP, Triple-A Reno
2010: Barret Loux, RHP, Cubs Triple-A (did not sign)
2009: Bobby Borchering, OF, Astros Class A (traded)
2009: A.J. Pollock, OF, D-backs
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.