D-backs will load up with two early picks

D-backs will load up with two early picks

PHOENIX -- It is never a bad thing to have two of the top seven picks in the First-Year Player Draft, but given the high-end talent in 2011's pool, there might be no better time than now.

The D-backs own the No. 3 overall pick for finishing with a 65-97 record last year, and they also have the No. 7 pick thanks to not signing their first-round pick from last season, Texas A&M right-hander Barret Loux.

It's the first time in the history of the Draft that a team has had two of the first seven picks.

"It's obviously exciting to have those two picks because this is a really good Draft class," senior vice president of scouting and player development Jerry Dipoto said.

Dipoto will team with first-year scouting director Ray Montgomery to run the Draft and it will also be the first for Kevin Towers as GM of the D-backs. Towers has traveled across the country to see the players being considered for the first round.

Draft Central

Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday, at 3 p.m. MST on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging  your tweets with #mlbdraft.

The bottom line is the organization plans on picking the best player available at both those spots, whether it's a high school or college prospect. The D-backs have no intention of selecting a lesser player who is more "signable" with the No. 7 pick just because it is unprotected.

"To me, it doesn't matter," Towers said when asked about high school vs. college players. "I think when you're picking three and seven you need to take the best players on the board. I'm not opposed to going with high school kids. A lot of people say high school pitchers will take five years and that's too long, but some of these high school kids today move quicker."

As proof, Towers points to the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, the Brewers' Zack Greinke and the Giants' Matt Cain, high school hurlers who moved through the Minors at a rapid pace.

There is plenty of high-ceiling pitching in this Draft and the D-backs are likely to select a pitcher with their first pick. There has been speculation about Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen, but the team is also high on UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer and high school right-hander Dylan Bundy.

D-backs first-round picks
Year Player Position Current team
2010 Barret Loux RHP Did not sign
2009 Bobby Borchering/A.J. Pollock 3B/CF Visalia (A)/Mobile (AA)
2008 Daniel Schlereth LHP Tigers (MLB)
2007 Jarrod Parker RHP Mobile (AA)
2006 Max Scherzer RHP Tigers (MLB)

"I know it's the best Draft class I've ever seen," Dipoto said. "There are going to be a lot of guys in this Draft that get to the big leagues quickly."

Here's a glance at what the D-backs have in store as the Draft approaches:

In about 50 words
This Draft has some of everything, save a ton of college bats. The 2008 Draft was a heavy bat class, which probably explains why this one isn't. There's plenty of pitching -- both high school and college arms -- to choose from in this one, and there are some promising high school hitters as well.

The scoop
"You can never have enough pitching," Towers said. "We'd like to build this organization around pitching, so pitching will always be kind of a focus here."

First-round buzz
Initial speculation had the D-backs taking Hultzen with the No. 3 pick, and they would likely nab him if he's still there. Other players they really like are Bauer and Bundy. If Bauer and Bundy are off the boards at No. 7, high school shortstop Francisco Lindor, whom the club planned to work out in Phoenix on Thursday, should get a long look.

Shopping list
This won't impact their first-round picks, but the team would like to add some catching depth in the system as well as some athletic middle-of-the-diamond players. The organization would like to add more speed as well. The D-backs are deep with corner infielders and have some pitching coming, though it is still a little ways away.

Trend watch
Particularly when it comes to the top few picks, the D-backs are committed to picking the best available player and ownership has said it will spend the money necessary to sign the top talent. Towers has never been one to shy away from high school talent for a quick college fix.

Recent Draft History
Rising fast
Paul Goldschmidt was taken in the eighth round of the 2009 Draft and was the California League Most Valuable Player in 2010. Some scouts had talked about him having a slow bat, but the 35 homers he hit last year combined with a strong spring in Cactus League games and a dominating start to his Double-A Mobile stint this year have quieted that. He is a candidate to be called up this year depending on whether Juan Miranda produces at the big league level.

Cinderella story
Drafted in the 15th round in 2007, Josh Collmenter has had to prove himself at every stop in his Minor League career. The right-hander does not possess what scouts call plus stuff, but an unorthodox over-the-top delivery combined with a bulldog mentality has helped him get results at every level. He was called up to the big leagues on April 15 and so far has made the most of his opportunity.

In The Show
Jarrod Parker, the team's No. 1 pick in the 2007 Draft, would likely already be in the big leagues if not for Tommy John surgery costing him his 2010 season. The right-hander still could see some time in Arizona this year, but is certainly someone they are counting on in 2012 and beyond.

A pair of first-round picks -- RHP Max Scherzer (2006) and LHP Daniel Schlereth (2008) -- were used in a trade that brought Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson to the D-backs. Arizona then flipped Jackson for Daniel Hudson, so Scherzer and Schlereth helped build two-fifths of the Arizona rotation.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.