Baseball was always on his radar screen.
That was the expectation for Diamondbacks’ centerfielder A. J. Pollock, who was selected on the first round (17th overall) in the 2009 draft. Currently on the 25-man roster, the Diamondbacks have five players who were selected on the first round, and they also selected outfielder Justin Upton as the first pick overall in the 2005 draft.
With Pollock behind and their future directly ahead, a thousand other players await anxiously for a moment of decision. The hour comes this Monday. That’s when hopefuls from colleges and high schools across the land await the annual draft of what Major League Baseball calls, First Year Player Draft.
“When the draft finally came, I was relieved,” Pollock said. “I had so many workouts, so much travel that I was happy to have the draft completed. Sure, I always had baseball as a career and this was always on my radar screen.”
For 2015, the up-coming draft is especially meaningful for the Diamondbacks because Arizona holds the first pick overall. Experiencing the worst record in the majors last season, the Diamondbacks now receive the first opportunity to improve.
While football and basketball organizations draft for immediate, impact players, hockey and baseball draft for development. That said, the Diamondbacks will go after whom they consider the best player with the greatest opportunity to be an impact player on the major league level.
“With our pick, you don’t draft for need,” said manager Chip Hale before Friday’s game with the Mets. “I think most teams draft the best player out there. It’s really hard to draft for need because players develop over time.”
Field managers, for the most part, have little input on a player selected, and some refuse to get involved in any conversation.
With his club battling for the National League Eastern Division honors, Mets’ manager Terry Collins distances himself as far from scouting decision as possible.
“I stay out of scouting,” he said before Friday’s game in Chase Field. “It’s easy to say, take the best guy. With our scouts, whatever they’re doing is working. We have several very good players.”
A look over the Diamondbacks’ first round picks demonstrates a penchant for selecting pitching.
Since the 2010 draft, the Diamondbacks selected a pitcher in each selection with one exception. That was 2012 when Arizona drafted catcher Stryker Trahan out of Lafayette, La. Since his selection, Trahan has since been moved the outfield, but pitchers dominate recent selections.
Beginning with the 2010 draft, two players selected by Arizona are currently pitching in the majors. These include right-hander Trevor Bauer (third pick overall in 2011), since traded to Cleveland. Archie Bradley, the seventh pick overall in the 2011 draft, is currently on the Diamondbacks’ disabled list.
Other first round pitchers selected since 2010 include Barrett Loux (6th overall in 2011) but because of injury, the Diamondbacks were able to gain two, first round picks the following year. These selections turned out to be Bauer and Bradley.
With their first round pick in 2013, the Diamondbacks selected right-hander Bradan Shipley and took right-hander Touki Toussaint in last year’s draft.
Currently on the 25-man roster, the Diamondbacks have five players selected in the first round.
These include, in addition to Pollock, Aaron Hill (13th pick in 2003 by Toronto), Cliff Pennington (21st overall in 2005 by Oakland), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (26th overall in 2003 by Atlanta), and Chris Owings (41st in 2009 by the Diamondbacks).
Other selections of note include Paul Goldschmidt, drafted by the Diamondbacks on the eighth round in 2009, Josh Collmenter, selected by the Diamondbacks on the 15th round in 2007, and a pair of ninth rounds pick, Jordan Pacheco by the Rockies in 2007 and Chase Anderson by the Diamondbacks in 2009.
Five players on the current roster, Ender Inciarte, David Peralta, Welington Castillo, Rubby De La Rosa, Yasmany Tomas, Randall Delgado, J. C Ramirez and Oliver Perez are free agents from Latin American countries.
If the Diamondbacks had trouble with Mets’ closer Jeurys Familia in Thursday’s series opener, New York manager Terry Collins said the 6-3, 242 pounder, who leads the Mets with 16 saves in 25 appearances and a 1.35 ERA, is not available for Friday’s game. Pitching 1.2 innings and unloading 33 pitches Thursday night, Collins decided to rest his closer.
“(Familia) has made huge strides, Collins said. “About 12, 13 months ago, this guy was on his way to the minors. Command, that’s been the key to his success.”